Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cathy Stepp’s New WDNR: Dysfunction Junction


By Rachel Tilseth

This is Cathy Stepp’s WI Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC) that decides wolf management policy in Wisconsin. “Cathy Stepp Says Staunch Hunting Opponents Weren’t Being Productive Members Of Advisory Body…” more on this story http://www.wpr.org/dnr-secretary-confirms-wolf-hunt-opponents-were-removed-advisory-committee

Here is a list of Cathy Stepp’s hand Picked WAC, that she thinks better suited to, “…people who were willing to work with us in partnership…”:United States Fish & Wildlife Service(USFWS), United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services(USDA WS), Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission(GLIFWC), Wisconsin County Forest Association(WCFA), Wisconsin Conservation Congress(WCC), Safari Club International(SCI), Timber Wolf Alliance(TWA), Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association(WBHA), Wisconsin Bowhunters Association(WBA), Wisconsin Cattlemans Association(WCA), Wisconsin Trappers Association(WTA), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation(WWF) and 10 WDNR biologists.

The WAC is heavily slanted towards recreational trophy hunting of wolves with 9 citizen pro wolf hunting organizations to 1 pro wolf citizen organization. Further, according to Cathy Stepp this committee is more productive than opponents of the wolf hunt. There is evidence to the contrary that shows the WAC productiveness is comparable to reality TV’s Housewives of NYC.

This blogger spent eight hours listening to fringe hunters try their best to “make it happen” to suit their agendas no matter what the cost. At one point during all this dysfunction, A member said let’s vote on how dysfunctional this committee has become. They further stated in obvious frustration, “This is like herding cats.” Said by WCC member. Why was this WAC member so frustrated?
The first agenda item was to set wolf population numbers for the new wolf management plan and It took up the entire meeting. Yes, you read this right that it took the rest of the day.

So much valuable meeting time was taken up with pointing fingers at this group or that group that even public observers found it dysfunctional. A collegiate observer commented that this committee should act singular with the same goals and leave groups names out of the discussions to paraphrase them.

How many wolves can WI support is even more important factor now that citizens have shown they want wolves. Here is the link to an article on the wolf survey to support this http://www.jsonline.com/sports/outdoors/survey-results-conflict-with-dnr-plan-to-reduce-wolf-population-b99338455z1-272798681.html?ipad=y

The goal of the WAC is to determine what the social (what the public wants) and land carrying capacity of wolf population for the 2105 wolf management plan. The WAC has the obligation to work together for this end goal. Right? This was not the case as several pro hunt WAC members refused to move beyond their own organization’s agenda on wolf population numbers.

“Well you have to kill them to save them.” Said by WI Wildlife federation member. Comments such as this seemed to be claiming their (WWF) own special brand of non-science based conservation.
WI Bear Hunters Association, and WI Bow Hunters Association Committee members accused the agency (WDNR) of being in favor of higher wolf populations. WBA was clear that they want to stick to the 350 wolf population numbers no matter what the cost even bringing up past history. WI Bear Hunters Association committee member claimed the agency is not keeping their promises made to them regarding wolves and get this: promises made over 30 years ago.

WI Bow Hunter Association (WBA) committee member went to great lengths to justify keeping wolves to the original management plan of 350. They brought up an old unsubstantiated document from Timber Wolf Alliance regarding discussion on the infamous “350” wolf population number from almost a decade ago. This document was disputed by several pro hunt and pro wolf WAC members yet the stalemate continued.

By mid afternoon break it was evident that several pro hunt committee members were not going to compromise on any wolf population number other than the 350. Even remarking that they are not authorized by the organization they represent to approve any other number. Meanwhile other WAC members were becoming frustrated by this lack of cooperation.

The committee tried to move forward with a vote and at that point one WAC member abstained from voting because this process had become to dysfunctional to paraphrase GLIFWC member.
In the end the WAC committee voted to advance the following goals for public input: establish wolf population either, numerical goal of 350 or 650, or numerical range of 300 to 650 or a threshold of 350.

Many WAC members voiced concerns that these numbers are up for public comment and are only recommendations. These numbers need to be taken serious or else wolves could be re-listed further, stating if any federal agencies sees wolf population numbers drop below healthy numbers they would be re-listed.

Even with this these cautions of re-listing wolves: the Pro hunter WAC members wouldn’t budge, making the process of finding suitable middle-ground impossible.

WAC member from WI Cattlemen’s Association remarked that wolves are harassing and killing their livestock and they want 350 populations goals that were established over a decade ago. On the other end of the spectrum was the opinion given from WDNR Depredations manager that lethal controls are in place for landowner and livestock owners to remove problem wolves: that the wolf hunt is not needed to control problem wolves to paraphrase them.

This WAC should be disbanded after all it’s not working for citizens and Wisconsinites public opinions are being ignored repeatedly. WI wild wolves belong to the land first and foremost, because they have a valuable ecological role to play. WAC should be in discussion of how to live with wild wolves not solely just trophy hunting them. Lastly Cathy Stepp has shown little regard for what citizens want by excluding those who have, and have had a stake in discussions regarding wolves.
IMG_1933.JPGIn its current state WAC is “dysfunction junction.”

Photograph taken of WAC meeting 9/10/14 by Rachel Tilseth

Source: The Wolves of Douglas Co WI