Midwest, Wyoming lawmakers target wolf protections again

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/midwest-wyoming-lawmakers-target-wolf-protections-again/2017/02/26/5e4ce15c-fc50-11e6-9b78-824ccab94435_story.html?utm_term=.73e2d4001ac9
February 26
MINNEAPOLIS — Pressure is building in Congress to take gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list, which would allow farmers to kill the animals if they threaten livestock.

Representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have asked House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for a fast floor vote before the season during which most cows and sheep will give birth begins in earnest. That followed testimony before a Senate committee a week earlier from the president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, who said producers need to be able to defend their livestock and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, both sides in the debate are waiting for a federal appeals court to decide whether to uphold lower court rulings that put wolves in the four states back on the list or to let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service return management of the species to the states, which it has wanted to do for years.

Here’s a look at some of the issues:

THE LETTER

 U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter co-signed by seven of his colleagues from the four states to House leaders urging a quick floor vote on a bill to return their wolves to state management. A key component of both is language that would prevent the courts from intervening.

The representatives said it’s urgent because calving season is when cows and calves are most vulnerable.

“As you know, cows and their calves can easily be worth several thousand dollars, so each instance of a wolf attack has devastating economic impacts on ranchers and their families. Currently, ranchers and farmers have no legal actions available to deal with gray wolf attacks because these predators are federally protected,” they wrote.

Peterson said in an interview that they very nearly passed a similar provision in the last Congress and that he thinks they have a decent shot at persuading Ryan to grant an early floor vote. Otherwise they’ll try to attach the language to a bigger appropriations bill later. The legislation is similar to what Congress used to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho in 2011 after courts blocked the federal government’s attempts to lift protections in those states.

“Wolves are not endangered,” Peterson said.

THE HEARING

The Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works held an informational hearing Feb. 15 billed as “Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, complained that it’s been illegal for farmers in the region to kill wolves that prey on their livestock since wolves went back on the list.

“As wolf populations continue to increase, interactions between farmers, their livestock, rural residents and wolves continue to escalate without a remedy in sight,” Holte testified.

THE COURTS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has long contended that wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming have recovered to the point where they’re no longer threatened, so hunting and trapping can be allowed under state control.

Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs to the point where they now number around 5,500, according to the service. The combined gray wolf population of the three western Great Lakes states is now about 4,000, while Wyoming has roughly 400. The agency describes wolf numbers in those states as “robust, stable and self-sustaining.”

But federal courts have blocked multiple attempts to take them off the endangered list, most recently in 2014. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last fall heard oral arguments in challenges to those rulings but hasn’t ruled on them yet.

THE OPPOSITION

Groups that support the federal protections say it’s premature to lift them because wolves are still missing from most of their historical range. They’ve been able to persuade the courts that the terms of the Endangered Species Act requires recovery in more than just a few states, even though the Fish and Wildlife Service disagreed.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said he’s skeptical that the latest congressional efforts will get much traction. He said Peterson and the other representatives who sent the letter are just sending a message to their constituents that they’re still trying.

Study: Human toll on gray wolves higher than estimated in Wisconsin

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/02/06/study-human-toll-gray-wolves/97579676/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

USA TODAY NETWORKLee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel11:41 p.m. ET Feb. 6, 2017

MILWAUKEE — A University of Wisconsin-Madisonstudy shows the human toll on wolves is higher than previously estimated and that state officials have underreported wolf deaths in past analyses.

For years, wolves have been shot illegally, struck by cars and trucks or legally killed by authorities acting on reports that wolves were killing and threatening livestock and pets.

But in a study published Monday in the Journal of Mammalogy, UW researcher Adrian Treves and a group of scientists found higher levels of illegal killing of wolves in Wisconsin than reported by the Department of Natural Resources.

As part of the study, the researchers reinvestigated fatalities of a subset of wolves and found “abundant evidence” of gunshot wounds and injuries from trapping that may have been overlooked as a factor in their deaths, the authors said.

The study is likely to be controversial. As wolves have recolonized and their population has grown to an official count of nearly 900, the debate over their impact has only intensified.

Treves, for example, has been a critic of the design of the state’s hunting and trapping season for wolves and its potential to damage a healthy wolf population over the long term.

In an open letter in November 2015, Treves was one of more than 70 scientists and wolf experts who said studies show citizens are more tolerant of wolves than commonly assumed. The scientists questioned whether wolves can sustain their populations under state hunting and trapping seasons.

Adrian Wydeven, a retired DNR wolf ecologist, who read an advance copy of the study, disagreed with aspects of the research, including Treves’ interpretation of DNR data.

The study “seems to suggest … intent by (the DNR) to under-report (poaching) when it really just represents use of different models or agency reporting raw data,” Wydeven said in an email to several wolf experts that was shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“We always tried to report exactly what we found in the field,” Wydeven said in an interview.

Wydeven retired from the DNR in 2015 and is coordinator of the Timberwolf Alliance at Northland College in Ashland.

In a statement, DNR spokesman Jim Dick said: “While the (DNR) data collected is useful in determining wolves killed, that’s not its intended purpose. The data collected is meant to determine population and such things as pack territories. Wolf mortality numbers are based on actual dead animals detected.”

Treves said he and his fellow researchers examined the DNR’s methodology and are not claiming that officials are purposefully underestimating wolf deaths.

In the paper, the researchers say that failing to accurately account for wolf deaths, especially in future hunting and trapping seasons, is “risky.” Also, if officials continue to underreport poaching, it “will risk unsustainable mortality and raise the probability of a population crash,” they write.

“My argument is that scientifically you have to put your best foot forward,” said Treves, founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at UW-Madison. “And when the DNR didn’t, they were doing it with an illegal activity (poaching).”

The UW study investigated the deaths of 937 gray wolves from October 1979 to April 2012 — a period that ends before Wisconsin initiated hunting seasons for wolves. Of the 937 wolves that died and whose deaths were investigated, 431 wore radio collars.

The UW researchers said that their analysis showed that the death of radio-collared wolves attributed to human causes was 64%. But the DNR calculated 55% and said an additional 18% of deaths were due to unknown causes, according to a DNR report in 2012.

Said Treves: “That’s a big number. We dug deeper and maybe it’s poaching.”

The researchers re-examined government records of necropsies and X-rays and found in some instances that gunshot wounds were a factor in the cause of death when other causes were cited.

The analysis also showed 52 wolves, or 20% of 256 animals that were X-rayed, revealed evidence of gunshots that did not kill the wolves. These cases were not added to researchers’ own estimates of higher poaching.

But the study said that figure lends credibility to the researchers’ claim that more wolves have been subject to poaching than the DNR reported.

Julie Langenberg, one of the authors of the study and a former DNR veterinarian, re-examined wolf death records.

She found evidence of gunshots that in the initial analysis were either mentioned briefly or not identified. Sometimes it was her own work.

“You are not looking at alternative facts,” Langenberg said of her review of wolf mortality in the study. “You are looking at the same facts, but because you are asking different questions, you are doing a different kind of assessment.”

She said the DNR’s job was to simply determine the cause of death.

Wisconsin officials reported that 528 wolves were killed during the state’s wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

During 2013, 257 wolves were killed — nearly half of all wolves harvested during the three years. Then  the wolf population dropped 18% from 809 in 2013 to 660 in 2014.

The hunts were halted in December 2014 by a federal judge who said Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan were violating the Endangered Species Act. This year, Congress, including Republicans and Democrats from Wisconsin, introduced a bill to replace federal protections with state management.

copyrighted wolf in water

Wisconsin Republicans Ask Congress To Remove Wolves From Endangered Species List– Lawmakers Are Hopeful President-Elect Donald Trump Will Help Effort

Wisconsin Republicans Ask Congress To Remove Wolves From Endangered Species List

Lawmakers Are Hopeful President-Elect Donald Trump Will Help Effort
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Republican state legislators Tom Tiffany and Adam Jarchow are again asking Congress to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list and they’re hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will help make it happen.

A letter from the lawmakers calls on Congress to overturn a federal judge’s decision and remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. That way the states can manage their population through hunting. Sen. Tiffany said the election of Republican Donald Trump could add momentum to their cause.

“I can’t speak for the Trump Administration, but I would think that they are more amenable to delisting. So, I think it moves the needle in the right direction,” Tiffany said.

Republican legislators enacted a state wolf hunt in 2012 but that was blocked in 2014 when a federal judge places the great lakes gray wolf back on the federal endangered species list.

Rep. Adam Jarchow said he’s hopeful federal lawmakers will listen to rural citizens and again let Wisconsin and others use hunting to control the wolf population.

“The people of rural Wisconsin and rural America in general are crying out for legislators in both Madison and Washington to pay attention, and a very important issue to people in rural Wisconsin is being able to have an opportunity to manage the wolf,” Jarchow said.

Jarchow and Tiffany have also called on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin to support delisting gray wolves. In 2011, Baldwin said she supported removing the wolf from the endangered species list.

https://www.thedodo.com/rebel-wolf-killed-zoo-1180189057.html

Toddler Hunting

baby-guns-1

http://shepherdexpress.com/article-27136-toddler-hunting.html

Jan. 19, 2016

Most people in Wisconsin may be shocked to learn children at the absurdly young age of 10 without any training at all in gun safety are being encouraged to roam our woods during hunting season using fully loaded firearms.

A bizarre gun subculture in this state actually won the support of Republicans controlling the Legislature for that irrational change in state hunting laws to intentionally increase the number of deadly weapons in the hands of very young children.

OK, brace yourselves. Republicans now want to make that dangerous situation unbelievably worse.

Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc, married to Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, has proposed a bill opening the way for toddler hunting. He wants to totally eliminate the state’s minimum age for children hunting with firearms without passing a gun safety course.

This has absolutely nothing to do with Wisconsin’s celebrated, strong hunting tradition. In fact, the radical changes in hunting laws are prompted by exactly the opposite—a fear by the extreme gun subculture that support for hunting in this state is growing weaker all the time.

Hunting enthusiasts have worried for years about the future of their blood sport because aging participants are dying off without being replaced by younger people. Kids today! You can’t get them to stop playing video games long enough to go out and really kill something.

That’s why the Legislature lowered the age to 10 for a so-called mentored hunt, allowing gun-toting parents to take very young children into the woods to get them hooked on blowing away animals before the kids become teenagers and discover less violent forms of amusement with each other.

An adult is supposed to stay within an arm’s length of an untrained child with a gun and the two of them must share a gun. Another dangerous change Kleefisch proposes is permitting both the adult and untrained child to be armed. If a deer suddenly appears, it’s not difficult to imagine both of them firing excitedly and lethally every which way.

There were more than 30,000 mentored hunts with young children in 2014, but apparently those kids weren’t nearly enthusiastic enough about killing stuff. So the only thing left for Republicans to do is to start arming kindergarteners and preschoolers.

What could be a more wholesome form of family entertainment? Well, let’s think. Almost anything.

 

Kids Killing Animals Is a Warning Sign

One of the most beautiful qualities of sweet, little children is their love of animals. Not their love of shooting animals. Their love for animals.

Why not go to the Wisconsin Humane Society and adopt a pet for your children to love and care for? Take them to the zoo to see awesome animals from around the world and develop a healthy interest in protecting the planet and all its living species.

There’s a reason why young children love their stuffed animals. And it’s not because they’re eagerly looking forward to an adulthood where their trophy rooms will be lined with stuffed animal heads staring at them with glass eyes.

Children are supposed to love Elmo, not think about tracking him, assassinating him and nailing his bright red hide to their bedroom walls.

In fact, psychologists warn that any child who shows cruelty by torturing or killing animals at a young age actually may be exhibiting warning signs of mental illness or psychotic behavior in adulthood. Jeffrey Dahmer did just that, you may recall.

And it’s not just wimpy liberals appalled by guns and hunting who think early childhood hunting is a terrible idea. Experienced hunters are the strongest supporters of improving hunter safety education.

Ray Anderson, a Madison hunting safety instructor, submitted written testimony to the Legislature warning many children under 12 are simply physically incapable of controlling powerful firearms and far too immature to use sound judgment regarding gun safety.

“Too many children age 10 or younger are not ready to hunt,” Anderson wrote. “We’ve had situations in class where 9- and 10-year-olds simply don’t have the maturity to handle a firearm. They inadvertently point the firearm at others and instructors. I implore you to not pass [this bill]. If anything, raise the minimum age limit …”

Joseph Lacenski, president of the Wisconsin Hunter Education Instruction Association, also opposed legalizing hunting with deadly weapons by younger children.

“Can that 1-day-old to 9-year-old differentiate between shoot [or] don’t shoot?” Lacenski asked. “Can they rationalize the difference between video games they have been playing and the consequences of the real world?”

It’s no surprise Kleefisch’s bill has the support of the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s twisted new advocacy of a gun in every child’s lunchbox is a gross betrayal of what once was that organization’s primary mission, safety education for hunters and gun owners.

When I was a new parent, my child’s tiny fingers seemed like a miracle to me. There’s something obscene about imagining them wrapped around the trigger of a gun.

 

Wildlife Photography a Crime? Stop Wisconsin’s Right to Hunt Bill

https://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/worse-than-ag-gag-stop-wisconsin-s-right-to-hunt-bill?cmpid=tpdaily-eml-2015-11-4

About the Petition

The Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill that would potentially criminalize photography in the wild and could even make being in the proximity of a hunter a violation of the law.

The “Right to Hunt” bill expands on legislation designed to prevent the obstruction of hunting, fishing, or trapping in the state. Photographing, monitoring, or recording hunters and trappers would be prohibited under the law if passed as written. Even maintaining “visual or physical proximity” to those engaged in hunting or trapping would be criminalized.

The bill is so far-reaching that it could practically ban wildlife photography and expose hikers and other non-consumptive public land users to hundreds of dollars in fines or even jail time simply for being in the presence of a hunter or trapper.

Please sign the petition to the chair of the Wisconsin Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry, and ask him to immediately table this bill and prevent it from becoming law.

To: Sen. Thomas Tiffany

I am alarmed to learn that the Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill that seeks to shield the actions of hunters and trappers from public scrutiny by grossly expanding the list of activities prohibited under existing law.

The bill, 2015 Senate Bill 338—or, as some are calling it, the “Right to Hunt” bill—would criminalize photographing or videotaping hunters in addition to maintaining proximity to or impeding a person engaged in hunting or trapping.

This proposed legislation is so expansive and restrictive that it could make criminals out of bird-watchers and wildlife photographers and put hikers, cross-country skiers, and other non-consumptive users of public land at risk of arrest. Public lands belong to all Americans, not just a chosen few that engage in activities favored by some politicians. This legislation appears not only designed to protect one class of citizens at the expense of another (in a likely unconstitutional manner) but also to prohibit public knowledge and scrutiny of activities on public lands that impact wildlife and wild places held in the public trust. Neither of these ends is a worthy goal for a state legislature to pursue.

The bill would also be bad for endangered wolves. One of the primary causes of human/wolf conflict in Wisconsin is depredation of bear hunting hounds by wolves defending themselves or their families from these packs of dogs. Criminalizing efforts to document this activity could lead to even greater conflict and more wolves killed in retaliation.

I urge that as chair of the Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry, you exercise your authority to table this bill permanently and prevent it from becoming law.

Sincerely,

[Your name here]

Paul Ryan And Friends?

Just wondering… (with the KKK-type hoods, there’s no way to know for sure)…

Newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan wields the speaker's gavel for the first time on Capitol Hill in Washington October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron1384140_564330240283396_857016214_n

When Geraldo comes to town: KKK fight put Janesville in national spotlight – See more at: http://www.gazettextra.com/20150803/when_geraldo_comes_to_town_kkk_fight_put_janesville_in_national_spotlight#sthash.veQaCYNi.dpuf

  Related Stories:
Marcia Nelesen
August 31, 2015
 Janesville has found itself in the national spotlight repeatedly through its history.

The hometown boy is serving his ninth term representing the First Congressional District and is also the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He captured the world’s attention when he became the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate.

Study finds locals less tolerant of wolves

When the wolves returned, they revived the same old anxieties that inspired the state-sponsored hunts and zealous poachers to originally drive the wolf out. Some locals in the wolf range, anxious about unchecked wolf populations preying on livestock and affecting deer herds, continue to grow less tolerant toward returning wolves.

Four decades ago, wolves were added to the Endangered Species Act, and the once expulsed gray wolf trickled back into the Wisconsin wilderness. Protected by federal law, wolves were allowed to grow and spread out among the wooded north, resulting in a resurgence of a species once considered extirpated from the state.

When the wolves returned, they revived the same old anxieties that inspired the state-sponsored hunts and zealous poachers to originally drive the wolf out. Some locals in the wolf range, anxious about unchecked wolf populations preying on livestock and affecting deer herds, continue to grow less tolerant toward returning wolves. It is a trend that even a state-sponsored wolf hunt could not break, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at UW-Madison.

Led by Jamie Hogberg, a researcher at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the survey looked at public opinion about wolves from before and after the 2012 inaugural wolf hunt. According to a statement made by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the hunt was supposed to improve social intolerance toward the maligned wolf. Yet, according to Hogberg’s study, the harvest may have had the opposite effect, at least among hunters in the wolf range.

“One of the stated goals of the harvest was to maintain social tolerance,” said Hogberg. “But in just that first year of the hunt, we didn’t see that among a key stakeholder group.”

The survey focused primarily on male hunters in the wolf range, outspoken community members who were surveyed in previous studies to see if their attitudes changed. Researchers also surveyed people who reported conflict with wolves and people who lived outside of wolf range, though the majority of respondents were self-identifying hunters living within wolf range.

Hunters fear that wolves, who primarily hunt a deer herd’s weakest members, could be impacting deer herds and reducing hunting opportunities. However, the wolves’ stake in Wisconsin’s deer herd is dwarfed by the 340,000 taken annually by hunters, according to the Wisconsin DNR.

Wolves have been delisted and relisted seven times since 2001, and are once again protected under the Endangered Species Act.   …[for now…]

Read more: http://host.madison.com/daily-cardinal/study-finds-locals-less-tolerant-of-wolves/article_d0db7198-0fdf-11e5-9d69-af762949aa54.html#ixzz3csLEdG23

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Feds restore protected status for Great Lakes wolves!

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/02/20/gray-wolves-endangered/23726317/?fb_ref=Default

Associated Press 6:58 a.m. EST February 20, 2015

Traverse City — Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region are protected by federal law once more.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a rule Friday designating wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin as “endangered” and those in Minnesota as “threatened.”

The rule complies with a federal judge’s order in December that overruled the agency’s earlier decision to revoke wolves’ protected status and hand management authority to the states.

It means sport hunting and trapping of Great Lakes wolves is no longer permissible.

A spokesman says the agency hasn’t decided whether to appeal the court ruling. Legislation to overturn it has been introduced in Congress.

More than 50 scientists this week signed a letter to Congress saying wolves occupy a small fraction of their former range and still need legal protection.

copyrighted wolf in water

Bill in Congress would remove protections for Great Lakes wolves

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27312693/bill-would-remove-protections-wolves-4-states-including

By Steve Karnowski
Associated Press

01/13/2015 12:01:00 AM CST | Updated:  

A gray wolf in an April 2008 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gary Kramer, File)

A gray wolf in an April 2008 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gary Kramer, File)

Several members of Congress are preparing legislation to take gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming off the endangered list in an attempt to undo court decisions that have blocked the states from allowing wolf hunting and trapping for sport and predator control.

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., is leading the effort, his office confirmed Tuesday. Co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Dan Benishek, R-Mich., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.

“I am pursuing a bipartisan legislative fix that will allow the Great Lakes states to continue the effective work they are doing in managing wolf populations without tying the hands of the Fish and Wildlife Service or undermining the Endangered Species Act,” Ribble said in a statement.

Ribble spokeswoman Katherine Mize said he hasn’t decided exactly when to introduce the bill, but the lawmakers are circulating a draft.

The legislation is in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., last month that threw out an Obama administration decision to “delist” wolves in the western Great Lakes region, where the combined wolf population is estimated at around 3,700. That followed a similar decision by a different federal judge in September that stripped Wyoming of its wolf management authority and returned that state’s wolves to federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Ribble’s bill uses a strategy that succeeded in taking wolves in Idaho and Montana off the endangered list after court challenges by environmentalists blocked those efforts.



Congress took matters into its own hands in 2011 and lifted the federal protections for wolves in those two states, which then allowed hunting and trapping to resume.

“The language we are looking at would be narrow and would address the recent court decision. It would not seek to change the Endangered Species Act, but would be designed to meet the need in our region for responsible stewardship of the wolf population,” Benishek said in a statement.

Peterson, the most senior member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, said he didn’t know what the prospects are for this legislation, but he said they’re probably better than they were in 2011 given that Republicans now control the Senate. He said he’s working to line up support from other lawmakers.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said in her 111-page ruling that the delisting, which took effect in 2012, was no more valid than the government’s three previous attempts over more than a decade. While wildlife managers in the three western Great Lakes states say their wolf populations are no longer endangered and can sustain limited hunting and trapping, Howell criticized the states’ regulatory plans as inadequate. She also said wolves still need federal protections because they haven’t repopulated all of their historic range.

Peterson said he has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to appeal her decision and was confident it would be overturned.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gavin Shire said no decision has been made on appealing Howell’s December ruling but said the agency did not appeal the Wyoming decision within the 60-day limit. He said the service wasn’t aware of any proposed legislation to delist wolves and couldn’t comment on it.

Under Howell’s ruling, wolves reverted to “threatened” status in Minnesota and “endangered” in Wisconsin and Michigan. Sport hunting and trapping is banned again in all three states, and Wisconsin and Michigan government officials can’t kill wolves for preying on livestock or pets — only to protect human life.

Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said he believes the ruling is already affecting farms and ranches, particularly smaller family farms where the loss of a cow or calf or two puts a big dent in incomes.

“At some point people are going to do what they’re going to do to protect their livestock. That ends up being a problem,” he said.