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.”

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