Senators from Minnesota and Wisconsin introduce bill to strip protections from endangered grey wolves.
Madison, WI — Yesterday senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming introduced the “War on Wolves Act,” a companion bill to legislation introduced last week in the House of Representatives that would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting, hounding (in Wisconsin) and trapping of the species in four states. If the legislation passes both chambers and gets signed by the president, it would leave the fate of wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming to hostile states with management wolf plans that two federal courts ruled inadequate to secure the species at legally required population levels in absence of Endangered Species Act protections.
This legislation would also permanently deny citizens of the right to challenge delisting in court, even if state management plans go awry. We view this to be a direct assault on democracy and the right of Americans to challenge their government in a court of law.
Under Wisconsin’s current management plan, the grey wolf population could be reduced by nearly two-thirds by hunting, trapping, snaring and the use of hounds. This makes Wisconsin the only state in the country to allow hounds to be used against wolves, essentially legalizing a form of dog fighting by writing it into statute. Currently there are no rules regarding the “training” of these hounds, so they can legally be used 24/7 year-round against wolves immediately upon delisting. Wisconsin has not demonstrated that the state can responsibly manage wolves in the absence of federal or even basic ethical protections. The behavior of the Wisconsin DNR during the three prior kill seasons was abhorrent. Each year, established kill quotas were exceeded and entire packs were targeted and eliminated by coordinated groups of hound hunters as a form of “revenge.” This was taken from their own words on social media and accounts at the Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee meetings.
Jennifer Garde, board member and resident of Columbia County stated that “Baldwin and Kind claim that they want the wolf population ‘managed’ like all other wildlife, but if that were the case why the use of hounds, snares and a stated goal of killing off the population to a 16 year old outdated plan that the public no longer supports? No other species has a population ‘cap’ and even if it did, the majority of the public, even in wolf range, wants upwards of 700 wolves on the landscape, possibly even more. One has to ask, how is that ‘managing’ wolves like every other species? If Wisconsin wants to manage a real problem species, why not regulate the 12,000 hounds running at large on our public lands each summer? These people have been reimbursed over 700,000 dollars for dead hounds that they put into harm’s way.”
The Wisconsin DNR’s Wolf Advisory Committee also blocked interested pro-wolf parties or scientists from outside of the DNR from participating. Individual tribal representatives were also not invited or allowed on the Wolf Advisory Committee. Only a single representative from GLIFWC is on the panel. GLIFWC only represents 5 of the 11 tribes in Wisconsin, so more than 50% of the tribes have no say or vote. These restrictions exist despite the DNR’s own study showing very large support for the wolf population statewide and a slight majority of support in wolf country. Overall, wolf advocates are completely excluded from any decision making kill quotas or “management” of the species. That is not only offensive to the advocates but also an affront to democracy itself. All citizens should have a say and not just special interest lobbying groups that wish to have the species removed from the landscape entirely. The “goal” of 350 wolves in the 1999 management plan wasn’t designed to be a cap, but a number at which there would be more options for state management.
Mary Anderson, a Washburn County farmer, stated that she has to work a full time job in addition to running her farm. “Wolves are the farthest thing down my list of problems. I’m worried about having jobs in rural Wisconsin, clean water, and watching out for family farms. Honestly, I’ve had more problems with loose dogs than the resident wolf pack along the river.” Wolf depredations or “issues” occurred at only 31 of the over 70,000 farms in Wisconsin. This is hardly a “crisis” and those suffering “losses” are reimbursed with state and federal funds.
The positive ecological and social benefits of wolves far outweigh any negatives. Wolves are performing an extremely valuable ecological function by taking down deer in the earlier stages of chronic wasting disease, likely controlling the spread of the disease throughout the entire state herd. Wolves help keep the landscape healthy and it is especially concerning to see management of this species returned to a state where the political favors and pandering to special interests take priority over sound scientific principles and established scientific fact.
Primary Contact: Melissa Smith, Executive Director, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife
For more information:
League of Humane Voters®
Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife
117 Ardmore Drive
Madison, WI 53713