“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.” — Martin Luther King
On Jan. 17, the Wisconsin Senate passed AB 104 into law, 23-9, establishing hunter/trapper control of the Natural Resources Board in perpetuity. Master of all they survey, the killing minority has relegated our commons to killing fields, and rendered the rest of us citizens powerless amidst perpetual violence.
We certainly are not worthy of sharing this planet. Rather, we have moved further into abuse of the sacred, about to expand trapping into all public lands with SB 226. The bill, poised to go before the same Legislature that gave the throne to the good ol’ boy killing patriarchy in AB 104, would also let hunters and trappers into the schools to mentor children to become sadists and serial killers of animals, for credit.
You do not have to imagine what happens to animals that are killed. They suffer lingering deaths, then are beheaded, gutted, turned inside out, and displayed over Styrofoam. Yes, hunters and trappers are the great conservationists, killing all they can scour from every piece of our land.
How disoriented would a hunter or trapper be to go into the state agency and find no “killing licenses” for sale? That is exactly how bizarre it is for me to find no “saving licenses” offered. Aldo Leopold warned of this. Only democracy can protect nature. We must replace killing licenses with general public funding tied to fair democratic representation in the Natural Resources Board, DNR, and entire political process governing our natural economy. It is our right.
I did a partial survey of hunted Wisconsin species and their rapid decline. Often these species are disappearing much faster than the 35 percent decline in wildlife numbers worldwide over past 35 years, a trend that has senior scientists trumpeting final warnings to humanity. Sharp-tailed grouse: 70 percent decline in 20 years; pheasants: 60 percent decline in 38 years; woodcock: 50 percent decline in 20 years; the beautiful snowshoe hares: 95 percent decline in 23 years; foxes: 80 percent decline in 22 years; gray partridge and bobwhite quail: flat-lining at near zero the past 16 years; ruffed grouse: 65 percent decline in 23 years; and even squirrels and raccoons have declined 60 percent in the past few decades.
The cottontail massacre peaked at 580,000 killed in 1984, and now “yields’” a mere 100,000, a drop of 80 percent in 27 years. Mourning dove kill, started in 2003, killed 140,000 birds (and more that were wounded and not found) the first year, and six years later, 100,000: 30 percent decline in six years.
The human destruction of such a volume of prey animals leaves natural predators starving, in a cascade of further loss. Motherless cubs wander until they die. Unlimited traps on trap lines, unlimited bag limits. Hidden traps are landmines putting all creatures are at risk.
The citizens of Wisconsin own a common “store.” Over the past 20 years, we have invested $803 million just in the real estate of the Stewardship Fund. Ninety percent of that investment is from nonhunters. Beginning 2010-11, the annual bonding authority was increased to $86 million through 2019-20, or another $860 million, accruing to a $1.663 billion in general public investment. Shouldn’t we all have partnership in governing our investment?
Streaming through our store is life: our forests, waterways and hiking paths, our wildlife and all the organisms including frogs, toads, turtles, fish, furry critters that swim and burrow, feathered creatures that fly and nest, and natural carnivores that raise their young, migrate and are known to protect the balance of life in a harmonious system. It is a system we imperfectly understand.
Here is a video of Nyac, a little otter who survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Should her kind die in traps?
Trapper revenue in 2011, according to DNR contact Bill Cosh, totalled $98,000. A total of 517,385 wild animals were killed in traps last year by 8,694 trappers. That is 19 cents in revenue per animal killed. It does not include the “trash” animals killed as collateral damage. Hunting licenses, nonresident and resident, and hunting stamps, generated a meager $31 million in 2011. Fishing licenses and stamps added about $29 million, and combination licenses another $10 million.
I am baffled that the 90 percent of citizens who do not hunt accept exclusion from democratic participation in nature policy. We do not need a saving license or new tax. The majority brings $190 million to state tax coffers, annually, by helping and viewing rather than destroying wildlife. (I extrapolated this 2006 study forward six years at 8 percent per year to arrive at the $190 million figure.)
These funds should be legislated to replace killing licenses with general public funding for wildlife agencies, with fair representation for nonhunters.
When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. AB 104, SB 119, and SB 226 are unjust. Or are we unequal citizens? Civil disobedience is our only recourse.
Sign a petition against killing bears: http://signon.org/sign/stop-the-slaughter-of.
Please take this beaver survey to help beavers. It ends Jan. 31: http://www.uwex.edu/erc/survey/.
Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. firstname.lastname@example.org