Wolf delisting out of budget package
Score this round to the anti-hunting, anti-farming Humane Society of the United States.
No matter the reason — and there is certainly no shortage of conspiracy theories floating around — HSUS was a winner when a widely-anticipated rider to return wolf management to the Great Lakes states and Wyoming was left off of a Congressional budget package last week.
That’s because the Humane Society uses wolves as a cash cow for fundraising in its efforts to end hunting, trapping and factory farming.
Taking gray wolves off the endangered list in the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota is a no-brainer, with populations of wolves many times higher than recovery goals and sound management plans in place.
But HSUS and other anti-hunting groups found a federal judge last year who ruled the state plans might not be enough to ensure that wolves wouldn’t become endangered again, and that wolves hadn’t repopulated all of their former range — never mind that much of that range is now covered by cities and suburbs, or farmland.
The decision prevented Wisconsin and Minnesota from having hunting and trapping seasons this fall. Even after three years of such seasons in Wisconsin, the estimated wolf population jumped significantly last winter.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin Republican, was among the lawmakers who had hoped to return management of wolves to the DNR with a federal bill rider. A similar tactic was used in 2011 when Idaho and Montana wolves were removed from the endangered list.
Rep. Colin Peterson of Minnesota told a reporter that budget negotiators dropped the provision from the final bill because the White House had threatened a veto if the bill contained any changes to the Endangered Species Act.
However, political science professor Ralph Maughan said an email from the Sierra Club hinted that the reason why the wolf rider and other “anti-conservation, anti-wildlife, and many anti-environmental Republican riders died” was the acceptance of the Republicans’ strong desire to allow oil exports.
The email, he said, read in part, “Democrats, despite being in the minority, extracted a high price as part of the deal, including a five-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit for solar energy projects, a five-year extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy projects, a three-year extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the removal of hundreds of disastrous environmental riders.”
The email continued, “Proposed poison pills that were thwarted include: repeals of public health standards for our water and air, blocking the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, deregulation of fracking on public lands, increased logging in our National Forests, delisting wolves from the Endangered Species Act, and a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released this statement to the media: “The centerpiece of this bill, lifting the crude-oil export ban, is an outrage. At the same time, Democrats successfully secured a number of important victories for clean energy, public lands and our climate during hard fought negotiations.”
Though an act of Congress might have opened the door to wolf management more quickly, appeals to the judge’s decision continue.
Returning wolf management to the states can’t come soon enough for hunters and business owners in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where complaints of more wolf tracks than deer are being made in many areas.
Data on dozens of confirmed wolf depredations on hunting dogs, pets and livestock in 2015 and so far in 2016 is available http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/wolf/.
The Deer Management Assistance Program is providing some valuable data to participating landowners and the DNR.
In its second year, the DNR has been working with more than 700 landowners on nearly 88,000 acres of land.
DMAP provides habitat and herd management assistance to private landowners and public land managers interested in improving habitat conditions for deer and other wildlife.
Deer and wildlife observations and biological data (age, sex, weight and antler growth) on harvested deer are tracked. Over time, data collection may reveal trends indicating progress toward habitat and deer management goals. Three enrollment levels are available, depending on the size of the property.
Landowners can submit an application prior to March 1 to be considered for a site visit next summer. Get more info at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/DMAP.html.
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Wolf delisting out of budget package