“With the wolf hunt season winding down, I think Ted Nugent said it best: ‘It’s a free-for-all, baby’… all I gotta say is wack n stack.” — from the Wisconsin Wolf Hunting facebook page
It was just a few days before the school massacre at Newtown, Conn. At the Natural Resources Board meeting on Dec. 11, 66 people had assembled from all over Wisconsin, most to speak against Act 168, imposing hunting and trapping on state and county parks.
Christine Thomas, the board member who earned her seat by starting the organization Become an Outdoor Woman (BOW), showed up in a full length fur coat, knowing most people had come to protest trapping in our parks. The first order of business was a celebration of the “successful” deer kill. Thomas raised her arms in a victorious hoot to the revelation that 33 percent of 29,000 first-time deer hunters were women. Another holler celebrated the 10 percent increase in 10- and 11-year-olds buying the new $5 cheapie “kill your first deer” license.
Visitors complained afterward that the board, in its special-interest delirium, is obviously out of touch with the general public.
Several state representatives spoke. Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, author of the amendment to take over state and county parks for trapping and hunting, put the audience in its place: “Hunting, trapping and fishing are constitutional rights. Peace and quiet are not constitutional rights.” Rep. Brett Hulsey, who voted for the bill, said that he had been hearing from his constituents. “It is too broad. We may have gone too far, and may have to fix it.”
Friends of State Parks have raised millions of dollars and volunteered thousands of hours for our parks. Alienated, they may disband.
Board member Jane Wiley revealed that 7.5 million acres of public land, over 99 percent of the total, are open to the 10 percent who hunt. About 60,000 acres, less than 1 percent, were previously set aside as for the 90 percent of the public enjoying safe quiet sports and wildlife viewing.
As one speaker said, “That is a lot of sharing.”
After four hours of testimony, board member William Bruins proposed that the board tell the Legislature that having already reviewed the parks for hunting and safety issues, and given public sentiment, they would vote to keep the parks at the previous level of hunting, without trapping. The Legislature had been hearing from an awakening irate general public. Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp intervened, saying that this would violate the intention of the Legislature. (So much for the people.)
Chairman David Clausen, a farm veterinarian and an avid hunter, cast the deciding vote against leaving the parks at 2012 hunting levels. He also nixed an amendment to flag traps so that the public could avoid them, saying that the 8,000 trappers “would be upset and might have traps or dead animals stolen.” No mention of wildlife and safety stolen from millions of park supporters. So it was proposed, and unanimously passed, that all parks be newly opened to trapping and hunting Nov. 15-Dec. 15 and for all of April.
Who do they kill in April, when wildlife have babies? Turkeys are killed April 10-May 21. Otters and beavers can be trapped for six months Nov. 3-April 30. Coyotes, possums, skunks, weasels, and snowshoe hares can be killed year-round, with no reporting and no limit, leaving babies to die.
Michael Moore, filmmaker of “Bowling for Columbine,” speaking the morning of the Newtown school killing, said that even if we banned assault weapons, required background checks for all gun sales, and provided free mental health care, “We would still be the sick and twisted, violent people we have been for hundreds of years.” I would add we teach kids of any age to trap, and 10-year-olds to handle guns and kill innocent animals for sport. How can adults live in denial that teaching senseless state-sponsored violence to children can have any good result?
National Rifle Association members should be shunned like dealers in tobacco, alcohol, domestic abuse and child trafficking. They peddle death. Gun violence kills 9,000 people a year in this country. Nine children are killed every day. Compare that to 150 gun deaths a year in Canada or Germany.
In 1996, 35 people were killed in an Australian massacre. That country of macho gun lovers banned semi-automatic weapons and it bought back 650,000 guns. They have not had a mass shooting since. If there is no buyback and millions of semi-automatics are left in circulation, we can expect more massacres. But we have massacres daily in Wisconsin – loving, innocent animals just like our pets bludgeoned, tortured and killed en masse.
This is a death culture. As President Obama said, “We don’t have to tolerate this. …We have to change.”
Please sign the petition to keep Wisconsin parks safe.