Wolves in the Cross Hairs and Traps Once Again

Wisconsin joins Idaho with legislation to mercilessly kill wolves

Posted Mar 07, 2012

Right after I posted my heartwarming note about elephants mourning their good human friend, a story that made me smile and cherish how amazing other animals can be, I received an email that made me ill. This sickening note directed my attention to a bill, AB 502, that recently passed the Wisconsin Senate Natural Resources Committee. Basically, this bill and another, SB 411, "promote steel jaw traps and cable restraints, night hunting from roads and shining lights to confuse the wolves. Bait and lures. They expand hounding from cruelty to bears to include wolves (and all wildlife) 24/7 for 135 days and nights—eight months of mayhem. This gives no rest to the animals or citizens trespassed upon."

Indeed, innumerable people are against this repugnant and unethical legislation. "Adrian Treves, associate professor in UW's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and head of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, is co-author of an article titled 'Rescuing Wolves From Politics: Wildlife as a Public Trust Resource.' He testified that the bill as written could affect the long-term health of the state's gray wolf population. He said the bills propose untested methods over a very long season in too broad an area and legislate management decisions without the input of technical and scientific experts. The evidence simply isn't there to indicate that hunting wolves would affect depredations of domestic animals."

The bill is scheduled for assembly action today. You can sign a petition concerning bears here and also write to Wisconsin state legislators here (see also for more detailed information) about the plight of the wolves.

Wolves in Idaho revisited

And while I'm writing about the plight of wolves, there is more to report from Idaho's attempt to use dogs to lure and kill wolves, a bill (S1305) that has been returned to the state's Senate Resources Committee. I received this boilerplate letter from Janet Drake (<jdrake@senate.idaho.gov> (208) 332-1417), Majority Staff Assistant to the Idaho State Senate. Note what I've put in bold type. No one I know has ever heard of such attacks and I've asked them for the data, something that has not been forthcoming. I've also asked why Senator John Siddoway allowed 18 of his dogs to be killed by wolves (so he claims) before he did anything stop it. 

"Dear Concerned Citizen:

Thank you very much for contacting me with your thoughts on S1305, relating to the depredation of wolves. I certainly do encourage and respect every person's right and responsibility to express their opinion.

On this issue, however, there seems to be some misinformation and misunderstanding being perpetuated about the intent and reality of this proposed legislation. I appreciate the opportunity to share these clarifications.

Consider this: there are thousands of head of sheep and cattle and other livestock currently grazing on many ranches across the state, and hundreds of herding and working dogs helping to guard these animals. They are all out in the open range, with no corral or fence or other human protection whatsoever (except when the herders are there to feed and water them.) The guard dogs can only do so much and are no match for the wolves either. Are guard dogs no less an animal deserving of protection? Do sheep and cattle feel less pain or terror when being attacked by a wolf? Where is the compassion for these animals that are in peril 24/7?

Wolves do not attack exclusively for feeding—it's often for sport, and one pack has been known to kill as many as 78 animals in one attack, leaving ranchers with devastation to clean up. Numerous ranchers, too many to list here, have experienced significant losses. It is not just about the cost of the loss of the animals, the cost of cleanup, the lack of available funds to reimburse for the losses (20 cents on the dollar)—it's emotionally horrific to see the death of so many animals. It is a senseless loss, as you will note from the attached photos.

This bill would provide ranchers—and ONLY ranchers who have official verified wolf kills or losses—additional tools to protect their animals, tools that are currently illegal to use. When sheep are put in a tall corral with traps all around, they receive more protection than they do in the countryside. When a working dog is situated in a clearing, they are protected by ranchers and hunters who will shoot the attacker before it has a chance to harm the dog. These measures are only taken after confirmation that wolves have depredated the herds. This is not for anyone who feels like it to go adopt an animal from the shelter and take it out to feed to wolves any time they want—that behavior would be prosecuted as animal cruelty. Cats were never even mentioned in this measure, so that demonstrates how convoluted the discussion has become.

I hope you can see what we are trying to do is protect animals from unnecessary deaths from wolves. Yes, wolves are animals, too and yes, they have their place—but it is not their place to devastate herds. Removing wolves to protect thousands of other animals seems to be reasonable. The wolves have contributed to a significant decrease in populations of wild elk and other ungulates over the past ten years since wolves were reintroduced. It should also be noted that we are sensitive to the wolf management plan already in place, and do not intend to jeopardize that agreement.

Again, your input is appreciated, and I trust that this input is valued as well. We can only hope to do the best we can for the most people we can, recognizing we can't please everyone. That all said, the bill, S1305, has been returned to the Senate Resources Committee. Thank you.

~Senator Jeff Siddoway"

Cruelty can't stand the spotlight and it's never too late to express your opinions on this horrific legislation. Thank you for speaking up for animals who are voiceless and who cannot defend themselves. 

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