I am out of patience with the idea that natural things must justify their existence in terms of the benefits they bring us.” ~ Ron Meador, “At the Vatican, a discussion of forces driving species to mass extinction”
There were high hopes in those of us fighting climate change and extinction when former Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers won the Democratic nomination for governor. Evers described his campaign as “compassionate.” We hoped for respect for all life.
This was a chance that we would begin the revolution we need to transform the Department of Natural Resources. Since its inception, the DNR has stacked the game, giving control of our lands and wildlife to those who do great harm and cause great suffering to wildlife. Follow the DNR’s money — primarily obtained from killing wildlife — to understand the power structure.
We who love our wildlife demand that, for the first time, we be allowed representation in the agency, instead of having zero say.
My hope for Tony Evers is that as an educator, he is educable.
The Vatican met in February 2017 and pronounced biodiversity and climate destruction co-equal as urgent threats to the survival of humans and all life on this planet.
Stanford’s renowned ecologist Paul Ehrlich spoke there: “The most recent Live Planet Index has estimated that wildlife abundance on the planet dropped by some 60 percent between 1970 and 2012.
“The richest biota the world has ever seen is disappearing in the blink of an eye from the perspective of geological time. And humanity is busily making it worse.”
The transition team and governor-elect could heed the urgency to change direction from real scientists at major universities warning us that the status quo cannot stand. The “Call of Life” documentary and the “extinction website” containing hundreds of scientific articles could have compelled Evers to find a revolutionary figure — a compassionate steward of wildlife — to transform the DNR into a first-time democracy in response to crisis.
Tony Evers cares about children. That means caring about and for a LIVING world — not sacrificing our wildlife to the usual patriarchal violence and torment that has been dominant for hundreds of years.
That violence has brought us to this:
• A recent biomass study of life on earth shows that 60 percent of mammals on earth are livestock, 36 percent are humans and only 4 percent of remaining biomass is wild mammals.
• 60 percent of large mammals, which are being trophy-killed, face extinction right now. Bears, wolves, bobcats, and cougars are at token numbers. People get used to less and less wildlife and the baseline for each generation is reset. So 900 wolves with 3.5 million livestock and 5.8 million people in Wisconsin is touted as enough. It is not.
Preston Cole, as a member and then chair of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, during the past decade has presided over massive cruelty and destruction of indigenous wildlife while prioritizing our state parks and public lands to serve hunters and trappers. He has been a willing part of a system biased toward hunter/farmer/developer control of our commons as a commodity for exploitation and private destruction in service to the few.
Like Big Tobacco and Big Oil, Big Hunting and the NRA craft their supposed science to serve their own agenda and maintain control.
Tony Evers’ appointment of Preston Cole is a wasted opportunity. If Gov. Evers takes time to understand this corrupt system, perhaps he can turn Cole upside down.
We can love our wildlife and change the world. We can help them recover from hundreds of years of assault and cruelty, and below is just a common-sense start:
• End trapping. End predator-killing contests. End persecution of coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears and wolves. Wisconsin is plagued with lyme disease and chronic wasting disease because of killing off of predators. Natural predators balance and control mice and deer populations that are the main carriers of the lyme ticks. Trappers and hunters destroy that balance.
• 18,122 beavers were trapped in body-gripping traps in 2017-18, sold for an average $8.98 per skin. Beavers are the most life-giving water-keepers on earth — creating habitat for half the rare and endangered species we are destroying. Trappers dynamite beaver dams on 2,000 miles of river systems designated as stocked, farmed “trout streams.” Life needs beavers.
• End hounding. It is cruel and disruptive to all wildlife. Replace it with “humane hounding.” Britain has replaced the fox hunt, banned in 2004, with men on horseback and dogs chasing running humans. “There’s no fox torn to shreds and the people who get caught just get licked by a group of dogs.” This is brilliant.
• Raise the age to start killing from any toddler to 18 to give children a chance to develop a moral compass before making such peer pressure decisions. Children should not be indoctrinated into killing.
Gov. Evers has the chance to end great suffering and loss, but appointing Cole bodes more of the same tragedy. And we are way out of time.
Please contact Gov. Evers at his transition team site and express concern for our wildlife and for reforming the DNR to be democratically funded rather than funded by hunting and gun fees. Let him know your experiences as a non-hunter at the so-called Conservation Congress annual election and vote. Support ending trapping and hounding and raising the age for hunting. You can contact them through their form here or firstname.lastname@example.org and 608-267-2560.
This post was originally published in the The Madison CapTimes on January 6, 2019.