Our wildlife is in desperate need of help. The state Department of Natural Resources allows wildlife to be killed in traps and hunted with dogs, which is cruel. Wildlife is killed for fashion, trophies and the thrill of blood sport. Where is our humanity?The DNR has extended trapping to our state parks, and has also extended the hunting and trapping seasons. Where can the public go to enjoy our wilderness that is safe?Your voice matters. Speak up on behalf of our animals by contacting your representatives and attending the Conservation Congress county meetings on Monday. For information: http://www.wiwildlifeethic.org.- Deanna S. Devaul, Madison
“The true measure of how free a society is how its dissidents are treated, not those who refrain from meaningful anti-government activism and dissent.” — Glenn Greenwald, “With Liberty and Justice for Some”
Pay attention to a vitally important election that is hiding in plain sight.
Monday, April 8, 2013, at 7 p.m., all citizens are invited to attend the Wisconsin Conservation Congress election.
In every county, you can vote against running dogs on wolves altogether. You can vote against expanding the newly initiated hunting and trapping in state parks from two months to seven. You can vote against killing coyotes through the nine-day deer kill. Most importantly, you can elect two delegates of five for each county to represent you in governing our 7.5 million acres of public lands and our wildlife.
This election helps determine the quality of life for all citizens — it affects air, water, soil, mining, energy use, climate change and destruction of species. This election and vote is our only official citizen representation to the Legislature, Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board. It is paraded out before the Legislature, annually, as the public’s will.
I contacted the Government Accountability Office to find out why such an important election is not more transparent than it is. The Conservation Congress is “only advisory,” so it is not subject to Wisconsin election laws. It operates in a gray area, with great power and little oversight. No wonder candidates are announced on the floor of the event that night and never debate issues publicly. On average some 5,000 avid hunters, trappers and hounders attend statewide every year — and they elect themselves back into power. The election shoots under most progressives’ noses, stinking of death, unrecognized.
Hidden in plain sight.
When I walked into the Conservation Congress election for the first time in 1997 and realized that nature herself is under the control of a minority whose goal is primarily to maximize killing wildlife, it was a rude awakening. At that time, the few nonhunters attending this public election and voting were seriously intimidated by men who kill wildlife regularly. Men made their arms into long guns and targeted us with pretend trigger-pulls. Dozens of people attended Natural Resource Board meetings to demand that something be done about this intimidation, and the response was, “Our boys were just having fun.”
Wednesday night, I returned home from staffing a table for Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic at the “True Wolf” movie to open a letter from Tim Lawhern, DNR Division of Law Enforcement. The letter addressed my “disruptive and threatening behavior” at the Natural Resources Board meeting Feb. 26. There I had displayed a barbed wire-wrapped pole commonly used by hunters who run down wildlife with packs of dogs. Since the multiple packs of dogs can be replaced with fresh dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves, or any animals who cannot make it to a tree are run to exhaustion. If they hide in a culvert or den, this barbed pole is thrust into their flesh and twisted to extract them and throw them to the dogs.
No doubt it is an embarrassment to the Natural Resources Board to have this exposed with an example of the barbed pole displayed. The pole and the idea of using it on flesh is indeed disturbing. But it was the wielding of a metaphor that upset the board. As an English major, I understand metaphor, defined as “the application of a phrase it does not literally denote … suggesting comparison to that concept.” I, too, was “having a little fun,” ending my testimony with: “Maybe I should try this on you (indicating the board) to get you out of that deep hole you have dug for yourselves.” Were the board members literally in a hole? Of course not. It was a comparison — not a literal intention. If board members felt mere imagery so keenly, should they be promoting dog-fighting and barbed wire poles on real flesh?
The DNR letter contends that I may continue to attend NRB meetings, and provide written testimony, “but may not orally testify at these meetings … or distribute information, not carry in props, signs or display items.”
In other words, they intend to muzzle me. And, interestingly, since I was not arrested as a threat, on this trumped up first “offense,” there are no laws cited as broken. Even more telling, there is no timeframe given for this arbitrary “sentence.” Lifetime?
In “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” Glenn Greenwald aptly depicts my situation in relation to the DNR and Natural Resources Board: “In essence, the bargain offered by the state is as follows: If you meaningfully challenge what we’re doing, then we will subject you to harsh recriminations.” He continues: “Rights exist to protect dissidents and those who challenge orthodoxies, not those who acquiesce to those orthodoxies or support state power.”
My First Amendment rights are denied arbitrarily.
Greenwald says, “The genius is that those who accept (passive compliance), are easily convinced that repression does not exist.”
Election posters and flyers for download are available at www.wiwildlifeethic.org.
MADISON (AP) – A Democratic state senator plans to introduce a longshot bill that would prohibit Wisconsin wolf hunters from using dogs, marking another chapter in a months-long battle to stop the practice before it begins.
Sen. Fred Risser of Madison sent an email to the rest of the Legislature on Monday asking for co-sponsors. He noted that Wisconsin is the only one of seven states with a wolf hunt that allows dogs. He said humane societies are concerned about the risk of bloody clashes between dogs and wolves.
“It doesn’t make sense to me. It’s nothing more than state-sanctioned dog fighting,” Risser said in a telephone interview. “We shouldn’t have done it in the first place and maybe we can stop it before it becomes too ingrained.”
A lawyer representing a group of humane societies that sued last year to ban wolf hunters from using dogs called the bill “wonderful.”
“That would be a very sane change in public policy,” said Carl Sinderbrand, an attorney for the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Inc. “It would reflect the will of the vast majority of Wisconsinites.”
But the bill has almost no chance of success; Republicans control both the state Senate and Assembly.
Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, was the chief sponsor of the bill that established the wolf hunt. He serves as Assembly majority leader and plays a huge role in deciding what legislation makes it to the floor for a vote. He said during a telephone interview Monday that Risser’s proposal will probably go nowhere.
“To totally eliminate an entire privilege that is out there for sportsmen, it goes too far,” Suder said.
The wolf hunt has been a flashpoint of contention since Republicans passed Suder’s bill about a year ago. Animal rights advocates see the hunt as unnecessary; farmers maintain something must be done to control a burgeoning wolf population preying on their livestock.
The bill scheduled the wolf season to run from Oct. 15 to the end of February or whenever hunters reached a kill limit imposed by the state Department of Natural Resources. The legislation allows hunters to pursue wolves with up to six dogs after the end of the November gun deer season.
Emergency rules the DNR crafted to get the first hunt off the ground limited dog use to daylight hours but set no other restrictions. A group of humane societies filed a lawsuit in August alleging the lack of regulations would lead to deadly wolf-dog fights during the season and throughout the rest of the year as hunters trained their hounds on wolves.
Dane County Circuit Judge Peter C. Anderson temporarily barred hunters from using dogs while he weighed the case. The first season began and ended while the prohibition was in place. The ban didn’t seem to hamper hunters; the DNR closed the season two months early in December after hunters had killed 117 wolves, one more than their limit.
When Anderson revisited the lawsuit in January, he concluded that the DNR didn’t have to impose restrictions on dogs in wolf hunts but that it should have tweaked its rules to account for the risk in training dogs on wolves. He issued a double-sided ruling, saying hunters could use dogs to pursue wolves during the season but barred them from training on wolves.
The DNR is currently drafting permanent rules that would allow hunters to train dogs on wolves during in-season daylight hours and the month of March. Each dog also would have to be tattooed or wear a collar with its owner’s name and address. The agency doesn’t expect to implement the rules until 2014.
The humane societies say that’s not good enough because hunters will face no restrictions going into the 2013-14 hunt.
“I cannot tell you how this coyote has turned me upside down. Wiley is a member of our family. I feel like I am fighting for the life of my relative!” ~ Rick Hanestad, Dunn County, Wisconsin
It is not often that a hunter calls me, asking for help. In November, I found an urgent message on my answer machine. I returned the call immediately. Rick Hanestad, Nascar All American Series driver, life-long hunter/trapper and hound hunter, was calling me to help him save the life of a coyote.
Rick launched into his story. His father and uncle farm over 1000 acres in western Dunn County. In March, 2011, his uncle allowed a neighbor to hunt turkeys on his land. The DNR promotes coyote killing 24/7 year-round, so that hunter killed a lactating female coyote. Rick said, “Patricia, I don’t like that. When I heard a female was shot in the spring, it made me sick to my stomach.” He and his then 7 year-old daughter and 14 year-old son went looking for her pups. Three days later they found five crying puppies, their eyes not yet open. But he was “so scared of the DNR” that he just raked around the den to make sure it was the den of the coyote killed. When he checked again, then the fifth day since the coyote had been shot, only one pup remained alive, dehydrated and weak. Rick and his family spent the night dripping fluids down his throat. They named him Wiley.
Asked what he thought would happen, Rick said, “I figured that at about 6 months he would be so vicious, I would either let him go, or shoot him.” Did he ever show any aggression to their old male lab, their children, or their horses – to anyone? “Never. He is such a sweet animal. I trust him absolutely with my 8 year-old daughter. He is best friends with our dog.”
In November, 2012, a policeman was called out to neighboring land on a deer-stand dispute. Seeing the coyote outside in a pen, the policeman informed Rick’s wife that “the DNR will be out to pick up your coyote.” (to kill him )
Rick dedicated himself, full-time, to save their family pet. He called the local warden, the town supervisor, his legislators, and an outdoor radio host in Minnesota. Hanestad wrote Representative Mursau’s aide,” In our state we have numerous coyotes, but without hunting dogs, who ever sees one? I would love to take him to things like a biology class at schools or other situations where his extraordinary kindness around people could be shared.”
He continued, “I also found out about an individual that lives about an hour from our home in Ladysmith, WI. This person (owns) a place that people take their hunting hounds to chase coyotes in an enclosed pen. Talking with one person that uses the pen I was told that coyotes are chased and, on occasion, tore to pieces by hounds while people watch. This guy does have a license legal by our state. I can’t believe it! “ A neighbor’s son had seen a coyote killed by a pack of dogs in that enclosure, with people enjoying the “sport”.
Wisconsin coyotes have been taken legally from our state, for this legalized fenced torture, and required reports have not been made for 10 years. There has been no DNR oversight. Former DNR head of special investigations, Tom Solin, told me, a decade ago, that the DNR should not allow coyotes to be used in these enclosures because they cannot climb trees or hide from the dogs. They get ripped apart on the ground.
Hanestad was looking for a way to get his coyote’s story to the public. Someone at the DNR gave him my name. He told me, “They might as well send 5 police officers, because they will not be taking our coyote, they will be taking me.”
All this required is a commonly DNR- issued captive wildlife license. I made a few calls targeted to captive wildlife DNR personnel, asking if Hanestad has to promise to have this coyote ripped apart by dogs to get the appropriate license. The next day, Rick called me, joyfully: “The DNR will sell me Wiley for $24.00, and the cost of the state license, no fine, and I just have to build him a 144 square foot pen. He would be standing in his own feces. I am building him an acre. He is ours!”
Rick says Wiley is the star of his hunting community. People come to sit in the living room and hear him sing a thousand different songs. “Patricia, the different vocalizations amaze me on a nightly basis. I’ve heard coyotes numerous times in the wild, but no one can possibly appreciate how beautiful they sound. My family gets to hear different songs every night.”
Hanestad describes himself as having a deep lineage in hunting. His uncle taught him hunting and trapping from the age of five. All his teen years he trapped, on average, setting 100 traps on a trap-line. His average take was “130 coons, 40-50 red foxes, and 15-20 coyotes per season”. He told me, “I always heard ‘the only good coyote is a dead coyote’. The coyotes would be snarling in a foothold trap, and I would beat them to death with a stick. I have killed hundreds of them. I never thought about it. I thought of it just like getting rid of weeds.”
And now? “It makes me sick to my stomach when I think of what I did in the past.”
Does he think other coyotes are just like Wiley? “Absolutely – they don’t do a thing to harm anybody.” Why does he think they are so hated? “Ignorance – it is just ignorance.” Does it make him rethink all of his assumptions about animals?
Hanestad emailed me, “When the warden and the state wildlife biologist came to visit him, Wiley fell to his back and the biologist scratched his belly. The biologist stated ‘oh my god; he’s just like a dog’. That to me was worth its weight in gold because on the spot I changed his opinion of coyotes.”
I asked him how many hard core hunters he thought would be changed by meeting Wiley. Hanestad replied “20% the first ten minutes – and 100% if they had experienced a week of what I have. How could they not be changed?” But he cautioned, “Some people choose to remain ignorant.”
Wiley Coyote, Trickster, power animal, has come to Wisconsin. Wisconsin citizens can no longer tolerate a legislature and DNR who choose ignorance.
The Natural Resources Board meets Feb. 26 in Madison to take comments on permanent rules to use packs of dogs to hunt wolves. The deadline to register to comment is February 19 at Laurie.Ross@Wisconsin.gov. Written comments can be made through February 22.
As reported in Thursday’s State Journal, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress — made up mostly of hunters and trappers — wants to turn the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center into a training facility for hunters and trappers.
This is understandable. Their shrinking numbers desire institutional legitimacy for their self-described “outdoor skills.” By recruiting school children, they want to counter the public’s growing realization that what in frontier days was a violent necessity is today just a cruel pastime.
Less clear is why the Department of Natural Resources promotes this distorted view of what constitutes “outdoor skills.” Most Wisconsinites, including the taxpayers who support the DNR, do not need to spill blood on wildlife lands to enjoy them.
– Charles Talbert, Monona
WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2013) – A coalition of wildlife protection groups, including The Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s most recent decision to delist wolves became effective last year, after multiple previous attempts to delist wolves were struck down by the courts over the course of the last decade. The decision threatens the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region – where state wildlife managers have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.
“In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed hundreds of Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “This decision rolls back the only line of defense for wolf populations, and paves the way for the same state-sponsored eradication policies that pushed this species to the brink of extinction in the first place.”
“The Endangered Species Act is popularly considered one of the most powerful conservation laws on the books, but it is rendered impotent if species are not allowed to recover fully across the breadth of their range before delisting,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Simply put, the gray wolf still requires protection under the Act.”
“Wolf populations are just at the threshold of rebounding in many areas across the Great Lakes Region,” said Linda Hatfield, executive director of Help Our Wolves Live. “The recent delisting has taken the wolf back to the old days, days before the ESA, the days of state-sponsored bounty payments to hunters and trappers that were intended to eliminate wolves from the landscape.”
Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, night hunting and the use of steel-jawed leg hold traps. Together, hunters and trappers killed more than 500 wolves in these two states in less than four months. These losses are in addition to natural limiting factors and a wide range of other human-caused impacts, such as the killing of wolves by damage control agents, poachers, and, inadvertently, by automobile drivers.
The Michigan legislature recently amended state law to designate wolves as a game species, which would allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves. There is a referendum campaign, launched by animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, in progress to place the measure on the ballot and nullify the action of the legislature.
The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section. The complaint was filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia.
FROM ALLIANCE FOR ANIMALS: Alert to AFA members and supporters and concerned citizens in Dane County:
If you have the opportunity, please attend and show your support for
limiting publicly-owned property open to trapping.
While we oppose trapping everywhere, we believe this is a step in the
right direction and allows the county to set a precedent that could
be important if and when the state requirement is overturned.
Dane County Park Commission
Date and Time: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 5:30 pm
Location: Lyman F. Anderson Agriculture & Conservation Center
5201 Fen Oak Drive – Conference A-B
Madison, WI 53718
Wisconsin State Journal article below:
Calling the practice cruel and inhumane, a Dane County supervisor Wednesday night will unveil a proposal to reduce the amount of county-owned land available for trapping.
Sup. Cynda Solberg, District 36, wants to limit trapping to county land bought with the help of state Stewardship funds that make hunting and trapping a requirement as part of the purchase agreement. The proposal, which will be introduced to the Parks Commission on Wednesday night, could remove up to 345 of the county’s 1,871 acres in wildlife areas that are currently open to trapping, according to the county’s most recent statistics.
“If I had my way I would like to see it banned completely,” said Solberg. “But realistically this is the best we can do.”
The plan would require County Board approval.
Solberg said she was the lone dissenter last year when the board approved accepting state Stewardship funds to help pay for a 25-acre addition to McCarthy Park near Cottage Grove. The use of Stewardship money — a state source many local governments tap to expand or buy new land for parks — made McCarthy the first recreational park in the county to allow trapping.
At about the same time, the state Legislature passed a bill that strengthened rules allowing trapping and hunting on public land purchased with Stewardship money.
Solberg said traps “torture” animals and also endanger young children and pets. Although reports of pets killed or children injured in traps over the past few years are rare, she called them accidents waiting to happen.
“The argument is that traps are not in (recreational) areas. But I ask those people, ‘Do you have children? They never stay where they are supposed to,'” Solberg said. “It’s not reasonable to say it will only trap what it’s intended for. It’s like playing with fire. Why wait for something to happen?”
Mark Peters, a district director for the Wisconsin Trappers Association, said the broad trapping rights granted by the state constitution may only be limited by reasonable restrictions.
“I understand that certain areas should not be open, but there are areas that are county-owned that are open right now that are not causing problems for anybody,” he said.
But Solberg said it’s difficult to thoroughly enforce the law requiring trappers to check their traps daily. She added that she has heard too many stories of animals stuck in traps for days waiting for the trappers to show up and kill them.
“We have no idea where these traps really are. It’s impossible to oversee something like that,” Solberg said. “All these rules are great, but I don’t buy it that they can be checked up on.”
Peters said trappers do a good job of policing themselves. “There are always a few people who violate the rules, but, by far, the vast majority of trappers are trying to do it the right way, ethically and staying within the regulations, sometimes way beyond the regulations, to avoid potential problems,” Peters said.
Peters said approved traps will not kill pets or injure children. He added trapping is used today in city and county parks to control wildlife populations that are damaging public lands and creating public health risks.
A differing opinion was offered by Rick Bogle, a spokesman for the animal rights group Alliance for Animals that Solberg said asked her to sponsor the amendment. “Wild populations just aren’t running amok,” said Bogle.
Bogle called Solberg’s amendment a step in the right direction. “A very few of us want to go out and set traps, leave them there for a period of time until they come back and kill the animals trapped in them and make money selling their pelts,” he said. “That tiny fraction has completely been allowed to trump the concerns of a much larger, majority opinion. I don’t think it’s at all fair that the state forces communities to do this. We think the mandate is biased and undemocratic.”