Our conference speakers aim to inspire new pathways for conservation that treat all individuals and species as equal and to reinvigorate our awe and wonder for all life, regardless of their conservation status.” — 2017 International Compassionate Conservation Conference
There is a dramatic and long-overdue change coming to the governance of wildlife. If Wisconsin citizens contact the Tony Evers campaign, we may just be able to get our first humane secretary of the DNR, someone who represents the nonhunting majority of Wisconsin citizens.
The emerging focus worldwide is on respecting the lives of individual animals and their safety and mobility. The new paradigm is one of peace and harmony, replacing the valuing of wildlife primarily for their death. Killing conserves nothing.
The Centre for Compassionate Conservation (CfCC) was initiated at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, in 2013.
International conservation researchers held a conference in 2017 to explore new ethical solutions for wildlife conservation around the globe.
“At a time when laws and policies towards biodiversity are being watered down, we need to prioritize finding ways to harmoniously coexist with the species we share the planet with,” said the director of the CfCC, associate professor Daniel Ramp.
“Current practices in food production incur a great cost to biodiversity but this need not be the case,” Finbarr Horgan, terrestrial ecologist at CfCC, said. He focuses on the devastating effects of pesticides on our food and wildlife.
Fred Pearce, UK-based science journalist and author of “The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation,” thinks outside of the box in celebrating nature’s wildness and capacity for change.
Arian Wallach, UTS Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, who researches how apex predators like dingoes enable native and introduced species to coexist, spoke on the conservation of introduced species worldwide. “Incorporating a commitment to treating individual wildlife with compassion broadens the range of populations, species and ecosystems that we value,” she said. “Sentience, and the ethical response that this capacity demands, does not change when an organism is moved to a new region.”
Wisconsin has 5.8 million people and 3,350,000 cattle. The Republican-held Legislature is constantly trying to reinstate a trophy wolf kill of the estimated 900 rare wolves in Wisconsin. The population of wolves is leveling off and this year is estimated to be 2.2 percent lower than last year. The main causes of mortality are humans — road kill and illegal kills. Hatred of wolves has been fostered by Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Clear Lake, and others in the Republican-gerrymandered Legislature. They favor prioritizing our commons for trophy and recreational wildlife killing.
Scott Walter, DNR carnivore specialist, recently took comments on how we should treat cougars. The plan in place states: “Any cougar confirmed in the depredation of pets or livestock should be euthanized.”
“Cougar present near a school, daycare center, playground, populated urban area, or similar, and responders view the situation as a potential threat to human safety based upon the totality of the circumstances….” That presents the opportunity “to dispatch with a firearm, relocate, or euthanize.”
Cougar sightings in Wisconsin are very rare, but the Wisconsin DNR has a casual killing response to any natural predator. We may have a couple of these beautiful animals in the state, and they could not possibly know that all the cattle belong to farmers for profit, and all the deer belong to hunters for recreational killing.
Are humans the only species allowed to eat on planet earth? It is time that all of us share nature, willingly, with other species and their needs.
“(T)he Mountain Lion Foundation believes the mountain lion population in the United States is unlikely to exceed 30,000. And, many of those lions depend upon severely fragmented and degraded habitat, are in severe danger of over-hunting and road kill, are imperiled by intolerance of their presence on the landscape, and are so few and unconnected they are on the edge of genetic viability. People are responsible for the death of more than 3,000 mountain lions in the U.S. each and every year.”
Contrast the DNR mindset with the educational approach that has been adopted effectively in Mumbai, India, urban population 22 million, one of the most densely populated cities on earth. From the article How City-dwelling Leopards Improve Human Health: “Leopards — about 40 of them — have been correlated with lower incidences of rabies, a disease that kills about 20,000 people in India every year.” The leopards roam the city nightly, emerging from neighboring Sanjay Gandhi National Park. They kill feral dogs carrying the disease.
National Public Radio’s Super Cats Nature Series, Episode 3, shows how compassionate leopard conservation scientists educated the Mumbai residents to use nonlethal methods to protect their farm animals, children and themselves, to live side by side with leopards in a dense city ecosystem.
Tony Evers ran a compassionate campaign. We need him to appoint a transformational secretary of the DNR to transition it to compassionate stewardship for the wildlife that weave the world together.
It is a spiritual mandate. Mass extinction and climate change threaten us all.
Please write Tony Evers asking that he appoint a secretary of the Department of Natural Resources that represents the 90 percent of Wisconsin citizens who are wildlife appreciators to transition the DNR to humane stewardship of our wildlife, ending the violence on our publicly purchased lands and waterways. Wisconsin is epidemic with Lyme disease and chronic wasting disease because of the destruction of natural predators and an artificially inflated population of deer. Ending trapping would benefit the ecosystem and citizen health of this state. Contact: Tony for Wisconsin, PO Box 1879, Madison, WI 53701. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Nov. 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6784 — the Manage our Wolves Act. This bill would remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act and return wolves to states to hunt and trap in annual seasons. Urge Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin to oppose this legislation in the Senate.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on November 18, 2018.