Last year hounders, trappers, and hunters killed 257 wolves during Wisconsin’s second wolf killing season. This number was six above the quota of 251 set by the DNR and their “Wolf Advisory Committee.” Yesterday, the hunter/trapper/hounder dominated committee set their quota recommendation for the 2014 wolf kill season. This year they want to kill 156 wolves. 101 less than the total number “legally” killed last year.
This year the winter population survey showed that the Wisconsin wolf population plummeted by 19 percent from same time last year. This massive population drop was in line with the Wisconsin DNR’s stated goal of bringing the population closer to the archaic number of “350” set in the 1999 state wolf management plan and championed by anti-wolf lobbying groups across the state.
The committee that sets the annual wolf kill quota recommendation, the Wolf Advisory Committee, is stacked with some of the most vocal anti-wolf factions in the state.
“The Wolf Advisory Committee consists of DNR biologists and wildlife managers, several federal agency representatives, a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and several stakeholder groups, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Trappers Association, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association and the Timber Wolf Alliance.”
By “stakeholder groups” the DNR means the very lobbying groups that are vocally anti-wolf and one in particular, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, wrote the legislation that allows the yearly slaughter of wolves. At the April 29, 2014 Wolf Advisory Committee meeting it was even suggested by several committee members that the reimbursements for hounders, whose dogs are allegedly killed by wolves, be discontinued. According to multiple witnesses the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association representative on the committee, Al Lobner, verbally lashed out at the committee stating that if hounder reimbursements were taken away there would be a wolf “bloodbath in the woods.” Most took this as a threat from Lobner that the bear hounders his group represents would brazenly engage in poaching. While the affinity of wolf haters to poach comes as no surprise the audacity of the comments took many by surprise. This compounds the concerns from people like hunter/ wolf tracker, Steve Meurett who recently stated in an article:
Poaching and worse, killing animals and leaving them to rot is especially offensive. It serves only the anti-hunting establishment and surely doesn’t improve relations with the non-hunting public. Perhaps even worse in these county forest killings was the fact that little effort was taken to hide the crime. There wasn’t the usual attitude (SSS -shoot, shovel and shut up), but rather some of the carcasses were recovered by game wardens. It seemed almost a slap in the face toward law enforcement, “What ya gonna do about it?”
It became very clear how effective these poachers have become on a recent DNR wolf survey flight I joined. Three of the collared wolves in the study area from last year were now shot-victims of ‘lead poisoning’ as the researchers call it.
Knowing how much time, money and effort scientists put into understanding the complex lives of this animal and their place in nature these killings are all the more disheartening. I constantly hear how wolves are overrunning the state and that the DNR population estimates are too low. We’ve learned, however, the illegally killed animals probably more than double the hunt quota. This is not a small number and they are unaccounted for. Those who would disregard the resource, putting themselves and their groups above the law, are greedy. They see their ‘sport’ and their disdain for one animal over another as the only true way. They see just one pinpoint perspective of how our natural world is (or should be) …all other opinions (and laws) be damned.
So we must ask the DNR why a representative for a group so openly hostile toward wolves is even allowed to sit on this committee?
This brings us to the Wolf Advisory Committee meeting that was held yesterday in Wausau, WI. Following testimony from several wolf advocates and heated discussions among the committee a kill quota recommendation of 156 wolves was decided upon. As usual Al Lobner had a fit about the “low” kill quota and again expressed his outrage:
Al Lobner, representing the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, said he was “vociferously opposed” to the quota of 156 wolves. He advocated for 300.
These hounders are NEVER satisfied. They can use their four legged weapons to terrorize Wisconsin lands almost year round, openly use their dogs to attack coyotes and other wildlife, and expect to trespass at will. What more do these people want? All they do is take, take, and take while letting their dogs tear up our lands and terrorize our wildlife. Then they expect to get paid for their irresponsibility. Enough is enough. More from the meeting:
Since members vary widely in their views on wolves and consensus on a quota was impossible, they were asked to submit their preferred harvest number on a piece of paper. The submissions ranged from 0 to 300, with a mean of 156. Eleven members preferred a quota of fewer than 150 wolves; nine wanted a quota higher than 160.
Based on two models of the impact of human-caused mortality on wolf populations, a kill of 156 wolves this fall in Wisconsin would result in a population reduction ranging from 5 to 20%, MacFarland said.
The models also factor in mortality from car collisions and depredation control efforts. Non-hunting and trapping mortality to wolves is estimated at 14% annually, said Jen Stenglein, DNR wildlife researcher.
The committee recommended the proposed quota of 156 animals be split among the state’s six wolf management zones as: 33 wolves in Zone 1, 16 in 2, 41 in 3, 9 in 4, 21 in 5 and 36 in 6.
“Some of you are disappointed the quota isn’t higher, others are unhappy it isn’t lower,” MacFarland said. “But I think this in keeping with our goal of putting downward pressure on the wolf population in a responsible way.”
Gee, I wonder which groups are “unhappy?” Representatives of the Humane Society of the United States expressed best the position of most legitimate wildlife advocates in the state:
The Humane Society of the United States, though not represented on the committee, suggested the DNR suspend the wolf season as well as end “the unsporting practices of hounding, trapping, baiting and electronically calling wolves,” said Melissa Tedrowe, Wisconsin director of HSUS. Tedrowe also called for the agency to reconstitute the committee to “better represent Wisconsin’s citizens.” The HSUS was a member of the state’s wolf committee until two years ago.
More to come on this and other wildlife topics in Wisconsin. The fight is just beginning.