Sarah Bergstrom: Rural Areas About More Than Wolves

Original op-ed published by the Chippewa Herald on August 31, 2017

2016 taught politicians a lesson: “Ignore northern rural Wisconsin at your peril.”

It would seem that Ron Johnson, Tammy Baldwin and Sean Duffy learned the lesson well. They have a bi-partisan coordinated effort to solve all of our problems: de-list the gray wolf as an endangered species and exempt their legislation from judicial review based on the Endangered Species Act, setting a dangerous precedent and chipping away at protection for all vulnerable species.

Come 2018, Baldwin and Duffy will tout wolves as proof positive that they care about northern Wisconsin, and they ask for your vote. Are they really meeting your needs, or is this is political pandering at its most basic?

Who lives in rural Wisconsin? Stereotypically, farmers and hunters. Who is most vocal about ridding Wisconsin of wolves? Farmers and hunters. Make them happy, and they’ll vote for you.

But we aren’t stereotypes. We certainly are hunters and farmers: groups whose contribution to our economy should not be minimized. But we are also teachers, small business owners, artists, parents, etc.

Our real needs have little to do with wolves: Clean water, quality schools, affordable access to high speed internet, increased mental health and AODA treatment, quality medical care that doesn’t cost four times the national average. We need a balance between creating good paying jobs and protecting the wild land that drives our tourism economy.

We need politicians who will dig further than stereotypes and help us solve real problems, the least of which is the big bad wolf.

Sarah Bergstrom  (Bloomer, WI)

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