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Coyote

Coyote in a trap.

“(Dr. Valerius) Geist and Princeton University biologist Andrew Dobson theorize that killing off the wolf allowed CWD to take hold in the first place.” ~ Todd Wilkinson, "The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions and Coyotes in Battling Disease"

I traveled north to Waushara County for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner at an organic farm. Conversation fell to the deer nine-day hunt, CWD and wolves. An ex-hunter, now vegan, said, “When you go into the bars in central Wisconsin, it is all about wolves, wolves, wolves — despising them — and as for deer: 'I am not risking CWD (chronic wasting disease) — I donate the deer to the pantries.'"

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Republican legislative policies are making Wisconsin very sick. Chronic wasting disease now pervades 55 counties and has increased to 35 percent of adult bucks. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, during 2017, Wisconsin reported setting a new milestone with 4,299 cases of Lyme disease. Wisconsin is the fourth-worst state in the country for Lyme disease, and dogs are also victims.

Imbalance creates disease. Lacking natural predators, both chronic wasting and Lyme disease are spreading quickly in Wisconsin. 

Intensive trapping of midrange predators like coyotes, foxes and bobcats has caused an explosion of mice. Deer are financial and political power for the DNR. Killing trophy bucks leaves the does to produce the next cannon fodder and keep the deer herd artificially high. Deer and mice are the main carriers of Lyme disease ticks. The “lowly” opossum is the keystone species in controlling ticks. Unlike mice and deer, opossums are fastidious groomers and vacuum up thousands of ticks each summer.

In a 2017 article, "The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions and Coyotes in Battling Disease," Todd Wilkinson quotes Kevin Van Tighem, a hunter and former superintendent of Banff National Park in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies. “'I don’t know of a single credible biologist who would argue that wolves, along with other predators and scavengers, aren’t important tools in devising sound strategies for dealing with CWD.’ Van Tighem says it can be rationally argued that wolves provide the best line of defense since they are confronting infected animals.”

Wilkinson writes: “Van Tighem told me, just as a dozen other scientists and land managers who hunt have — that once CWD is confirmed in the places where they go afield, they will no longer eat game meat from that area and may stop hunting altogether.”

Bears, cougars, wolves and coyotes are absolutely necessary, in natural numbers, to control disease that can spread rapidly throughout wildlife populations, with some of them moving on  to humans.

“Critics say the denial coming from Western states (and Wisconsin) about the beneficial role predators can play in slowing the advance of CWD is driven by a backward cultural mindset — reinforced by politicians who perpetuate it to get elected — that has little or no scientific basis. In the case of CWD, states that continue to adhere to anti-predator policies may, in fact, be making disease impacts worse.”

The article continues: "'In Wisconsin, the state has spent millions of dollars depopulating areas of white-tail deer and enlisted hunters to remove animals in an effort to knock CWD back, all to no avail. CWD has spread from Wisconsin into both Minnesota and Michigan."

Wilkinson quotes from a 2011 study that concludes: "'Thus far, control strategies relying on hunting or culling by humans to lower deer numbers and subsequently CWD prevalence have not yielded demonstrable effects,’ they wrote, explaining that human hunters only remove sick deer randomly while predators actively seek out the infirmed.”

The DNR approximates (from trapper self-reporting) that 7,482 licensed trappers actively trapped and 3,765 trappers also hunted furbearers during the 2017-18 season.

Looking at what was reported, 327,650 Wisconsin wild animals suffered and died in traps in the seven-month trapping season, including 399 bobcats, 13,398 coyotes, 569 gray fox, 3,686 red fox, 1,510 otters, 223,936 muskrat, 54,664 raccoons, 18,122 beavers, and 15,112 possums. Additionally, 9,335 coyotes, 27 gray fox, 467 red fox, and 6,596 raccoons were hunted down.

4,500 bears were targeted using packs of dogs in 2018.

Fur prices were down in 2018, but coyotes “did extremely well,” bringing in $46 dead. The fur price site exclaims: “Guess we’ll all be trapping coyotes next year!”

Those are OUR coyotes, foxes, bobcats, possums, bears and wolves — and we need them!

Trap Free Montana offers additional reasons to end trapping:

• We have a right to safe use of public lands.

• Trapping commercializes wildlife, profiting a few by indiscriminately trapping the many.

• Trapping is one major cause of death to rare and threatened species we have the power to easily stop.

• Traps and snares are indiscriminate.

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• Conibear are designed as quick kill traps, crushing the animal, such as a beaver, a dog, or a person's limb.

• Most species trapped are not required to be reported.

• "Incidental" catches does not equate to acceptable and excusable.

• A vote for trap-free public lands is a vote for conservation.


Action Alert:

A resolution to end trapping on public lands in Wisconsin passed in Dane County at the annual Conservation Congress election and vote last April. I am going to defend it in the land use committee Saturday, Dec. 1. Please contact committee chair Tom Johnston: 859-285-8978 and co-chair Lars Loberg: 715-273-5072 to urge that they act to protect our wildlife and citizens by ending trapping on our public lands.

Please contact our senators and ask them to oppose any riders to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region. Scroll down to leave Sen. Tammy Baldwin a message here.  Call Sen. Ron Johnson at 202-224-5323. 

Please sign this petition to protect gray wolves.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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