In the Sacred Circle…

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

“The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.” ~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~

U.S. House Passes Bill To De-List Wolves From Endangered Species

Click here to listen to full story from WXRP by Ken Krall and Rachel Tilseth

The U.S. House earlier this month passed an appropriations bill that has language in it changing the status of the gray wolf from federally protected to delisted in the lower 48 states.

This movement has been asked for by people who want to control the wolf population in the Great Lakes states, but has alarmed an advocate who wants to keep federal protection of wolves.

Rachel Tilseth has the blog Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. She has an update on the bill that passed the U.S. House… http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

“…so this bill contains language to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. So what they are going to do is delist them and make sure they stay delisted in Wyoming and Montana and a couple other states out there. They also want no review of those decisions through a federal judge. They want to make sure that doesn’t happen. That would also take care of delisting the great lakes as well….”

Congressman Sean Duffy and both Wisconsin U.S. Senators, Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, have called for delisting. Last summer, a federal appeals court retained federal protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region, ruling the government made crucial errors when it dropped them from the endangered species list five years ago.

Tilseth says if the de-listing happens, then a wolf hunt will likely happen again in Wisconsin which concerns her…

“…In the last three hunts, from 2012-2014. So they will start that whole process over again and start hunting, that is, unless we can go in and get greater transparency with the public, then perhaps we can change things….”

Some hunters and farmers have called for the delisting to control the wolf population and to remove wolves taking livestock. Wolf de-listing advocates say the population has grown too large and should be controlled.

Recent reports find the number of wolves in Wisconsin leveling off. This year’s wolf count shows there are between 905 and 944 wolves in the state. That’s about a 2 percent drop from last year.

Featured photograph By John E Marriott

Wisconsin’s Elusive Gray Wolf Deserves Our Protection…

In the late 1970s wolf Recovery in Wisconsin began. The Gray wolf made a comeback after being eradicated through hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. It wasn’t long before hunting special interests groups began their bid to get Wisconsin’s Gray wolf delisted. Sadly after 40 years of recovery these special interests (Fringe hunters) hunting groups got their way. In the state of Wisconsin the Gray wolf is hunted (2012-2014) for a fireplace rug & mounted as trophy when he’s not listed on the Endangered Species List. He was delisted in 2012 and his domestic relative, the dog, was used to track and trail him until a federal judged ordered the Gray wolf back on the ESL in December 2014. Today Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is facing multiple delisting threats in congress backed by special interests; wanting the Gray Wolf’s habitat for oil & gas, lumbering, and the Gray wolf himself for trophy hunting.

Visit Rachel’s blog at http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

U.S. House Passes Bill To De-List Wolves From Endangered Species.

We must make it right…get it right…before we lose everything…the wolf is a social animal just like we are…they depend on family for survival…so do we as human-beings…

The idea that only man is equipped for conserving our planet’s natural resources is a dying concept; dying right along with the untold numbers of wild sentient beings killed in the name of conservation. Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of conserving wildlife.

It’s going to take a major shift in thinking that will require opening up lines of communication between the general public; specifically with interests in conserving our natural resources for future generations to come. It’s not about numbers. It’s about sentient beings sharing our planet, and how we can coexist for the benefit of all living upon Mother Earth.

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking…

Through my mind’s eye memories flow through the years spent within the Gray Wolf’s range in Wisconsin’s northern forests in Douglas county starting in the year 2000. There you’ll find vast wilderness of forests and barrens where the Gray wolf resides.

Do you think there’s room for the Gray wolf? The following video was shot 2 summers ago in 2015. This landscape is found on a 15 mile long remote gravel road in northern Wisconsin. Do you think there’s room for the wolf?

Last summer, 2018, I visited this same area (in the video) with friend Elke Duerr and who’s filming in the photograph.

When I began helping to monitor Wisconsin’s Gray wolf in the year 2000 there were only 66 Gray wolf packs in the state. Today’s wolf over winter wolf population counts is around 945 individuals.

In northern Wisconsin beauty can be found where the Gray wolf resides. I’ve walked these trails for over two decades in search of Wisconsin’s wild & elusive gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin trots freely down the wild and remote gravel roads in Douglas county.

Rains of summer create a lush paradise in wolf range.

The Gray wolf in northern Wisconsin. Photograph screen shot from Red Cliff reservation trail cam.

In summer of July 2018 I met a Raven on a remote gravel road in Douglas county. Douglas county is home for Wisconsin’s wild Gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin deserves our protection…

Contact your members of Congress today.

Round Two in Public Hearings as SB 602 Fails the Fact-Check-Test…

A public hearing took place Tuesday January 16, 2018 on bill SB 602 . The companion bill in the assembly, Ill conceived Assembly Bill 712 Takes a Nose-Dive in Public Hearing was held last Wednesday January 10, 2018. This bill would make it illegal for WI DNR wardens or any WI state law enforcement to enforce state or federal law relating to management of wolves in Wisconsin. In other words, if a WI DNR warden came across any suspected illegal killings of wolves they would not be allowed to investigate it. Or even report suspected illegal killings of wolves to the federal authorities.

The goal of this ill conceived bill is to dump all responsibility of wolf management onto the feds. The architects’ of this proposed legislation want to wash their hands of the state’s wolf management. One program on chopping block, if the legislation passes, would be the volunteer wolf tracking program started in 1995. I’ve been a part of this program as a citizen volunteer wolf tracker since the year 2000. This means that WI DNR staff can no longer monitor wolves or the citizen volunteers.

This legislation is being put forth by a minority of politicians claiming this bill is necessary as wolves are taking over northern Wisconsin. Rep. Adam Jarchow claims wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herd and reeking havoc on farmer’s livestock in northern Wisconsin. Senator Tiffany and Representative Jarchow’s way of wolf management is holding a trophy hunt. Wisconsin is also the only state that sanctions wolf-Hounding. Either way it’s obvious that this legislation is not guided by or based on good sense.

“This is a far-reaching bill, this is a ploy to get their way, this is a way to drum up more publicity for their cause and they’re not telling the truth,” Tilseth said. “They’re not giving real facts.” Wisconsin Public Radio Interview November 12, 2017

Let’s fact check the claims being made by Senator Tom Tiffany and representative Adam Jarchow (the main architects behind this legislation). According to Senator Tiffany and Representative Jarchow wolves are out of control killing livestock. But the facts from Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources regarding wolf depredations on livestock just don’t match up with their claims. The following is from WI DNR Wolf Monitoring Reports 2016-2017 Winter:

The number of incidents decreased 29% from 2015-16 when 52 incidents of depredation to livestock were confirmed.” WI DNR Wolf Monitoring Reports 2016-2017 Winter

Let’s now fact check the two politicians claims that wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin. The following graphic explains how wolves are impacting northern Wisconsin’s White-tailed deer herd.

Nine-day 2016 Wisconsin deer hunt totals for Northern Forest Zone 23,445 (30% increase) antlered (buck). The Northern Forest Zone is in wolf range.

It would appear Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is building a healthier White-tailed deer herd and wolf depredations on livestock are down. Thus, when fact checking the scientific data-contrasted to the political rhetoric; it’s obvious that this legislation is not guided by or based on good sense. Or even based on any factual or scientific data for that matter.

The number of wolf depredations decreased 29% from 2015-16 when 52 incidents of depredation to livestock were confirmed.

Another side of this misguided legislation is that Wisconsin could lose millions in dollars in federal funding as Attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin pointed out in last weeks public hearing on the companion AB 712. Read on:

“It’s not a clear issue and it’s difficult to resolve as it makes sense,” said Jodi Habush Sinykin, environmental attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates. “There are millions of dollars of federal funds at stake as well if Wisconsin were to pursue this task.” Ill conceived Assembly Bill 712 Takes a Nose-Dive in Public Hearing WODCW’s Blog

I invite you to watch the following video from HSUS Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Tedrowe’s testimony regarding SB 602. I used my iPhone to tape the public hearing while viewing it on my iPad. It was alarming that a Senator would draw a line in the center of the state in an effort to rationalize his proposed legislation. Tiffany’s line of questioning of HSUS state representative Tedrowe was a pun. Tiffany implied wolves should be moved to Monona Wisconsin because it was once part of their historic range. Tedrowe’s response was composed and dignified.

“Senator Tiffany you shared anecdotes of people living in the north. I also could trot out those anecdotes of our members and supporters who are not in fear, who walk their pets, and whose children feel safe, and love wolves, and are so proud. And another thing, this is statistically proven the DNR did a study that people in rural areas don’t want wolves hunted and trapped.”

Another committee member, Senator Terry Moulton asked the following question of Tedrowe. “Do you believe the life of a wolf is just as valuable as the life of a human-being? Senator Terry Moulton.”

The following is Tedrowe’s response:

“We don’t value animals more than people. We are trying to eliminate the most egregious cruel forms of inhumane treatments for animals where ever it’s found. I think that is a mainstream value. Most everyone in this room would not want to see animals treated cruelly. Including you (senator Tiffany).”

https://vimeo.com/251477705

The following is part of Tedrowe’s testimony:

” On behalf of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and our supporters in Wisconsin, I thank you for this opportunity to testify in opposition to SB 602. This measure sanctions wolf poaching and prevents state officials from monitoring wolves until federal delisting occurs—actions that will have dire and long-lasting consequences for the species. Equally concerning, SB 602 violates Wisconsinites’ deeply held conservation values and sets a dangerous precedent for lawmakers to cherry-pick which laws get enforced.

Wolves in the Great Lakes region had just begun to recover from being wiped out completely when they lost their federal protections in 2011. In the period between 2012 and 2014, trophy hunters, trappers and houndsmen killed more than 1,500 wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan under hostile state management programs. At least 520 wolves were killed in Wisconsin alone. In just one season, Wisconsin’s wolf population plummeted 20%, with 17 packs disappearing entirely. Wolves were killed with exceptionally cruel and unsporting methods—nearly 70% were caught in barbaric steel-jawed leghold traps or neck snares, while other methods included baiting, electronic calls, and packs of hounds.

The vast majority of Wisconsinites know that wolves matter enormously, recognizing their vital role in keeping our ecosystem healthy and balanced, and taking pride in the fact that our state is one of the few places these wolves call home. The Wisconsin DNR’s own 2014 survey of nearly 9,000 residents, which was heavily weighted to rural areas, found that most people do not want wolves hunted or trapped. They want wolves conserved for future generations.

In closing, SB 602 is a bad bill – one that endangers scientific research and obstructs law enforcement, puts our ecosystems in jeopardy, and ignores the will of the majority of state citizens. I urge the committee to vote no on this proposal and ensure that protections for gray wolves are not irrationally and prematurely taken away on behalf of a tiny, vocal minority. “

End of Wisconsin State Representative of the Humane Society of the US Melissa Tedrowe’s Testimony.

There’s more to come on this misguided legislation as AB 712 was scheduled for a committee vote today.

Updated as of 1:07 PM January 17, 2018

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage passed AB 712 9-5 along party lines.

“Before the vote, Chairman Joel Kleefisch noted that many people consider wolves sacred but hard-working farmers are sacred too.  He noted that AB 712 isn’t changing the law; it’s simply placing the burden of enforcement where it belongs, with the federal government.  He further noted that there have been many other instances where states have refused to enforce federal legislation, AB 712 isn’t at all unusual (my paraphrase).

This bill deserves a larger hearing and we’re now going to send it to the Assembly, Rep. Kleefisch said (again, my paraphrase).” Stated In an email by Melissa Tedrowe Wisconsin Humane Society of the US State Representative

This is how Wisconsin hunts wolves just off the ESL.

http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

Please take action to protect Wisconsin’s wild wolf from legislation not guided by or based on good sense…

…A new bill that ties the hands of local law enforcement from assisting federal authorities in any investigation into the illegal killing of Wisconsin’s wild wolf. Wolves are a federally protected endangered species.

According to Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report (April 2016 through April 2017) vehicle collisions (39%) and illegal kills (20%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities.

Just when you think wolf education & awareness should take precedent, here comes more political rhetoric.

This time it’s in the form of a bill, 2017 Assembly Bill 712, and companion bill SB 602 which would make it illegal for law enforcement to enforce state or federal law relating to management of wolves in Wisconsin. Fringe politicians claim this bill is necessary as wolves are taking over northern Wisconsin. Rep. Adam Jarchow claims wolves are decimating deer and livestock and must be managed (Jarchow’s way of wolf management is a trophy hunt). Wisconsin is also the only state that sanctions wolf-Hounding. Either way it’s obvious that this legislation not guided by or based on good sense.

This is how Wisconsin manages an endangered species just off the ESL.

This is how Wisconsin manages an endangered species just off the endangered species list.

Let’s remember that when a politician wants something they’re not above using smoke and mirrors tactics to spin the facts in their favor. In this case, they claim wolves are eating all the deer and killing livestock at an unprecedented rate. Here’s the truth; wolves in a given year have taken 6% of the White-tailed deer population.

“The leading causes of deer mortality in the state, as Wisconsin wildlife managers have long said, are human hunters and severe winters. A 2009 DNR document ranked the deer kill in Wisconsin’s northern and central forest regions this way: 122,000 deer killed by hunters (bow and gun), about 50,000 due to winter stress (the range could vary widely), 33,000 to black bears, 16,000 to coyotes, 13,000 to motor vehicles, 13,000 to wolves and 6,000 to bobcats.” (Source)

This new bill is a rather lame attempt by a few politicians, that think the public is easily led astray by smoke and mirrors political tricks. Let’s check the facts on wolf depredations from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website:

“Thirty-seven incidents of wolf depredation to livestock and 11 incidents of wolf threat to livestock were confirmed on 31 different farms during the monitoring period (Table 6). This included 8 of 34 farms classified as chronic wolf depredation farms (24%). Livestock depredations included 33 cattle killed and 6 injured, 27 sheep killed, and 2 miniature donkeys killed and 1 injured. The number of farms affected decreased slightly from 2015-16 when 34 farms were affected (Figure 7). The number of incidents decreased 29% from 2015-16 when 52 incidents of depredation to livestock were confirmed.” WI DNR Wolf Monitoring Reports 2016-2017 Winter

“This is a far-reaching bill, this is a ploy to get their way, this is a way to drum up more publicity for their cause and they’re not telling the truth,” Tilseth said. “They’re not giving real facts.” Wisconsin Public Radio Interview November 12, 2017

If anything remember how much time, tax dollars and efforts have been put into forty years of wolf recovery in Wisconsin. We should appreciate the role wolves play on balancing Wisconsin’s ecosystems.

Politicians are not qualified to dictate wolf management policy.

Another aspect of this misguided legislation targets wolf monitoring programs. One program developed by retired wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven will be on the chopping block if this legislation is passed.

“The volunteer tracker program has been in place since 1995 and coordinates up to 150 trackers each year.” Source

“The WDNR has trained, guided, and used data from volunteer carnivore trackers. Interruption of this program would reduce citizen science opportunities in Wisconsin, and eliminate a source of wolf population data for the WDNR. Though the program was started in 1995, it took several years after establishment for trackers to gain the expertise to assure and maximize data quality. Disruption of this program may require several years for re-establishment and reduce support from volunteers.” From: Wisconsin’s Greenfire, Wolf Management Restrictions

I joined the Wisconsin’s DNR volunteer winter wolf monitoring program in the year 2000. I’ve contributed my time and money as a citizen helping to gather wolf population data for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. If this bill passes winter track surveys or work with citizen scientists on data collection could no longer be coordinated with DNR staff.

Please take action to protect Wisconsin’s wild wolf from legislation not guided by or based on good sense.

Contact the following politicians:

Rep. Mary Felzkowski: Rep.Felzkowski@legis.wisconsin.gov, 608-266-7694

Rep. Romaine Quinn: Rep.Quinn@legis.wisconsin.gov, 608-282-3675

Rep. Adam Jarchow: Rep.Jarchow@legis.wisconsin.gov 608-267-2365

Sen. Tom Tiffany: Sen.Tiffany@legis.wi.gov, 608-266-2509

Contact your Wisconsin state representatives CLICK HERE

Help Wisconsin’s wild wolf remain protected under the Endangered Species Act

Wisconsin’s wild wolf faces delisting threats from politicians & big monied special interests; oil & gas, logging, Big Ag and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. They want to hold a trophy wolf hunt. Please contact your members of congress & tell them to say NO to wolf delisting. Use this easy form democracy.io to contact your members of Congress.

Politicians seek to undo 40 years of wolf recovery in Wisconsin.  Once these politicians get their way wolves in Wisconsin become a game animal for trophy hunters.  Wisconsin is the only state that allows the barbaric practice of wolf hounding.

Watch the following video of Wisconsin’s wild wolf after you write your members of congress #KeepWolvesProtected

Featured image by John E Marriott

A wolf’s trust gained & lost

I was assigned a wolf tracking block in the year 2000 that had a new alpha female in the territory.  I set out exploring this new territory. I spent summers scouting the wolf family’s home, and winters surveying thier tracks. I first caught sight of this new alpha female as she crossed the road in front of me. She stopped in the ditch, looked straight at me, and I saw those eyes all framed in white. I named her White Eyes, and thus began the relationship between wolf tracker and wolf. 

Wolf tracks in winter, photograph taken by Rachel Tilseth, 2009.
Part of monitoring wolves during Wisconsin’s wolf recovery days was conducting wolf howl surveys during summer and fall.  Howl surveys were used to find out if a pack had puppies or not. While conducting these howl surveys that first summer I was favored with a howl from the entire wolf family. Then, one evening was startled by a lone wolf howling right next to me. On another evening I could see two wolf silhouettes in the moonlight howling back at me.

White Eyes’s family only had five family members at a time, because that was the maximum amount of wolves that this 24 square mile range could support. Every adult member was needed to hunt, and the pups were just to young to join them.  The puppies were stashed in a brushy area for safe keeping while the rest of the family was off hunting.

On a warm July summer night in 2002 I was about to find out that a wolf’s trust could be broken.  I was on a howl survey that night when White Eyes stashed her two pups, then headed off to hunt. That night on my first howl, and to my surprise & delight, White Eyes’ two pups responded back to me. 

Bird Sanctuary in Douglas county, photograph taken by Rachel Tilseth, 2014.

Right before my eyes stood two wolf pups bathed in full moonlight. One pup was light in color, and the other was dark in color. One wolf pup was obviously an alpha, and began making the defensive bark howl call. They were around three to four months old, and still very vulnerable at that age. I dared not linger, because that could bring danger to the pups. However, I did name them Salt and Pepper, then I left the area. 

The following summer I went about the business of conducting howl surveys, but something changed.  I could see the signs the family left behind, such as scat and a track or two left in mud. However, I wasn’t able to get a peep out of “White Eyes” or any of her pack members. 

But finally in desperation one night I asked my son Jacob to try a howl, and the wolves responded. He was able to get several of White Eyes’s family to respond back to his howl. 
What did that tell me about White eyes? Right then and there I realized that a wolf’s trust could be broken. I spent 2 years building a relationship with White Eyes, and in one summer lost that trust, because I got too close to her pups. All of this made me realize that I was a tolerated human observer, but not when it came to wolf pups. In other words don’t mess with a wolf family’s pups.

It took another year before the trust was regained. I was allowed to hear the family howls again.  I was able to hear them howl just before sunset, and while they were hunting at midnight. As long as I learned to steer clear of White Eyes’s pups. 

Drawing of “White Eyes” by Rachel Tilseth, that became WODCW’s logo.
This story was written in loving memory of “White Eyes” who died in 2009 after being hit by a vehicle. She leaves a lasting legacy as one of the “Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin” named to bring awareness to the plight of wolves. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was started in 2012 to draw attention to the plight of wolves in Wisconsin. Wolves were being hunted with hound dogs, trapped and killed shortly after being taken off the endangered species list 2012. 

www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com 
Featured image by Jim Brandenburg subjected to copyright