An attempt by some Wisconsin lawmakers to force a rushed and unlawful wolf hunting season in the state beginning next month has been narrowly defeated by the state’s Natural Resources Board.
In November, we reported how we had helped stop an effort by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board to open a wolf hunting season soon after the Trump administration stripped federal protections for wolves. In a letter to state officials, including Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Natural Resources, we warned that such an action would be unscientific and illegal, with disastrous consequences for the wolves. Under current Wisconsin law, a wolf hunting season can only begin in the fall.
Shortly after receiving our letter, the DNR announced they would not open a trophy hunt until November 2021 and committed to transparency and broad public engagement before doing so.
Unfortunately, some Wisconsin lawmakers and their allies on the Board decided they could simply disregard those commitments—and the opinion of those who elected them—to try and railroad an early wolf hunting season through.
The lawmakers rushed to hold a joint informational hearing on an early wolf season and then prevailed upon the state’s Natural Resources Board, a governor-appointed group that sets policy for the state’s Department of Natural Resources, to blindside Wisconsin residents and wolf advocates with a special hearing, held today, for a February hunt.
According to the meeting agenda, the legislators sent the board a letter demanding DNR implement a wolf hunt immediately, adding that wolves need to be hunted now before they’re put back on the federal endangered species list.
Wisconsin residents got less than 48 hours’ notice about the hearing today, but hundreds of individuals, scientists and tribal representatives still submitted written comments and nearly 50 people signed up to testify, with the majority opposing such a reckless rush to slaughter.
We are thrilled that the Natural Resources Board chose to listen to these voices today and defeated the motion for an early wolf season by a vote of 4-3. The victory would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy of the Indigenous communities of the Great Lakes, including the Menominee Tribe, Red Cliff, Fond du Lac, Lac du Flambeau and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa. The standing of their sovereign governments, which do not support the slaughter of wolves, known as Ma’iingan or Brother Wolf, played a critical role in halting the hunt.
There are so many good reasons why Wisconsin should not rush into a wolf hunt. If Wisconsin were to hold a hunt early in the year, when the state does its annual wolf population estimate, it would not only disrupt its wolf population, but it would be unlikely to have an accurate count of how many wolves are in the state in order to make decisions on hunting quotas. Wolves are in the midst of their breeding season during this time.
Wisconsin also needs to update its wolf management plan, which is more than 20 years old and badly outdated. The current plan would allow hunters and trappers to slash the state’s wolf population by 66%, allowing it to reach an arbitrary and dangerously low population goal of just 350 wolves in the entire state.
The number of wolves lost could be higher because killing a single animal can cause entire families to break apart and lead to young pups, still dependent on their mothers, dying of starvation or predation. A recent Wisconsin-based study also found that allowing the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves can lead to an increase in poaching.
The excuse the lawmakers pushing for an early hunt give—that wolves threaten their rural constituents’ livestock—is exaggerated and based on misinformation. Studies and state and federal data have demonstrated that such conflicts are very rare and are not solved by wolf-hunting seasons. The DNR would have much better results in avoiding any conflict by using proven effective and humane non-lethal methods.
The Wisconsin DNR has repeatedly committed to making the process surrounding the opening of a wolf season transparent, inclusive and thorough. Wolf populations around the United States remain threatened and we are fighting in court to ensure that federal protections for these apex carnivores, so crucial to the ecosystems they inhabit, are reinstated. Meanwhile, we will continue to oppose efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere to open a season on wolves.
The inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris heralds a new beginning. Most Americans are looking forward to putting the challenges of last year behind them. But many are still facing the difficulties of illness, unemployment and economic uncertainty because of the . . .
A U.S. District Court has ordered Jeff Lowe, a notorious big cat exhibitor who took over the running of Joe Exotic’s zoo, GW Exotics, to surrender all big cat cubs and their mothers in his possession over allegations of mistreatment. The preliminary injunction in the . . .
In October last year, the Trump administration stripped federal protections for wolves, giving state managers in the lower 48 states the ability to greenlight trophy hunting and trapping seasons on these animals. Today, we and our allies sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over . . .
37 chimpanzees once used for research are still locked up in a lab. We are suing the NIH to release them to sanctuary
Thirty-seven chimpanzees languishing at a New Mexico primate laboratory are still waiting for the National Institutes of Health to fulfil a promise it made in 2015—to retire them to sanctuary after a lifetime spent in research. Today, we’re giving these animals a helping hand by . . .
Vietnam is one of the world’s largest consumers of rhino horn for use in traditional medicine. The demand there has helped push this distinctive animal to the brink of extinction. The animals are killed for their horns and a small number remain alive and suffer . . .
Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for the coronavirus in the first known cases of its transmission to non-human primates. The animals are believed to have contracted the virus from an asymptomatic zookeeper. This is distressing news on many levels. . . .
A bill that would prohibit public contact with big cats like tigers, lions and leopards and ban the possession of these animals as pets was swiftly reintroduced in the U.S. House today, suggesting that the measure is poised for early action in Congress. The Big . . .
The Trump administration, in its final days, is attempting to undo crucial, century-old protections for migratory birds as a handout to the construction and oil and gas industries. A new rule published this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would exempt industries from . . .
Lawsuit over puppy that would cost $26,000 after interest exposes Petland’s deceptive sales and lending practices
A recent court case in Florida shines the spotlight on the questionable tactics Petland uses to dupe customers and make large profits off the sales of sick puppies—most of whom come from puppy mills. The case involved a Petland store in Plantation, Florida, which sold . . .
Greyhound racing has ended in Florida. 49 states say animal torture is a felony. In 2021, we will continue to win more battles for animals on the state and local levels
On Dec. 31, Florida’s greyhound racetracks closed for good as a result of a ballot measure we helped pass with our partner groups in 2018. That win brought down what was once the stronghold of this “sport” and effectively sounded the death knell for greyhound . . .
As pandemic continues and spotlight shines on animal-human transmission, House members reintroduce bill to end U.S. trade in wild animals for food and other products
With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, the urgency around preventing similar disease outbreaks in future by addressing the public health risks posed by live wildlife markets is greater than ever. Yesterday, on the first day of the new Congress, members of the U.S. House reintroduced . . .