Big Ag = Big Pollution = Big Problems

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CAFO Dairy cows. Photo via USDA.

Great Lakes Wolf Appeal

Last week the the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the December 2014 ruling by federal Judge Beryl Howell affirming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally and improperly designated the Great Lakes gray wolf population as a “distinct population segment” in order to push through a delisting. The appeals court in a unanimous decision ruled that the creation of the distinct population segment strictly for the purpose of delisting violated the Endangered Species Act and the proper scientific process of taking into account the former range of a species when making this decision. As expected the extremist usual anti-wolf zealots once again screamed about wolves “ravaging” livestock, pets, and grandchildren at bus stops or on their way to grandma’s house. What the zealots like state senator Toxic Taconite Tom Tiffany refuse to acknowledge is that despite the “record” wolf population in the state the “depredations” of livestock and hounds are down significantly from this point last year. At this point last year there were 54 “depredations” and this year that number has dropped to 32 despite the so-called “record” population being hyped by the media and anti-wolf zealots. If you listen to these people and their special interest masters, the gray wolf is responsible for all of the problems in northern Wisconsin and they must be “managed” to “control” their population. Through all of the fear mongering and hyperbole there is never one mention of the number of hounds and livestock that are killed by disease, poor husbandry, and in the case of hounders, thorough the legal animal fighting against bear and other wildlife that occurs in our woods daily. That number far far far exceeds 32 yet there is total silence on that. What I am seeing here is that the wolf is being used as a scapegoat by the anti-environmental politicians, their special interest masters, and the media to distract from the real environmental threats facing the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Dairy Industry: The Rules Don’t Apply to Us

Yesterday, it was reported by the Wisconsin State Journal that one of Wisconsin’s largest big agriculture lobbying groups, the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, filed a lawsuit last week to demand that they not be subject to pollution regulations until the pollution has already occurred. From the article:

A dairy industry group is suing to end Wisconsin’s requirement that large animal feedlots producing hundreds of millions of gallons of manure undergo state scrutiny before they begin operating.

If the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association prevails, the operations would no longer need state approval for their methods of storing and disposing of the manure unless it was demonstrated they had polluted lakes, streams or drinking water wells.

While the special interest puppets in the state legislature and anti-wildlife/environment lobbying groups try to convince you through the media that the gray wolf is “ravaging” the state, big ag is working behind the scenes to make sure that they can poison you and your family with waste from their ever growing factory farms in Wisconsin and not be subject to the already weak laws governing them. This is in addition to the recently signed law that allows produce growers to tap an unlimited amount of water from our depleting aquifers regardless of the impact on nearby streams, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Do you still think that the gray wolf is the biggest “threat” facing Wisconsin citizens? While the anti-wildlife zealots in the state legislature, the media, and big money special interest groups scream about the gray wolf and the 32 “depredations” this year, the legislature and big ag groups are working behind the scenes to poison and pillage the water that is supposedly part of the “public trust.” That means that the water is “owned” by each and every citizen in the state of Wisconsin. This is even enshrined in the state constitution. You know that same document that has the “right to hunt” provision that the great white “hunters” of Wisconsin love to throw in our faces when we challenged the disgusting practices of hounding, baiting, and trapping? In fact all “resources,” including wildlife, are supposed to be part of that “public trust.”

Recent events show that it is not just the wolf and other wildlife under threat from big money special interests and the politicians under their sway. Those of us in the wildlife advocacy/protectionist movement would be wise to realize this and not focus so exclusively on one issue. Our entire environment and frankly the existence of all life on this planet are under threat from a minority of very wealthy and very powerful people who want to extract all that they can without regard for their neighbors or even the future of this planet. People like myself spend a significant amount of time talking about the attacks on the gray wolf and other imperiled species while often pushing aside that every species, including humans, are under threat from these selfish special interests and those under their sway. All of us need water, air, and a productive landscape to survive and each of those precious elements are under threat and being sold off for often what amounts to a small campaign donation. The attacks on the gray wolf are just one small skirmish in the overall war against our entire environment at the behest of a wealthy few and it’s not just far right Republicans that are doing the bidding of these destructive interests.

While the appeals court wolf decision was a welcome but likely short-lived victory it showed that when used properly, our courts are the last line of defense against the extremist ideologies that seek to pillage and destroy on both sides of the political spectrum. Many so-called “Democrats,” like Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, are fully onboard with selling out the gray wolf, the Endangered Species Act, and a myriad of other bedrock environmental protections. The courts are our last line of defense and even those are under assault from the likes of Baldwin and other “Democrats.”

When will these attacks against our wildlife, land, air, and water stop? When the last wolf is killed? When the last drop of water is sucked from under the ground? When the last mineral is taken from planet? We are already losing what is left of our fragile democracy and health of our planet based on the whims of greedy special interests that seek to poison you and your family so that their profit margins can increase or their power be consolidated. When will it end? I’m afraid it will end when our planet is a lifeless sphere orbiting the sun and I am afraid that day is coming much sooner than most of us think.

Wildlife in Crisis: Wisconsin Doubles Bobcat Kill Quota and The Lack of Democracy in “Wildlife Management”

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m sure that all of you hear or read daily the time tested propaganda about how the killing cartels claim that “hunters” are “conservationists” and “fund conservation.” You also hear how non-hunters don’t “fund” anything. Not only are these claims greatly embellished, they are also patently false. Not once have I ever heard a non-hunter refuse to pay into the conservation system that land-wise we already mostly fund through our tax dollars. The only thing that killing license fees pay for, especially in Wisconsin, are the agencies that exist solely to create “hunter opportunity” despite platitudes about “managing” wildlife for ALL citizens. Paying for agencies that farm non-native wildlife to be killed is not “conservation” and frankly it’s completely disingenuous to claim otherwise.

The most recent example of fake “conservation” is how the Wisconsin DNR has decided to DOUBLE the kill quota of the state’s bobcat population. Once again the DNR has relied on the selfish wants and bloodlust of the killing cartels and the general public has had ZERO say in this decision. At last estimate there were believed to be around 2300 bobcats in Wisconsin. This year hounders and trappers will be able to kill off at least one-third of the estimated population. Is it because bobcats are threatening grandchildren at bus stops like the anti-wolf zealots claim wolves are? Is it because bobcats are “eating all the deer” as the anti-wolf zealots falsely claim wolves are doing? Of course not. It’s so the skins of these animals can be sold to “fur buyers” and shipped to the wildlife black holes like China and Russia. In other words it’s very likely that these bobcat skins will end up in China or Russia and  made into “luxury” vanity clothing that often sells for between $50,000 and $100,000.

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Yes this sick blood trade still exists in Wisconsin and across the nation with a vast number of animal skins ending up in China or Russia. Notice how the DNR refers to trappers as “fur harvesters” as if the hounded, bludgeoned, drowned, crushed, or poisoned animal grew out of the ground like corn or soybeans.

From a news article about the doubling of the bobcat killing quota:

Bobcat population estimate research is led by Dr. Nathan Roberts, DNR furbearer research scientist.

“DNR works closely with trappers and hunters to learn more about this elusive, but common, species – together, we are working to refine our understanding of Wisconsin’s bobcat population and are finding that Wisconsin’s bobcat population is healthy and robust enough to provide additional harvest opportunities,” Roberts said. “The information we gather from ongoing research efforts will be used to update population models and continue to guide harvest quotas in the future.”

Notice what is missing from this quote? Not one mention of non-killing groups or persons being involved in the decision. Not one mention of scientists or biologists from outside of the DNR having any input into this decision. None of this comes as a surprise. The Wisconsin DNR, like many “fish and game” agencies in the United States are the very antithesis of democracy and often their statutory obligations to work for ALL citizens. Instead of asking the 87 percent of Wisconsin citizens who don’t recreationally kill wildlife if they are okay with one-third of the estimated bobcat population to be trapped, hounded, and killed all in the span of three months, the DNR just took the word of the trappers and hounders who seek to kill and profit off of the dead cats. Of course they don’t ask us or allow is to participate in these decisions because despite statutory obligations and wildlife being in the “public trust,” they only work for their “customers” and those whose killing license fees pay for the DNR’s operations. Every time non-recreational killing citizens have tried to change this funding mechanism we have been immediately blocked or our proposals have been shot down. Why is that? It’s because if we are allowed to help fund wildlife “management” in this state we would be obligated to have a “seat at the table” for “management” decisions. There is no way that the politically powerful killing special interests like the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin Trappers Association, various deer hunting groups, and the deceptively named hunter/trapper/hounder front group the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation would allow a non-killing voice to have any say in how wildlife is “managed” here in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

A recent study produced some very interesting poll results about who the real conservationists are in the United States. Despite the killing cartels staking claim to being “conservationists” this study by three very well regarded wildlife/environmental scientists casts major doubt on that claim shows who the real conservationists likely are.

The lack of responsiveness by wildlife agencies to animal welfare interests is not surprising. Wildlife professionals often view conservation and animal rights as antagonistic (Schmidt 1990, Muth and Jamison 2000). The Wildlife Society’s standing position statement, Animal Rights Philosophy and Wildlife Conservation, describes the conflict between animal rights and wildlife conservation as “profound.”

Yet, that antagonistic view does not seem to be shared by the general public — or even by most self-identified conservationists, as the results of our recent survey show. We polled more than 1,200 adults via KnowledgePanel, a representative online panel of U.S. residents recruited to take part in survey research. We asked them to indicate the extent to which they identified as hunters, conservationists and animal rights advocates. Although a plurality (37 percent) self-identified as both conservationists and animal rights advocates, far fewer (27 percent) self-identified as both conservationists and hunters. Those identifying as conservationists were more likely to identify as animal rights advocates (r = 0.52) than as hunters (r = 0.26).

Animal Rights and Conservation: Conflicting or Compatible? (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318275505_Animal_Rights_and_Conservation_Conflicting_or_Compatible [accessed Jul 31, 2017].

While I personally do not identify as an “animal rights advocate” and prefer to be considered an “animal protectionist/environmental preservationist” this study outlines what many of us in this movement have known all along. This is that killing is NOT conservation and many who participate in modern “hunting,” trapping, and hounding are the antithesis of what “conservation” is supposed to be. The very idea that recreational killing somehow fosters a spirit of “conservation” and protecting “sustainable” wildlife populations is absurd. To me that is like saying that promiscuous sex promotes abstinence. The same absurdity is at play with how the word “conservation” has been co-opted and redefined by the killing special interests and the politicians and agencies under their thumb. Agencies like the Wisconsin DNR have turned our lands into giant “game farms” for favored species and only seek to further artificially inflate those populations to appease Wisconsin’s never satisfied “sportsmen” no matter the impact on the ecosystem and the future survival of individual species. Killing off over one-third of a wildlife population in one “season” flies directly in the face of what the word “conserve” means. It is also absurd that living and breathing creatures are labeled as a “resource” and that those killing them are allowed to profit off of OUR PUBLIC “resources.” Enough is enough.

Bringing Democracy to Wildlife Management

It’s time to bring democracy to how wildlife is “managed” in Wisconsin and around the nation. These agencies, state legislatures, and the boards overseeing them are clearly discriminating against non-killing individuals and groups that have an interest in how wildlife is “managed” in this state. If you are in or near Madison and want to have a conversation about how we can bring democracy to openly undemocratic institutions like the Wisconsin DNR, please consider attending this FREE event on Thursday August 3rd in Madison.

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This is a discussion that needs to be had. Please consider attending and add your voice to the rising call for democracy in how wildlife is “managed.”

Hounder Free For All: Wisconsin’s Wildlife Hell Is Worse Than We Thought

USFWS Photo of black bear.

For decades the State of Wisconsin has been waging a war on our native wildlife and using hounds as four legged weapons. Even though the use of hounds against wildlife, particularly bears, has only been legal for a few decades it somehow has been warped into being considered “heritage” and “tradition” by the Wisconsin DNR and stake killing groups. For a signifiant portion of each year our public lands, particularly our federally owned national forests, are over run with a violent subset of the “hunting” community and thousands of bloodthirsty hounds. This same violent subset of the “hunting” community is also responsible for dumping at least 4.6 MILLION GALLONS of stale junk food, used cooking grease/oil, and toxic blocks of chocolate as “bait” for six months of each year beginning in April and used to condition bear and other wildlife to human food sources. In fact a recent study showed that an average bear receives 40 percent of their yearly food sources from this “bait.” Despite this the Wisconsin DNR refuses to make any changes to the duration of the baiting “season” or what type of bait is allowed.

“The agency is not likely to recommend changes to bear hunting tactics. It’s also not known at this point how much appetite the public has for change.”

I would say that if “the public” had any idea about what is allowed to really allowed you can bet that there is quite the “appetite” for change.

That isn’t even the most concerning thing that we discovered recently. This is posted in the Wisconsin DNR’s 2017 Bear Hunting Regulations:

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“Bear shooting/ dog training hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 20 minutes after sunset.”

After reporting several instances of Wisconsin hounders chasing and treeing bears late at night and in the early morning hours we were told by a Wisconsin DNR Warden today that no matter what the pamphlet states, hounders are allowed to go after bears 24/7 with no restrictions from July 1st until the killing season begins in September despite it being illegal to “hunt” or hound bears at night during the killing season. So why can hounders “train” their dogs to chase and attack bears at night during the “training season” despite those not being allowed during the killing seasons? Isn’t “training” supposed to “train” the dogs to do what they are allowed to do during the killing season meaning during the day? We also raised concerns about social media posts showing not only night hounding but also hounders chasing and treeing sows with cubs despite this being illegal during the killing season. While it is allegedly illegal during the killing season to kill a sow with cubs hounders are allowed to chase both mercilessly during “hound training” season once again 24/7 with no restrictions. Once again we were told that the “rules and regulations” are not “correct” despite being posted online and in physical form for years. This reads quite clearly if you ask me. Is the DNR giving false information in their “rules and regulations” or are their wardens refusing to enforce hounder violations?

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Black bear sows and their small cubs, like these, are allowed to be chased by hounds 24/7 during the hound “training” season in Wisconsin. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In other words the abomination known as “hound training” season is a legal free for all where hounders can let their dogs chase, fight, harass, and otherwise rampage though our woods for over two months with ZERO permit requirement or ZERO restrictions other than they allegedly cannot allow their hounds to kill a wild animal “without DNR permission.” You read that right. Animal/dog fighting is perfectly legal in Wisconsin and it is all written into law or there are no laws in place forbidding it. The state considers all of this to be “heritage” and “conservation.”

We have a real problem here in Wisconsin. Despite all of the blather from bought and paid for elected officials and paid “hunting” group lobbyists about this sick form of “recreation” being “heritage,” “conservation,” and “fair chase” it is none of those things. If these people carried out in a city to domestic animals what they are allowed to do to wild animals if would instantly be condemned as dog fighting, they would brought up on charges, and made pariahs in the media. Because this is happening in our woods to wild animals and they hide under the banner of “heritage” and being “sportsmen,” this is protected under law and lauded as “heritage” and “conservation” by disingenuous politicians and the special interests that own them. What exactly is the difference between a dog fighting ring in an urban area and the legal animal fighting that is allowed in our forests and rural areas? On top of that if a wolf allegedly kills one of these hounds the hounder gets paid $2500 for each dead hound by the state. What is wrong with this picture?

What we have here is a sadistic free for all for legal animal fighters from across the nation and a supplemental feeding free for all to artificially inflate the bear population and condition them to human food. No permit is required and the “regulations” that are posted apparently aren’t really “regulations” at all according to the DNR warden that we spoke with today. Here are a few questions to ponder:

What the hell is going on in this state and why aren’t more people aware that this is occurring?

Are the majority of state citizens really okay with these practices and the lack of regulation and enforcement?

How do we fight back and make our fellow citizens aware of what a small but violent subset of “hunters” are allowed to get away with?

Do so-called “ethical” hunters support or condone this behavior?

Why do the hounders and their paid lobbyists have so much sway and power in this state?

Why are clearly written rules and regulations NOT enforced or claimed by those tasked with enforcing them to not be correct?

These are just some questions that need to be answered in this state about why these sick practices are protected and allowed to continue. The more that we learn the more horrifying that it becomes. Is this what we really are all about Wisconsin? A recent letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal by Bill Stokes of Mazomaine summed this up best:

Wisconsin citizens need to put down their brats and beer long enough to do away with this outrage. Call, write, march, yell and scream. Show that Wisconsin decency is above manipulation by a small group of insensitive, special-interest hounders.

We could not have said it better ourselves.

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Wisconsin’s Right to Hunt Act

This is HUGE and only the beginning. See you in court Adam Jarchow, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

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Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 2.14.32 PM 7/15/17: Wisconsin bear hunter citing Right to Hunt Act as evidence that Wolf Patrol has no right to film his activities on public lands.

Animal Legal Defense Fund Lawsuit Takes Wisconsin to Court for Violating First Amendment

Contact:
Natalia Lima, 201-679-7088, nlima@aldf.org

MADISON, Wis. – Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court aiming to strike down a recently amended Wisconsin statute which bans photographing, videotaping, approaching or even “maintaining a visual or physical proximity” to a hunter. The organization argues the law unconstitutionally restricts free speech and violates the First Amendment.

Today’s lawsuit claims the law’s restrictions violate the First Amendment – the same constitutional rights two federal judges ruled had been violated by Idaho’s and Utah’s Ag-Gag statutes. Just like these Ag-Gag laws, the Wisconsin statute at issue in today’s lawsuit is unconstitutional for suppressing speech critical of animal exploitation.

“The First Amendment guarantees…

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Senator Tammy Baldwin: Anti-Wolf and Pro-Lead Poisoning Bill Supporter

My Approved Portraits

Anti-wolf Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. Photo via Wikipedia.

I am sure that I am not the only person who has been feeling a foreboding sense of doom and despair for what the future holds for wildlife in Wisconsin and beyond. The mere existence of wildlife today is almost exclusively for the killing opportunities that they provide with little to no credence given to the entire ecosystem. State like Wisconsin only view wildlife as a “resource” to be “harvested” for “hunter opportunity.” Those of us who desire for wildlife to have safe havens and unmolested existence from human interference have no say at any level of government in Wisconsin and beyond. State and federal “fish and wildlife” agencies have decided that wildlife is only allowed to exist as a “resource” to appease the bloodthirsty killing cartels and their existence is often only allowed based on what kind of “trophy” they can provide recreational killers. Now we can once again add congressional “Democrats” to the list of those seeking to wage war against our wildlife.

There was a time when those of us in the wildlife advocacy and environmental movements thought that we had allies in the Democratic Party. Oh how those times have changed. Starting with the infamous 2011 “budget rider” supported by President Obama and a significant number of congressional Democrats that forced a delisting of the gray wolf in the wildlife hostile northern Rockies states, the Democratic Party showed that bedrock environmental laws and imperiled species were no longer off limits for “political gain.” Taking this one step farther so-called “Democrats” like Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Cardin and the DINO (Democrat in Name Only) of all DINO’s, Colin Peterson of MN, have been waging an all out legislative war on wolves, the Endangered Species Act, and a myriad of other laws designed to protect wildlife and wild habitat. Their latest assault on wolves and wildlife comes in the form of a deceptively named bill called The Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife Act. By “hunting heritage” they mean further weakening the Wilderness Act by opening more areas to recreational killing and to make recreational killing a priority on federal land. That also means allowing for easier “hunter access” which will inevitably lead to building roads and other destructive practices on sensitive wild lands all so the Elmer Fudd’s of the nation don’t actually have to walk to kill their “trophy.” While that is disturbing enough what the bill contains regarding wildlife is frankly horrifying and shows what the modern Democratic Party has become. The bill, of course, forces a congressional delisting of wolves in the Great Lakes and blocks American citizens from exercising our right to challenge our government in court. If that isn’t enough the bill next blocks any and all federal regulation of lead fishing equipment despite the countless number of wildlife that are poisoned by these implements each and every day, week, and year. Nice to see that Democrats are now pro-lead poisoning. I wonder how the people of Flint Michigan will feel about that? Next the bill gives cover to bird poaching farmers that illegally place bait to kill said birds. Yes you read that right. The bill then requires shooting ranges to be built or expanded on the taxpayer dime on public land. In other words this bill is anti-wolf, anti-Endangered Species Act, pro-poaching, pro-lead poisoning, and anti-Wilderness Act. How very “progressive” of “Democrats” to support a bill so vile.

Where exactly does this bill “HELP” wildlife? By gutting the ESA? No. By keeping toxic lead from birds, fish, and other wildlife? No. By weakening the Wilderness Act? No. By protecting big ag poachers? No. So where exactly is wildlife going to be “helped?” The answer is nowhere at all. The bill “reauthorizes” a couple of symbolic “acts” without appropriating any money for their funding. What this bill is in reality is just another in the long line of attacks on the Endangered Species Act and our other bedrock environmental laws in the hopes that the anti-wolf and far right rural voters of states like Wisconsin will vote for the senators, like Baldwin, who are supporting it. Quite telling is how there is ZERO mention of this bill on Baldwin’s Facebook page and the release on her website, while bragging about forcing a delisting of wolves and blocking judicial review, does not mention one word about the pro-lead poisoning elements of this sick bill. She sure seems proud of helping Wisconsin to once again eradicate wolves and block the rights of citizens to challenge this in court.

Senator Baldwin should be ashamed of herself to support such an attack on endangered species and our environment. It apparently makes zero difference to her that this bill allows hostile states like Wisconsin to practice legal dog fighting against wolves 24/7/365 and allows the state to kill off the population to a token number or potentially eradication at the behest of the politically powerful anti-wolf groups like the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. It also apparently makes little difference to her that more wildlife will suffer excruciating deaths from lead poisoning because for some inexplicable reason modern fishermen are too lazy or arrogant to stop using lead when other alternatives exist. How “progressive” of her. Baldwin’s support of this bill should infuriate anyone that supports wildlife, wild lands, and protecting species from toxic substances.

Frankly I am utterly disgusted at Baldwin and this only reaffirms my decision not to vote for her in 2018. While I won’t vote for a GOPer I will also not vote for Baldwin. She has made it quite clear that she would rather sell out individual species and environmental protections to pander to the anti-wolf, anti-environmental, big ag, and killing cartel crowds. This is NOT someone that deserves my vote or the vote of any wildlife advocate. But that is your decision. Baldwin may gain the vote of an anti-wolf farmer or two but she has lost mine and that of several other wildlife advocates. I wonder if it will be worth the trade off? Remember this the next time that someone tries to call Senator Baldwin a “progressive.” How is allowing states to wipe out a species again and promoting lead poisoning “progressive” in any way, shape, or form? Sounds rather regressive to me and like something that would come from the current party in power not from what used to be the Democratic Party.

Please contact Senator Baldwin’s office to let her know how you feel regarding her support for this vile anti-wildlife bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5653

MADISON
30 West Mifflin Street, Suite 700
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 264-5338

Constituents can also email her here:

https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/feedback

July 1st: The Season of Hell Begins for Wisconsin Wildlife

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Black bear. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Tomorrow, July 1st,  marks the beginning of the legal animal fighting free for all known as the bear hound “training season.” Thousands of hounds and hounders will descend on our public lands from all over the country with their trucks, bait, and thousands of GPS collared hounds to torment any wildlife that gets in their way. No permit is required for any of this and there is essentially ZERO oversight. Hounds are allowed to run bears for hours on end and will inevitably get into bloody fights with wolves defending their young at rendezvous sites. For each hound killed by a wolf the hounder will receive a $2500 check from the DNR for their “loss” despite a huge number being repeat claimants running hounds in known wolf “caution areas.”

Hounding itself is a disgusting and deplorable form of legal animal fighting/harassment that is somehow not only legal but encouraged by the State of Wisconsin. Bears, wolves, and the attacking hounds will be fighting for their lives for the next four months during hound “training” and bear killing season. For the last few months and for a total of SIX MONTHS each year an estimated 4.6 MILLION GALLONS plus of stale junk food, grease, and other forms of “bait” are used to condition Wisconsin’s 30,000 bears to human food. This bait not only conditions the bears to human foods but it also provides an estimated 40 percent of an average bear’s diet in northern Wisconsin (See study linked below). This likely leads to significantly larger litters and rapidly expanding the bear population to numbers that the habitat cannot likely sustain for the long term. Wisconsin has essentially allowed the county, state, and national forests of the north to become giant bear “game farms” where pretty much anything goes. No permits are required to dump unlimited amounts of bait and no permit is required to run unlimited numbers of unleashed hounds. This is “conservation?”

The Wisconsin DNR and groups like the politically connected Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association will try to convince you that what they are doing is “conservation,” “heritage,” and “ethical.” It is none of these. The true gravity of what occurs in the northern forests each and every day would shock and horrify most citizens if they actually knew what happens. Hounds fight and die each and every day with bears, wolves, and whatever wild animal gets in their way. Some hounders will take to social media with pictures and videos showing bloody and wounded dogs while bragging about how they self treat them and refuse to go to veterinarians for proper care for their “family members.” Then when a wolf kills a hound they run to the first reporter that they see talking about how the hound that they kept chained up outside 24/7/365 next to a hollowed out 55 gallon drum as “shelter” was a dear “family member” and how “devastated” they are. Following that they will take to their social media groups and make threats to poach, “kill ’em all,” and otherwise make calls to eradicate wolves because their “great grand daddies killed them for a reason.” In their “secret” groups they will brag about all of their “disposable” dogs that they refer to as “culls” and “shit-eaters.” Culls because once they no longer serve a purpose they are killed and “shit-eaters” because they are only fed scraps and poor quality food just enough to keep them alive to serve their “purpose.” How is this any different than using so-called “bait dogs” to train killer dogs in dog fighting rings? Hint. It isn’t but because it is good old boy rural whites doing it

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This is how many of the “family members” of bear hounders are kept. Photo of bear hound shown under Fair Use for Educational Purposes. 

How is any of this behavior acceptable in 2017? Why does society allow this seedy underbelly of the hunting “community” to take over our public lands for a significant portion of the year to practice their sick “sport?” Expect to hear multiple stories in the coming days and weeks of hounders crying about losing their “family members” like the dog above while they keep raking in those nice fat $2500 taxpayer funded checks. Those will be followed by calls from disingenuous politicians and anti-wolf zealots for a return to “state management” for the wolf population. As we all know “state management” is code for near eradication and the 24/7/365 wolf hounding that comes along with it. This should enrage each and every citizen in the state of Wisconsin that pays taxes and has any semblance of decency. If there are any “ethical hunters” left they should also be enraged that the hounders have taken over as being the “voice” of hunters in Wisconsin and are giving a black eye to your community as seen across the country and world. The hounders and anti-wolf zealots love to refer to people like myself as being “antis.” If anything they are the one who are “anti-hunting” because what they participate in sure isn’t “hunting.” Is it “hunting” to feed wild animals millions of gallons of junk food for over six months? Is it “hunting” to send packs of bloodthirsty hounds to rampage through the forests on our public lands to tree, attack, and kill our wildlife? Who are the real “anti-hunters” in this state?

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Another cherished “family member” and the conditions so many are kept in. Photo used via Fair Use for Educational Purposes.

Bear Baiting Study 2016

Guest Blog: A Tale of Compassionate Transition and Unconditional Love

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The following post was written by a personal friend, Jim McFarlane, about how he came to see animals as more than food and as living, feeling, and integral parts of our lives. He lost a dear member of his family this week and each and every one of us that has ever loved or been loved by a dog will understand this. Dogs are our family and we are a part of theirs. I am not so sure we humans deserve what our canine companions give us considering how so many are horrifically treated both domestic and wild. 

A week or so ago, my friend asked me if I would consider writing a guest entry for his blog, with the topic being basically how I had been a life-long carnivore for almost 47 years but as of last December (2016), I finally made the commitment to transition to a meatless lifestyle. I agreed to write this and thanked him for the opportunity to do so, but admittedly, I was having difficulty getting started. For the last six months or so, I’d already fielded the usual questions about why I had “suddenly” become a vegetarian, as if anyone suddenly wakes up one day with such an epiphany, and so I didn’t necessarily want to waste my opportunity to tell my story here rehashing the same old fodder.

In fact, I would bet that my general story is similar to that of most people. Although I believe that I will eventually realize a general improvement in my overall health and wellbeing, my decision was more of an ethical decision than health-related. That’s not to say that I feel morally superior to my carnivorous brethren, or anyone else, for that matter, I can promise you that; well, people who are not trophy hunters or bull fighters, that is. Regardless, it has been my observation that most of us Veggies gradually transition from carnivorous to meatless lifestyles after finally allowing the scales to fall from our eyes, being open-minded enough to take in the shocking information that is readily available to us, and comprehending what horrors, tortures and abject cruelty are inflicted on the animal population on a daily basis, all in the name of full bellies and entertainment.

After reading articles and watching documentaries about how our various clothing and cosmetic products, such as lipsticks, perfumes, fur coats and fuzzy boots are made, all in the name of vanity; how our factory farm systems treat our cattle, poultry, and porcine friends, all in the name of (mostly overly) full tummies; and the unspeakable behavior displayed by humans as we utilize animals as mechanisms for our fleeting concepts of amusement, such as canned game farm “hunts,” bull “fights,” trophy hunts, and organized greyhound racing, to name a few, the idea of railing against such abhorrent activities on paper while continuing to eat meat seemed…well, disingenuous, to say the least. So, after “taking the plunge,” as it were, last year and going completely meatless, it has been surprisingly easy to stay “on the wagon,” and I’m happy I did it and hope many others will consider doing so as well.

All that was well and good, of course, and I’m sure most people who read this blog are sympathetic and well aware of, and probably even more knowledgeable about, such animal welfare issues, and would react affirmatively to any reiteration of such visceral and shameful incidents. However, my friend who owns this blog informs us of just such information on a regular basis, and does so better than I ever could. So, I still struggled with how I could properly describe my feelings on the importance of animal welfare. That is, until something occurred this weekend which slammed into me at 100mph. I hope my story won’t be too long and that you will stick with it until the end, as it is important to me and I would appreciate it very much if you did.

In 2008, we brought a German Shepherd/(Beagle? Retriever? Who knows?)-mix puppy into our family. His given name was Boogie Boy, he was about 6-8 weeks old, and he was a rescue dog. Of course, the very first thing we did when we were out of earshot of the nice lady who rescued him from a kill-shelter in Indiana was to promptly rename him JJ, after the then-Milwaukee Brewers shortstop JJ Hardy. JJ was as cute a puppy as you could imagine, with big floppy ears and that classic German Shepherd tan/black coloring. As he grew during the following year, he was so full of energy and became very aggressive, biting and generally not being very nice to our daughter, damaging our property, etc, to the point that I feared we may have to give JJ to a different family. I hated that idea with a passion because our daughter loved JJ so much; even though he was aggressive toward her, she is just that kind of wonderful, loving, kind soul. It seemed like he was just being playful, but it was too rough for humans, and if he couldn’t assimilate into our family and realize that we couldn’t play with him like other animals could, that would have to be the necessary outcome. After we did some research on the matter, we came to believe that the final thing that could possibly help us was obtaining another dog to serve as a companion to JJ and hopefully, that would save his spot in our family.

In 2009, almost exactly a year after finding JJ, we found a Dodge County animal shelter listing for an approximately 1.5-2yr-old black and white female German Shepherd, who was rescued after being found roaming the streets of Milwaukee for an unknown period of time. Her backstory wasn’t really known by the staff at the Dodge County shelter—even her name wasn’t known; they said they thought she looked like a “Sophia”—but it was clear she was extremely anxious, nervous, untrusting, etc. She would bark her fool head off whenever anyone even came close to her kennel in the shelter, and it seemed as though she definitely mistrusted males in general. It didn’t seem promising at first, but she was so beautiful, and of course our daughter was smitten with her (as was I, if I’m being honest), so we decided to at least meet with her at the shelter and say we tried.

The shelter’s policy is such that you complete an adoption questionnaire/application, and then meet with an adoption specialist who reviews your app and works with you to find the right animal for your individual situation. After that is squared away and both the family as well as the adoption advocate agree upon an appropriate animal to work with as well as the ground rules of adoption, the family and animal can meet a few times and get acquainted to see if they are a good match. For the first meeting, the prospective new family are to wait in a room and the dog is cautiously brought in to meet them and the shelter employee stands by, ready to remove the animal if the meeting proved overly upsetting to either party, or even potentially dangerous.

Well, nothing could have been further from the truth in our case—“Sophie,” as we eventually decided to call her, strutted into the room, sniffed us all, turned around once or twice, and plopped down on the floor in front of our daughter, comfortably panting/smiling and crossing her paws daintily in front of her as many large breed female dogs often do when they are obviously fully content in their surroundings and with the company they are currently keeping. And yes, even though she would spend the rest of her life showing everyone in our family more love than any of us could ever imagine or probably deserved, for whatever reason, Sophie took to me in particular. That, of course, makes the end of this story all the sadder for me personally, but let’s press on—it’s so worth it.

After ten minutes or so of Sophie allowing us all to hug her and pet her and basically fall in love with her (as if that took even ten minutes), the shelter staff, as well as our family, were confident that Sophie would bond with us humans and assimilate into our family quite nicely, and unless we wanted more time with her, everyone agreed that this single meeting was sufficient proof of that. Therefore, the second hurdle to Sophie finally being placed into her forever home had been accomplished.

Now, the final obstacle is whether or not the prospective animal candidate can get along with any other animals in the family’s home; in our case, that meant the aforementioned infamously difficult, but loveable-in-his-own-way, JJ. It was the shelter’s policy that the adoption advocate observe actual in-person interactions between the animals, so there was no avoiding bring JJ to meet Sophie before we could bring Sophie home with us. Yikes! Well, that was the whole reason for us searching for a second dog in the first place, and since this was a firm shelter policy, there was no avoiding it, so we brought JJ to the shelter for the arranged meeting. Fingers crossed…

Sophie saw JJ for the first time and charged up to him, and JJ…well, Mr. Big Shot froze in place, just as nervous and curious (and frightened?) as we were to see how this meeting with this twice-his-size dog was going to go. Again, in retrospect, it’s now laughable how worried we were then—a couple of chest bumps, a butt sniff or two later, and they were chasing one another around the large, grassy front yard of the shelter, lovingly yipping and yapping together all the way. With that final hurdle cleared, Sophie found her forever home, and I met the best friend I have ever known (my wife and daughter both being the human equals to this relationship, of course).

Did JJ’s behavior improve after Sophie finally arrived at our house to stay? Did it ever! It was like a switch was flipped inside of JJ—as soon as Sophie took him under her wing and became not only his playmate, of sufficient size and weight to easily withstand his aggressive onslaughts, but also as his big sister, JJ’s demeanor toward humans (and other animals, truth to tell) instantaneously changed, transforming him into the docile, loving and adorable creature that we all knew lurked just beneath the surface. Sophie, for her part, easily and readily assumed the duties of loving family protector, conversational centerpiece, neighborhood ambassador, and the best buddy and companion I could have ever asked for.

As much as JJ has remained aloof but somewhat begrudgingly became loving of our daughter, Sophie immediately adopted her as if she was her own, loving her with all of her considerable heart and soul and being her best buddy, too. If there was ever such a thing as an instant bond between a human and another living creature, I experienced that with Sophie—I’m not sure who was as excited for me to come home from work and reuniting, Sophie or me. But that’s how she was with everyone she met and trusted; they couldn’t help but fall in love with her instantly, and if you fell into her circle of trust, she loved you unconditionally, forever. That’s how it was for us, blissfully living our near-perfect lives together for the next 8 years.

Fast forward to the very early morning hours of June 25, 2017, in the Veterinary Emergency Service Center in Madison, WI. We had to bring Sophie in for examination because she was acting so un-Sophie like—listless, no strength to walk, no sparkle in her eyes, etc. It was so strange because the day before, she was acting perfectly normal—energetic, loving us up/licking us half to death, barking at the UPS truck and driver and anyone else who dared get to close to our yard, playing with JJ, etc. The doctor on duty gave her a short examination, and we were informed that Sophie had been harboring a large growth on her spleen that had basically exploded and she was essentially beyond any meaningful help at that point. So, after spending more than an hour holding her in my arms, and crying more tears in that time (and I have had to stop more than a few times during the writing of this to dry my eyes) than I ever believed I could have produced in a lifetime, she gave me a final weak lick on my nose and laid her head on my shoulder, and we finally made the decision to let Sophie go and be at peace.

Now, as I write this and look down at JJ laying here next to me, breaking my heart with every sad hoot and drooping-head glance that tells me that he finally comprehends that his sister and best friend isn’t coming home to him, I know that he, like me, wonders how life is going to be from now on, and I don’t really know how to answer him, except to say that in time, it will; it always does, regardless of how hard it can be sometimes. I certainly don’t mean to imply that JJ is any less important in my life than Sophie, but everyone in the family knows that JJ is “mama’s boy,” and as such, has bonded to my wife as much as Sophie bonded with me, my daughter and my wife. I wonder if JJ and will grow even closer now to both me and our daughter in Sophie’s absence? I think so.

I relate this intimate story not to garner any sympathy or tug at your heart-strings, but in order to relate to anyone who will listen that Sophie was as sentient a creature as has ever existed; as warm, loving, caring, generous and giving a being as any human I’ve ever known. I have never felt such profound, utter and complete sadness as I am currently experiencing, and I do not recall ever feeling such pain and sense of loss. I know that eventually the emptiness in our hearts caused by the loss of a loved one is almost always replaced with nothing but happy and loving memories, and loss is an inevitable part of life, but her passing has impacted me as intensely as any human’s could. If that is the case, and I promise you with all my heart that it is, doesn’t she, and others like her, deserve the same expectation of treatment with kindness and respect, including any legal protections as needed, as any human does? After seeing the calm look of love, comfort and contentment in Sophie’s eyes, which could only be due to her comprehension of being in the presence of her loved ones in her last moments before she closed them forever, I will never be convinced to the contrary.

I know not everyone agrees with the humanization of animals, and so maybe would not agree with my characterization of my relationship with Sophie, but no matter; interchange her in my story with one of your own human loved ones. Now, imagine eating his or her flesh. Again, I certainly am not judging anyone for their decision to eat meat (so long as it is humanely and responsibly sourced), and I’m really not trying to be incendiary, but as I said goodbye to my best friend of 10 years, my decision to transition to a meatless lifestyle was reaffirmed and slammed home to me in an instant, and I don’t regret a thing, regarding neither my dietary decisions nor all of my time spent with Sophie.

Dogs have convinced me over my past 47 years that they, and all similar beings as they, possess highly developed, if not always overtly recognizable by we stupid humans, cognitive reasoning skills, conscious and educated thoughts, deep-seeded memories, feelings, and yes, certainly viable and measurable emotions that, while maybe not as sophisticated or definable, are still just as valid and viable as that of any human I have ever met. So then, if I was able to have formed such a fiercely loyal and lasting bond with such a being as Sophie, a bond which, I can assure you kind readers, will never dissipate with time, shouldn’t she and others like her expect and enjoy the same level of respect and humane treatment at the hands of humans as other humans do, even if it must be enforced by the pens of our legislators? If we are to agree on that concept, then shouldn’t the same be said for wild animals as well as their more domesticated kin? How do we know that wolves, coyotes, fox, bobcats, bears, deer, and so forth do not possess the same level of cognition that their more domesticated brethren?

After experiencing the copious research studies filmed, posted and published by not only members of well-respected universities and research institutions worldwide, but also from the anecdotal observations from simple layman such as me providing ample evidence of animals living sentient lives with sophisticated and developed interpersonal relationships, both with their mates as well as offspring, I personally find it difficult to believe otherwise. Regardless of all of my own personal observations and experiences with animals that may or may not influence opinions, I am certain of a few things, and I implore everyone to hear me, please.

I am certain that the maltreatment of animals by humans, whether via neglect or intentional harm, only weakens us as a species, making us less sensitive to the pain and suffering of all living creatures other than ourselves, including humans, and more and more inconsiderate to life itself, really. As we continue to commit such intentional atrocities against animals of all shapes and sizes, I believe we diminish our own species immeasurably; hopefully, not irreparably, but considering much of the news reports I’ve read in the past few years, who knows?

I am certain that vegetarians will never convert all carnivores, at least not in my lifetime, but hopefully we will grab a few more of you in the coming years.

I am certain that we will not shame or guilt most trophy hunters into ceasing and desisting their awful and disgusting activities, but maybe we can convince a few others who share the concept of basic common decency to try to help us do so. Even one or two of them is better than none.

I am certain we will never eradicate “legitimate” (non-trophy seeking) hunting altogether, but maybe we can convince its practitioners to observe responsible and humane tactics if they insist on wanting to kill other living things, until such time as they look into one too many eyes and watch precious life drain away, and hopefully they consider converting to a meatless diet as well.

Maybe all of this will happen some day, and maybe none of it will; I can only that hope some of it will. May you all be so fortunate as to have even one Sophie in your entire lifetime. If so, maybe some of my wishes will come true.

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Jim McFarlane is a Marine, two decade long law enforcement officer, vegetarian, and resides in Fall River, Wisconsin.