PATRICIA RANDOLPH | state columnist
“You start looking and you realize nothing killed this. They died from a multitude of things: birthing problems, old age, bad hooves, cut by barbed wire. There were an awful lot of things attributed to predation that really were not.” ~ Carter Niemeyer, former Wildlife Services district manager
When Nancy Warren, executive director of the National Wolf Watcher Coalition, heard that Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, planned a Great Lakes Wolf Summit for Sept. 15 in Cumberland, she contacted Tiffany’s office to offer to educate participants on the role of wolves in healthy ecosystems and answer questions about how to coexist with wolves while ranching and farming.
Warren emailed me that on her third call to Tiffany’s office she was told her talk ”would not mesh with the agenda so I would not be allowed to give a presentation.”
The wolf summit does have an agenda. Tiffany apparently does not want a balanced debate, but is seeking to rally support for returning the control of wolves back to the state, overriding the protection they currently have under the Endangered Species Act.
Since eight of nine Wisconsin citizens polled in a Mason-Dixon poll do not want wolves hunted at all, this is no public service.
The summit’s keynote speaker is Ted Lyon, who wrote “The Real Wolf.” The book description begins: “How have thriving elk populations of thousands dwindled to mere hundreds in just a matter of years? Author Ted B. Lyon asserts the wolf is at fault. He also blames the wolf for the rampant spread of infectious diseases among livestock populations and the decimation of wild deer, moose, sheep, and domestic animals alike.”
The chart that accompanies this column shows that respiratory problems, health, digestive, calving, weather, diseases and injury cause 90 percent of unintended cattle losses. Wolves account for two-tenths of a percent. Coyotes, 3 percent. Bears, one-tenth of a percent.
Two of the authors who contributed to “The Real Wolf” book are typical of the prevailing mindset:
• Rob Arnaud owns Montana Hunting Company, which evidently specializes in killing buffalo.
• Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney who represents private property owners, ranching and farming organizations in “supporting grazing rights and multiple use on federal/public lands and exposing radical environmental groups’ abuse of the legal system.”
More than 13,000 bumper stickers reading “SSS” (SHOOT, SHOVEL, SHUT UP), urging illegal killing of wolves and all wildlife, were sold by Linda Grosskopf, “Real Wolf” co-editor and editor of the Western Ag Reporter.
The second of summit’s three speakers is David Ruid. The Eventbrite post about the event reads: “Dave Ruid is a federal wildlife biologist and has worked for the USDA/Wildlife Services for 26 years helping people resolve wildlife conflicts. During the last 14 years he has worked extensively with the wolf depredation management program in Wisconsin.”
The Sacramento Bee did an extensive expose of Wildlife Services in 2012: “For decades, Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has specialized in trapping, poisoning and shooting predators in large numbers, largely to protect livestock and, more recently, big game.”
“Killing predators is part of Wildlife Services’ DNA, a mission it pursues — along with a wide range of other animal control work — largely outside public view. … Sift through the numbers and you find that about 560,000 predators were killed across America from 2006 to 2011, an average of 256 a day. The body count includes more than 25,000 red and gray foxes, 10,700 bobcats, 2,800 black bears, 2,300 timber wolves and 2,100 mountain lions. But the vast majority — about 512,500 — were coyotes.”
Taxpayers paid $545 per kill.
“‘There was no discernible difference,’ Tony Wasley, a mule-deer biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told the Bee, adding, ‘none were significantly different than adjacent areas with no predator control.'”
“It didn’t make a difference,” Kelley Stewart, a large-mammal ecologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, is quoted as saying.
But something dangerous did catch her attention. In 2011, a mule deer tested positive for the plague, “a disease sparked by rodent outbreaks and potentially deadly to humans — in an area where Wildlife Services was killing predators.”
“‘It makes you wonder,'” Stewart told the newspaper. “‘In this area where we’ve been doing rampant predator control, we’re seeing a disease show up. Frankly, I’d rather see a deer get eaten by a coyote than show up symptomatic for a disease like plague.'”
On average, records show that eight dogs a month have been mistakenly killed by Wildlife Services since 2000. In Wisconsin, 20 dogs have been killed, supposedly by wolves, since July during the harassment of bears by packs of dogs.
The third speaker at the Great Lakes Wolf Summit is Donald Peay, founder of “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.” He specializes in fundraising for hunters and designing predator control programs.
In a 2013 Salt Lake Tribune editorial, “Just cry wolf: Your cash for the asking,” Peay, also founder of the hunting advocacy group Big Game Forever, is described as lobbying the Utah legislature for $300,000 supposedly to protect Utah from the federal government putting endangered Mexican wolves in Utah. This editorial points out: “But Peay’s pitch for public money to fight this four-legged hobgoblin doesn’t require much more from him than to cry wolf, just as the organization did last year and was promptly handed $300,000 with virtually no questions asked. At an appropriations hearing last month, when someone had the temerity to ask Peay what last year’s $300,000 had bought the state, he saw no reason to get specific.”
Tiffany’s farcical wolf meeting Sept. 15 will be held at Das Lach Haus, 1788 Elm Street, Cumberland, Wisconsin, 54829.
Ironically, Das Lach Haus translates to “House of Comedy.” Register at the site if you wish to attend.
The DNR is conducting a survey to determine what kind of activities interest Wisconsinites. If you care about wildlife, wildlife photography, peace in nature, hiking, biking, using the river systems peacefully, please let them hear from you. It only takes a few minutes to fill it out.