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).”
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.