It’s been almost one year since the end of Wisconsin’s last “legal” wolf slaughter and the subsequent federal court ruling that placed the species back on the Endangered Species Act protected list. During that last year the states, anti-wolf politicians, the killing cartels, certain media outlets, big ag lobbies, and even misguided wolf “experts” have been pushing to forcefully remove the species from ESA protections and resume the yearly killing sprees under the guise of “state management.”
Summary of what the Endangered Species Act exists for:
The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a “taking” of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited.
Federal Judge Beryl Howell made it very clear in her ruling last December that the states “management” of gray wolves was severely flawed and and failed miserably at providing the protections and species growth that is a key element of the Endangered Species Act. While not explicitly spelled out, the state “management” of Wisconsin very likely played a key role in the decision the judge made to order the relisting of the species in the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin’s clear and open policy of pushing the species numbers down to a token number and allowing for 24/7/365 harassment by hounds very likely also played a role in her decision.
There are times, she said, a court “must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough. This is one of those times.”
She singled out Minnesota’s plan, which she said permitted the unlimited killing of wolves in some areas. The plan calls for a minimum population of 1,600 animals in the state.
But it allows “a virtual carte blanche” for eradication of wolves in the southern two-thirds of the state by allowing land owners and managers the right to kill them any time to protect their livestock and pets, even in the absence of attacks.
What was clearly spelled out in the Judge’s decision was the inadequacy of Minnesota’s plan that forcefully kept wolves in a small pocket in the state and much like the disgusting Wyoming plan, essentially allowed for open eradication through the rest. Minnesota also made it clear that their killing season was strictly for recreation and played no real role in the adequate “management” of the species other than to provide “hunter opportunity.”
“The intent of the wolf season was to allow sustainable hunting and trapping,” said Dan Stark, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wolf specialist. “We weren’t trying to have an impact on the [wolf] population or [livestock] depredations.”
In the past year the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota have done nothing to change their plans or how they want to “manage” wolves. Instead the state “wildlife” agencies, killing cartels, big ag lobbies, and anti-wolf state politicians ran to anti-wolf representatives and senators in Congress to force a legislative delisting to continue on their “death by a thousand hounds (and traps)” management plans. Instead of making a good faith effort to change the elements of their “management” that led to the court relisting and the furor of millions of wildlife advocates the states did NOTHING except to reinforce that they are hellbent at regaining control over the species and resume their reckless killing seasons and in the case of Wisconsin, the unlimited 24/7/365 harassment by hounds.
This entire issue illustrates the failure of the true intentions of the Endangered Species Act and allowing hostile states to “manage” wildlife. The purpose of the ESA was to throw a lifeline to imperiled wildlife and protect them from the often depraved and hostile eradication methods that originally pushed them to the brink and making sure that never happens again. Instead the ESA, particularly for species like the gray wolf and grizzly, has become a “farm team” for states to provide “hunter opportunity” for mass killing immediately following delisting. That was NOT the intention of the ESA but that is what our government has allowed to happen. This happened immediately following the Obama Administration’s misguided and ESA weakening 2011 “rider” that delisted wolves in Montana and Idaho where both states immediately instituted eradication plans. It also happened immediately following the delisting of wolves in the Great Lakes in 2012. In fact the very day, and almost to the hour that wolves were delisted here, anti-wolf legislators, led by the disgraced former Rep. Scott Suder, introduced the bill that would lead to Wisconsin declaring war on wolves and becoming the ONLY state in the country to allow dogs to be used again them, including the 24/7/365 “training” of hounds against wolves. Minnesota soon followed suit with their own “recreational” hunting and trapping season. This was in addition to their secret hiring of USDA Wildlife Services goons to kill hundreds each year even while under ESA protections.
Today, instead of changing how they want to “manage” wolves the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming are counting on Congress and the most anti-wildlife president in modern history to forcibly delist wolves once again to destroy the ESA and return to their near-eradication “management” of the species on the behest of big ag and the killing cartels. If the congressional delisting fails then they hope a federal appeals court overturns Judge Howell’s ruling. If either were to occur the ESA will become a paper tiger that becomes open for attack at the behest of any political “deal” and it will make wildlife hostile states even more aggressive and brazen with their “management” of species they already despise like wolves and soon the grizzly bear.
Wildlife advocates such as myself are often asked WHY we fight so hard to keep wolves and other vilified and imperiled species under federal ESA protections? One only needs to look at the picture above, visit the hate filled anti-wolf/wildlife social media sites, and listen to the fear mongering and misinformation presented by hostile states and politicians to have the answer. For these people “management” of the gray wolf and other “less desirable” species is an all or nothing proposition as their own actions demonstrate. Many wildlife advocates, such as myself, wouldn’t necessarily be against a delisting for the wolf if state “management” didn’t consist of what amounts to a declaration of war against the species and pushing it back to the brink AGAIN.
As I stated above species removed from the ESA should NOT be used as a “farm team” for hostile states and to provide “hunter opportunity.” This WAS NOT and IS NOT the purpose of the law. When anti-wildlife politicians talk about “reforming” the Endangered Species Act the mean that they want to further weaken it and for some outright destroy it. For wildlife advocates reforming the act means allowing it to function as it was intended to. This means the act should be in place to prevent wildlife hostile states like Wisconsin from regaining “management” of any listed species while the reckless policies that led to the initial listing are still in place. The act should also demand these states not be allowed to immediately institute mass killings of a delisted species and require that the states update their “management plans” to reflect the changing populations and changes of the reality on the ground. When a state like Wisconsin allows their entire “management” of a species to be determined by extremist “hunting” groups, like the openly anti-wolf Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, they are proving that they are not up to the task of responsibly managing a species fresh off the ESA list. Add on the disgusting and irresponsible allowance of dogs to be used against the species 24/7/365 and how can ANYONE with a straight face say that a state like Wisconsin can responsibly “manage” this species? You can’t and this is exactly why Judge Howell ruled as she did last December.
Wolves must remain under ESA protections until hostile states like Wisconsin make an effort to ethically “manage” this species. If you are a Wisconsin resident DEMAND that our state put aside the reckless and revenge minded policies that eliminated this species the first time and work WITH wildlife advocates instead of against us. By allowing the use of dogs against a species like the wolf the state of Wisconsin is showing to the world that they cannot “manage” this species in a responsible and ethical manner.
Find your Wisconsin legislators here and make it clear that they have failed miserably when it comes to “managing” the wolf population and regardless of a potential Congressional or court ordered delisting wildlife advocates will not back off nor will we accept any form of “management” that continues the use of dogs and reckless mass killing. The political pendulum always swings back hard and when it does the massive overreach Wisconsin has endorsed when it comes to “managing” this species will come back to bite the anti-wolf factions and their tactics very hard. The anti-wolf factions should be very careful about what they wish for and the ramifications of that overreach. Delsiting or not WE are not going anywhere and WE will continue to expose the reckless and barbaric attacks on wolves and other vulnerable species.
Please also contact your federal legislators and DEMAND that they not support any effort to weaken ESA protections for wolves or any other species until the states show that they will be responsible stewards for these species and not continue with their revenge/persecution policies.