The U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled last week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must return wolves to being “protected” by the Endangered Species Act. The Human Society of the United States and other groups (and admitted anti-hunting groups) argued that even though wolves had sufficiently recovered to required federal goals in the western Great Lakes, that wolves in all 50 states should still remain protected – even in states like Wisconsin where they are thriving.
Wait … what?
So even though our population of wolves has recovered and many contend, continues growing, President Obama-appointed Howell thinks we shouldn’t be able to manage their population? In our own back forty?
Jeff Bast, of West Bend, has seen far fewer deer while hunting on his family’s land in Ashland County since 2007.
“I’ve seen deer numbers shrink dramatically over the last six to eight years, or more,” Bast said. “Is it all because of wolves? Not necessarily, but I’m confident they play a significant roll. Other factors include liberal doe permits, high bear population, and reduced logging in recent years. The wolf management system that had come into place, limiting doe permits and a resurgence in select-cut logging have been steps back in the right direction.”
Bast said he, like many hunters and groups in Wisconsin, don’t think a federal ruling should trump in-state regulations.
“No,” Bast said. “ It should be up to the local management officials to decide on best practices for wildlife management based on state-specific population numbers.”
Bast worries that with hunting and trapping not being a means of population control following Howell's ruling, that wolves could grow to levels that could be even more problamatic for hunting and other activities.
“Yes, I believe wolf numbers will go up,” he said. “Wolves have no natural predators and as long as they have a food source their numbers will grow. As the food source dwindles, they’ll move until they find food. It’s a matter of time before that leads them to suburban areas in greater numbers.”
Let's hope the DNR can rally and defend its premise that there is a huntable population of wolves in the state. If our own DNR came up with data that said the situation is under control, that is one thing, but when a sympathetic judge to anti-hunting can make a blanket ruling that trumps sound wildlife management, that just isn’t right.
We could be in for a battle. It will be a costly one for all those involved, including the already battered deer herd in northern Wisconsin.
There is more here than if wolves should or shouldn’t be hunted and trapped in the Badgerland. The larger topic here is why should a federal judge who has little knowledge other than what lobbyists and lawyers present to them make broad sweeps on rules that affect wildlife management in OUR OWN STATE!
It makes me want to throw some tea in Lake Michigan.
Maybe at least it would feed our salmon that are now in jeopardy, too.