FREE WOLF PHOTOS
“Venturing into uncharted territory, we need dramatically new leadership and government laws” ~ “Wild Law” by Cormac Cullinan
On July 17, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court aiming to strike down a recently amended Wisconsin statute that “bans photographing, videotaping, approaching or even maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a hunter.” The law carries a penalty of up to $10,000 and nine months in jail. The law currently states that citizens cannot take more than two photos of a hunter on our public lands.
(If you see a hunter while hiking, lower your eyes and back respectfully away, murmuring, “I hope you kill a BIG one.” Do not look at him or her.)
Hunters, of course, can take endless pictures of each other grinning over our wildlife that they killed.
Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law, paying homage to bear-killing donors while attending the Wisconsin Bear Hunter Association Convention in April 2016.
The lawsuit argues that the law unconstitutionally restricts free speech and violates the First Amendment. I spoke to Matthew Liebman, director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who said, “In order to have an informed discussion about hunting, citizens need to be able to document it.”
Joe Brown is one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He moved to Wisconsin from Texas in 2013 and took a job teaching at Marquette University. A documentary filmmaker, Brown has been filming the activities of Rod Coronado’s Wolf Patrol since 2014 as they have monitored the abuses of running packs of dogs on bears and wolves. The patrol documents illegal activity like baited hooks hung so that if a wolf would leap to get the meat, it would hang on the hooks to die an agonizing death.
The DNR used to want citizens to report abuses on its “tip line.” Now it is illegal to look at or document abuses.
Brown says that Rod Coronado’s work to end the atrocities being promoted by the DNR inspired him when he had given up. Joe writes, “I suspect that the weight of what Aldo Leopold called an ‘ecological education’ became too much for me. I simply saw too much destruction, and didn’t want to ‘live alone in a world of wounds.’”
I talked to Joe as he was awaiting a tow truck for his broken-down car. He referred me to his website, where one can see a nine-minute preview of his Wolf Patrol film, to debut in 2018.
In the wildlife issues on his site, Brown refers to the horrific attacks on wolves by federal and state agencies, reminiscent of their 1850–1950 persecution and the ignorance toward wolves and all natural predators.
• “Wisconsin’s lax regulation of hound hunting produces an environment in which hounds frequently ‘run the woods’…. Hunters who lose dogs to wolves have been seen making threats to wolves on hound hunting social media sites. Common claims include, “if the feds won’t let the state control wolves, we will,” “S.S.S.,” or “Shoot, Shovel & Shut-Up,” and “S.O.S.,” or “Shoot on Site.” (NO WOLVES vanity plates on one truck)”
• “Wisconsin currently allows hunters to train their hounds in the forests from July 1st to April 14th of the following year.”
• “Wisconsin also currently pays hunters up to $2,500 for each dog killed by a wolf. Wisconsin is the only state to reimburse hunters for dogs lost to wolves.”
“lupusposse” commented on a Wisconsin Public Radio article about the Wolf Patrol monitoring of the bear hunt last fall:
“The Wolf Patrol and any other groups that might be keeping an eye on the human overexploitation of North America’s native wildlife serve a vital purpose by bringing the imbalance and that excess and unethical targeting of Ursus Americanus with its disrupting effects on wolves and other natural balances, to the public eye.”
On Joe Brown’s link “Why Rod’s story,” he writes, “I can also speak out against the unsporting, inhumane, and frequently barbaric hunting practices carried out on our public lands. There are real issues with wildlife policy in the U.S.” He writes, “I see a man (Coronado) that challenges mainstream America’s apathy and malaise.”
I asked Joe if Wisconsin citizens seem intimidated by armed men and women out to kill bears and wildlife using packs of dogs. Would citizens be afraid to report trespassing and killed livestock or pets? He said that the mindset of Wisconsin hunters is intimidation. “They throw their weight around.”
I asked him for a statement and he emailed me this: “I’ve lived all over the United States — New England, the South, the Mountain West, and the Southwest. I’m not going to say that Wisconsin is completely unique, but it does seem to be pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to hunting. Many other states have banned hunting practices that are still somehow celebrated in Wisconsin. Attitudes in northern Wisconsin seem a good 30 years behind the times, and this is pretty shocking given Wisconsin’s rich environmental history and the legacy of folks like Aldo Leopold and John Muir.”
On Rod Coronado’s Wolf Patrol website: “If you agree that it’s time to end bear baiting and hound training in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, please send an email now to forest officials at: firstname.lastname@example.org”
State Sen. “Toxic Tom” Tiffany is not only working to kill wolves but to poison citizens by promoting a new sulfide mining venture. Please stop him on both issues by calling 608-266-2509.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on July 30, 2017