It has been said that testosterone is the most dangerous drug in the world.” ~ caller on the Thom Hartmann show
I was awakened Saturday morning, Sept. 30, at 6:45 a.m., by a barrage of gunfire around my rural property north of Portage. I counted 120 shots fired close by over the next two hours — half of them semi-automatic. It was the same on Sunday morning, and Monday. My wild friends who live in my woods are surrounded and killed, lured to food plots off my land. I am not safe to walk out my door.
The semi-automatic guns that were used in the Las Vegas massacre are also used in killing hundreds of thousands of innocent wildlife in Wisconsin every year. This gets little press and less compassion.
Until we have the moral substance to stop the state from encouraging everyone from children to adults to kill baby bears and other animals, the killing of wildlife that enriches the weapons industry, National Rifle Association, and state natural resources departments will continue
Four years ago, the Wisconsin DNR and Natural Resources Board banned me, evidently forever, from speaking at their monthly board meetings. They want no nuisance voice opposing their killing agenda.
The Minnesota DNR apparently has the same obsession with squelching compassion for wildlife.
State natural resources agencies, and the hunters and trappers that control them, will go to great lengths to maintain the power to destroy our public lands and kill defenseless wildlife. Will the public stand up when only 10 percent of wildlife is left? When?
Lynn Rogers, now in his late 70s, spent the past 50 years studying black bears. He opened the North American Bear Education Center in Ely, Minnesota, over a decade ago to celebrate the sweet magnificence of living bears. Rogers’ scientific advocacy has hunters and their hunter-run DNR in Minnesota all in a tizzy because they want to continue recreational bear kills. The DNR proposed a ban on bear feeding (which ultimately was not enacted) — and it just so happens that Rogers feeds bears and takes groups out all summer to meet them and learn how nonthreatening and peaceful they are.
The Timberjay newspaper, serving part of northern Minnesota, documented the DNR’s assault on March 19, 2015:
“The agency (DNR) is in the midst of an expensive and ongoing legal battle with Ely bear researcher Lynn Rogers, and it just so happens that Rogers is funding his Wildlife Research Institute and his legal fight primarily through bear study courses. Rogers can just about guarantee close-up bear experiences to course participants because he feeds bears on the institute’s grounds. A ban on bear feeding would pretty much shut down Rogers’ operations, something the DNR has sought for years.
“There’s no question that there’s bad blood between top agency officials and Rogers. The agency has worked overtime to damage Rogers’ reputation, and it’s even stood in the way of the North American Bear Center, whose board Rogers chairs, as it has attempted to obtain new bears for its exhibit.”
The article continues: “The government shouldn’t be permitted to shut down what is, in effect, a small business, simply because they don’t like the guy who runs it, or disagree with his message.
“As a local business, Rogers’ Wildlife Research Institute has used the growing public interest in ecotourism to attract hundreds of visitors to the area each year, most for stays of several days.
“It’s the same interest that draws thousands of visitors each year to the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, another facility in our region that feeds bears, much to the delight of the public.”
Rogers has found that sharing food with bears reduces bear/people conflicts: “One thing we are learning is that habituation and food-conditioning are not what make nuisance bears. Hunger does,” he wrote on Facebook in 2012. What a novel idea! Humans are not the only species on planet earth that should be able to eat.
Rogers forged respectful relationships with research bears that he radio-collared with kindness, not anesthesia. Then the DNR cut Rogers’ permits to radio-collar bears from an unlimited number to 15, then to 12, and then 10 — ending his ability to monitor family lineage and histories.
Rogers’ nightly report from the center Jan. 1, 2016, lays out more of the sabotage:
“As the record shows, Commissioner Tom Landwehr decided to pull my permit in early 2011 when he became angry about letters requesting protection for radio-collared bears. His staff told him the DNR had no cause to pull my permit. The commissioner then spent over $500,000 of taxpayer money to create a ‘cause.’ “
Lynn Rogers documented the 2012 hunting season: “That’s the year the DNR gave him (a hunter guide) a key to a gate a mile from my research center. The key gave him access to my property boundaries. He had his hunters surround the property, and the killing began. …. The community didn’t feel so kindly. The gated road had been their safe place during bear-hunting season. It was where they could hike, walk their dogs, and enjoy the bug-free out-of-doors without fear of being shot.”
Tensions escalated between the DNR, hunters and the bear center radio-collared bears.
In September 2013, hunters homed in on the research bears around the center, killing Dot, wounding Aster, and killing June — a 10-year-old bear who was dear to Rogers and the center’s staff and the mother to two young cubs named Ember and Cole. Rogers wrote in his nightly report: “June is irreplaceable in our lifetimes.”
The wildlife of the planet is irreplaceable. The DNRs, NRA, and politics of destruction are manmade and replaceable. Get involved now.
A Wisconsin Film Premiere: “Gray Area: Wolves of the Southwest” screens at the Barrymore Oct. 18 during Wolf Week.
Urgent Wildlife Alert: Please demand that The SHARE Act, H.R. 3668, be withdrawn permanently. It would prematurely strip protection from wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region and allow the slaughter of denning bears and wolves in Alaska’s national parks. It would promote polar bear trophy hunting. And it would eliminate the ability of the EPA and Interior Department to get toxic lead out of ammunition and fishing tackle. The bill contains giveaways to the NRA, including repealing regulations on silencers and armor-piercing bullets, as well as provisions that would harm wildlife, the environment and public safety. Please call your legislators and sign this petition.
Bear lovers can help create a Wisconsin bear sanctuary and education center located 35 miles north of Madison on my property by going to the Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic website home page, where there is more information on how to help.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on October 8, 2017