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“I was like, Yes! Fear the wrath of man! I got a rush. I was showing the animal that I’m better, more powerful, and able to control their existence.” — anonymous hunter

AB 502, the wolf kill bill, recently passed the Assembly Natural Resources committee 13-1, with Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, the only panel member to vote against it. On Thursday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee passed the companion bill, SB 411, by 5-2.  The bill is now scheduled for Assembly action on Tuesday, March 6.

The Senate hearing on companion bill SB 411 was held Feb. 28. Most of the senators were absent for most of the six-hour hearing. Testimony was equally split pro and con. However, the special interest groups expressed a great fondness for the outdated, 20-year-old plan for reducing wolf numbers to 350.

AB 502 and SB 411 promote steel jaw traps and cable restraints, night hunting from roads and shining lights to confuse the wolves. Bait and lures. They expand hounding from cruelty to bears to include wolves (and all wildlife) 24/7 for 135 days and nights — eight months of mayhem. This gives no rest to the animals or citizens trespassed upon. Michael Vick went to prison for running a dog-fighting operation. These bills are dog and wolf bloodlust on steroids.

Bear hunters have been compensated from the Wolf License Plate Funds an average of $2,400/dog, for dogs killed when they terrorized our wildlife. If this bill goes through, wolf killers will feed at the public trough again when the dogs they pit against wolves are killed.

Richard Thiel, a DNR wildlife biologist for 34 years, created and managed the wolf recovery plan for much of 1980-2011. He urged restraint and the postponing of a wolf hunt for at least a few years. There is a plan in place for “problem wolves” who prey on livestock.

The feds say a conservative estimate of annual illegal kill in Wisconsin is 100 wolves — or 12 percent of the 690-800 wolves now here. The prudent approach would be to implement the current DNR plan for a few years, then reassess.

Adrian Treves, associate professor in UW’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and head of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, is co-author of an article titled “Rescuing Wolves From Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource.” He testified that the bill as written could affect the long-term health of the state’s gray wolf population. He said the bills propose untested methods over a very long season in too broad an area and legislate management decisions without the input of technical and scientific experts.

“The evidence simply isn’t there to indicate that hunting wolves would affect depredations of domestic animals,” he said.

Although hunters tout themselves as conservationists, Treves’ surveys in Wisconsin reveal hunter attitudes toward wolves that are largely inconsistent with stewardship. That is in line with many of the comments on wolf-hunting websites like “note to self ... bring exploding broadheads!”

Bear hunters claim they wrote these bills with seven lawyers. They apparently see the Gov. Scott Walker regime as opportunity to expand their cruelty addiction beyond bear cubs to wolves and their families.

This intense assault on wildlife is comparable to the market hunting of the 1800s. AB 502, SB 411 and SB 226, to take trapping into all state and county parks and Stewardship lands, will be voted on very soon. Contact your representatives in both houses now.

Treves said in his testimony: “The bill is inadequately focused on preventing wolf attacks on farm animals or threats to people. This bill seems to reflect a vocal minority. In so doing it will unify opponents who otherwise have not collaborated. The result will be state litigation under the Public Trust Doctrine, I predict. ... In short, although this bill claims to address depredations, the proposed rules for the hunt suggest that recreation and indiscriminate take are the goals.”

In his Wisconsin surveys, Treves found that hunting with dogs and trapping as methods generated twice as much opposition as support. Citizens were against public funds paying for dogs killed when hunters choose to put them at risk against wolves.

Treves’ said: “Wolf depredations have been the greatest obstacle to public acceptance of the wolf in Wisconsin for the last 33 years. This bill does not adequately address depredations because it ignores how predictable these depredations are and how spatially localized they have been.”

From 2007-2011, the scientists’ model was 91 percent correct in predicting where wolves would attack. Forty-three percent of the attacks took place on 6 percent of wolf habitat and better than 11 of 12 attacks took place on just a third of the state and are attributable to a few packs.

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Killing wolves across the entire North will just devastate wolf families living in prime wolf habitat minding their own business.

Many breeds of livestock guard dogs could solve these problems peaceably, leaving a key species to help solve the state’s chronic wasting disease problems.

Treves ended with: “Wisconsin scientists are still debating the amount of illegal killing of wolves and how this might change with a legal wolf-hunt. The answer will help to determine the sustainable annual quota of wolves that might be huntable. I recommend the committee amend the bill to allow one or more years delay in the wolf hunt until this issue is resolved scientifically. Haste makes waste.”

Treves seemed so appalled that Sen. Kedzie asked him if he wanted to change his testimony from “informational” to “against.”

Trash these bills. They shame all of us.

Photo courtesy of Dan Newcomb Photography

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Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife.

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