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“Is that really the law with wild animals in Wisconsin? Do whatever you want with them?” — Judge Anderson, assessing DNR’s wildlife policy

Dane County Judge Peter Anderson was likely similar to many educated Wisconsin citizens. Prior to being assigned the lawsuit regarding using dogs to hunt wolves in Wisconsin, the judge apparently had little interest in, or understanding of, hunter control of the state Department of Natural Resources. It is alarming that educated people can be so disengaged from this civic responsibility.

Become engaged by watching this great video by wolf experts in assessing state wildlife agencies.

Anderson commented that the bear hounders who drafted Wisconsin’s Act 169 allowing trapping and hunting of wolves are not wolf experts and he believes there would be terrible suffering in an all-state dog/wolf fighting arena, as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed. He added, “A small minority has been able to manipulate the system in a way that the majority thinks is nuts.”

He apparently did not realize this is the norm. This small minority has run the DNR for decades, morphing hunting into science-denying recreational animal abuse, torture and thrill killing.

The judge addressed the DNR legal team: “So if 500 bear hunters decided to get together some Saturday night in summertime, when it is really dangerous, and run 2,000 dogs across Wisconsin harassing bears and other wildlife — that is fine?” The DNR legal counsel said, “Just like bird-watching or star-gazing. We use vast tracts of public land.”

Anderson’s decision was restrained to interpreting the law as written. He decided that the law referenced did not give authority to train dogs on wolves, but that Act 169 legislates that dogs can be used in the actual hunting of wolves. He charged the DNR with arbitrary and capricious negligence in refusing to set rules protecting the dogs, the wolves from dog contact, and the people involved. He ruled that the DNR has the responsibility and authority to set rules.

He further commented: “I get the libertarian slant that hunters own their dogs and should be trusted to be responsible” but added that if people could be trusted to be responsible, we would not need laws. Then he pointed out the inconsistency in hounders demanding $2,500 compensation from the endangered wildlife fund for a dog killed by a wolf in known wolf breeding territory. He finished by acknowledging that the hounders can return to the Legislature to legalize training dogs on wolves.

Right now, dogs can be run across our lands, year-round, night and day, to harass and kill coyotes without limit. If caught running dogs on wolves, hunters will likely say they are hounding coyotes. And what warden, charged with patrolling 300 square miles, would care to interrupt a gang of armed hounders and their dogs mid-chase? .

As Patricia McConnell, local animal behaviorist, wrote on her blog, “But what a sad, sad day for Wisconsin if a small contingent of hunters are allowed to exploit dogs by asking them to risk their lives as ‘man’s best friend. ’… Dogs should never be allowed to be used to hunt wolves. Period.”

Dogs should never be used to harrass and kill coyotes in the wild or in fenced enclosures, as they are. They should not be used on bobcats or bears, or any wildlife. This is state-sponsored animal cruelty. Period.

Expanding hunting and trapping in state parks, increased abuse of wildlife, and running dogs on wolves will be pushed again at the upcoming DNR statewide election of delegates, Monday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in every county. This election, privatized by hunters and trappers the past 80 years, is supposed to be attended by ALL of us to elect delegates to represent the public in governing our public lands.

Questions 16-19 in this list of policy proposal questions, which will be asked of the April 8 meeting participants, are framed as usual in these meetings, with no option not to kill wolves, or not to use dogs:

• Do you favor limiting training dogs on wolves to start the day after the nine-day deer kill to run concurrent with killing wolves and beyond, through March 31? (This will allow wolf killers to work with those who are not licensed to kill to run the wolves with unlimited dog packs during the kill, then loose dogs on wolf packs with pups beyond the killing.)

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• Do you favor a limit of six dogs per pack, but dogs can be replaced if they tire?

• Require dog ID of owner on collar or tattoo, with rabies vaccination tags while afield?

• Dog training on wolves only during normal hunting hours, when the season for killing is also open?

Finally, in this list of policy proposal questions, question 31 is another attempt to expand hunting and trapping in state parks to seven months.

Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic can help you organize in your county to elect delegates who will represent you in reclaiming your citizen rights governing public land and wildlife.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. or

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