With just nine days before another wolf hunt begins in Wisconsin, Wolf Patrol has learned that biologists long associated with wolf management in the state, are warning that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) is severely under-reporting wolf mortality.
“The range of possible (wolf) mortality rates (may be) as high as 35–55 percent, or 7–27 percent higher than reported by the state.” — wolf biologists’ letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
So, while the WIDNR reports that recreational hunting in the 2013 season, accounted for 257 wolf deaths, factors such as poaching, depredation actions by state and federal agents, vehicle hits and natural mortality are not being accurately reported, meaning that the state’s estimated population of 658-687 may in reality, be much lower. It is already acknowledged by WIDNR, that the state wolf population was down 19% at the close of last year’s hunt, but the state must still ensure that a viable population (250) is maintained.
The recent letter sent to US Fish & Wildlife by Adrian Treves, Ph.D., director of the Nelson Institute’s Carnivore Coexistence Lab, and five other wolf scientists states “that the best available science was not used in gray wolf, Canis lupus, managing and monitoring in the Western Great Lakes Region … during the period 28 Jan. 2012–31 Dec. 2013. … We found significant omissions of information, unorthodox methods, and statements that could potentially be misleading in the state report to the USFWS. … We recommend the secretary of the Interior consider the option of emergency relisting, as provided in Section 4(b)(7) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as amended, because completion of the independent review using the best available science will require time but the Wisconsin wolf harvest is set to resume 15 Oct. 2014.”
But it goes way beyond wrong numbers. Since taking over authority of wolves from the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 2012, Wisconsin has implemented aggressive wolf control policies including being the only state in the nation to allow the use of dogs to run wolves down for sport.
Last December, 35 wolves were killed using trained hunting hounds. And it doesn’t end there either, Wisconsin bear hunters can legally train their dogs throughout the Summer months when wolf pups are most vulnerable. This Season alone, 15 hunting dogs have been killed by wolves defending their families, fueling even more anti-wolf sentiments amongst recreational houndsmen. One state lawmaker calls Wisconsin’s hound hunt for wolves, “legalized dog-fighting.”
Then there is the use of traps in Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, which accounts for over 80% of the state’s recreational kill. The use of steel jaw traps has been outlawed in most countries, not only because of the inherent cruelty, but also because of the large number of non-target animals unintentionally captured. In Montana and Idaho, where such figures have been researched, companion animals, deer, elk, moose, eagles, mountain lions and even a grizzly bear were accidentally caught in traps set for wolves.
Then there is the issue of the indigenous perspective from the Anishinabe people, who hold the wolf as a sacred relation, calling him brother. Every tribe in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan is opposed to the sport hunting of wolves, yet their opinion despite treaty obligations, is continually disrespected.
The tribes are represented by the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) who were recently refused access to the meeting where wolf population data aggregation and interpretation occurred. Wolf Patrol supports the efforts of GLIFWC to preserve traditional and treaty rights, and is asking that the WIDNR immediately implement a five-mile buffer zone around all tribal lands, to ensure the protection of maaingan, as the wolf is known to the indigenous people of the Great Lakes.
Which leaves Great Lakes Wolf Patrol with this mandate:
To document the legal practice of trapping wolves.
To monitor wolf hunting on public lands.
To gather information related to the above activities, to be used in future legal action against WIDNR, and the state’s wolf management policies.
To support community members who desire a peaceful co-existence with the gray wolf in Wisconsin.
This is our response. On the morning of October 15th, the wolves of Wisconsin will not be facing hunters and trappers alone. We will use our presence to further publicize the flagrant irresponsible management of public trust resources by the state of Wisconsin and the DNR, and hope that our efforts will aid the citizens of Wisconsin in pressuring their elected officials to rescind policies such as the hound hunting of wolves.