“Influence Peddler of the Month (May 2017): Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association” ~ Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Bear Hunters Association buys legislator loyalty to their agenda.
“Since the Bear Hunters conduit began operating in 2000, it has funneled nearly $369,000 in large individual contributions of $100 or more to legislative and statewide candidates through 2016. Most of the contributions — about $265,400 or 72 percent — went to Republican candidates. … In addition to the group’s lobbying activities, the Bear Hunters also operates a conduit, which is a legal check bundling outfit that may funnel an unlimited amount of individual contributions to legislative and statewide candidates,” the organization reports.
Lobbyist Bob Welch, a former GOP state senator, represents the Bear Hunters Association, which has 3,000 members. He also lobbies for the Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators (FORCE), which is the National Rifle Association’s state chapter.
Welch and the bear hunters are promoting new GOP legislation for Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons without licenses or training. “The concealed carry bills — here and here — that the Bear Hunters strongly support eliminate the prohibition on carrying firearms into police stations, jails and prisons, and mental health facilities, unless those locations specifically post weapons prohibitions on their buildings and grounds,” The Democracy Campaign writes. “The measures also would allow people to carry tasers, and also eliminate the prohibition on carrying guns, bows and crossbows in wildlife refuges, and while operating all-terrain vehicles.”
The Bear Hunters oppose four current Democratic efforts for common-sense gun laws, including a 48-hour waiting period, background checks, and gun sales only through federally licensed gun dealers.
When the Wolf Patrol monitored the wolf hunt and found illegally placed barbed hooks in meat baits set high so that wolves would hang to death on them, the bear hunters complained of “harassment.” Rep. Adam Jarchow was quick to sponsor and get passed a bill carrying penalties of up to $10,000 and jail time up to nine months for citizens taking pictures of hunters doing illegal activities or monitoring bear hounding so that the public could see this cruelty.
Citizen reporting squelched. Only killers can take pictures of dead wildlife on public lands.
According to the Democracy Campaign, the Bear Hunter conduit funneled $63,565 to individual legislators, a sharp rise in buying access.
“About $56,400 of the conduit’s large individual contributions in 2016 went to Republican candidates and about $7,100 went to Democratic candidates. The top recipients of the group’s conduit contributions in 2016 were GOP Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, $4,000; GOP Rep. Rob Stafsholt, of New Richmond, $3,000; the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $2,775; and GOP Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, of Kaukauna, and Jarchow, $2,000 each.”
Bear hunters have been richly rewarded for their investments. They will kill another 5,000 innocent, peaceful, intelligent black bears, mostly cubs, this fall.
Tiffany and Jarchow held two carefully crafted pro-wolf-killing summits in 2016. I attended one of them. I only commented twice, when I raised my hand and was called upon. I pointed out that the federal Department of Agriculture documents that only 2/10ths of 1 percent of livestock die due to wolf predation before the slaughterhouse. Why not address the reason 90 percent of them die — respiratory diseases and poor care? Tiffany said, “That will be explained.” (It never was.) Later, I contributed that 60 percent of large mammals are threatened with extinction, including wolves, who are a vital to control of chronic wasting disease and Lyme disease. Tiffany then leaped to my table, yelling, “You are being disruptive as usual. Just leave!” I told him I am a Wisconsin citizen and had every right to attend.
A woman spoke long and tragically of sheep killed by wolves — sheep she raises to be shot in fenced enclosures by trophy hunters.
A police chief from a small town up north, surrounded by woods, labored through 42 “incidents” that were all wolves just showing up at the edge of the forest to look at the village. Only one involved a pet dog being killed. The police chief said he did not care what the law is. He vowed to shoot wolves on sight, and was applauded.
The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association .compraises the federal legislators working to remove wolves from protection: “We applaud Representative Duffy, Senator Johnson, and Senator Baldwin for the reintroduction of this important legislation. … Wolves in Wisconsin need to be managed, just like all of our other wildlife. The State of Wisconsin has an excellent track record of managing wolves.”
That “excellent track record” includes killing wolves in traps and gunning them down for thrills.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin has avoided numerous attempts to interview her about her support of removing our wolves from Endangered Species Act protection. The courts have been the only branch of government that has enforced the act. Signing on to this legislation that bans judicial review betrays Wisconsin citizens’ will to protect our wolves.
This is a requiem for Wisconsin. The shame is that killers care more about torturing and killing than the majority care about protecting our vulnerable wild creatures. Year after year they suffer and die needlessly.
Petition to protect the surviving 83 Mexican wolves. 14 were killed this year, more than any year since they were reintroduced in 1998.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on May 21, 2017.