Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Conservation Congress won't listen on #wolves

Laurie Grosskopf 
March 17, 2015




Did you ever wonder what happens to those Wisconsin Conservation Congress spring hearing resolutions introduced by locals in each county? Sometimes the answer is that they get squashed by the WCC leadership. 

This happened recently with two local resolutions from last year's Marathon County spring hearing. The subject of both was the wolf situation.

One resolution was to provide unlimited harvest opportunities for wolves in harvest Zone 6, which was originally called "unsuitable wolf habitat" by the DNR experts. The experts later abandoned that label because they felt there were ample opportunities for wolves to live in most areas of Wisconsin originally designated as inferior wolf habitat.

The resolution, which passed in Marathon County with a vote of 122 in favor and 29 against, promoted an unlimited quota in wolf harvest Zone 6.

Local resolutions pass through an assigned committee, and if forwarded are considered by an executive council of the WCC every January. If the council forwards the resolution, it appears on the spring hearing questionnaire in April. If it is rejected, it dies.

The executive council discussed Marathon County's resolution, and the chief DNR lawyer, Tim Andryk, told the group that the judges wouldn't find this acceptable. He means federal judges, such as the one who recently returned wolves to endangered species status until their numbers are restored throughout their historic range.

Since when do we manage wildlife according to what some eastern judge thinks? The motion to allow unlimited wolf quotas in Zone 6 was rejected by the WCC executive council (see January minutes on the DNR web site).

A second resolution attempted to convince the WCC representative on the DNR's wolf advisory committee to support the 2011 spring hearing vote for a wolf goal of 350 or fewer.

When it came time to vote at the DNR advisory committee, the representative called the committee dysfunctional, moved to have DNR staff select the options to present in the draft wolf management plan (this was rejected) and refused to vote on the official position of the WCC.

So this resolution also was not forwarded to the spring hearing.

Twenty-five county boards have passed resolutions supporting a wolf goal of 350, or 350 or fewer. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Farmers Union and numerous other agriculture organizations support this goal. Almost every major hunting organization supports a wolf goal of either 350 or 350 or less.

With the upcoming county deer committees scheduled for March and the WCC spring hearings scheduled in April, one has to ask whether it is worth devoting time to such efforts that are largely controlled by DNR staff and WCC leaders who often seem intent on rubber-stamping the DNR's decisions. After over five years associating with WCC in a very intensive manner, I will no longer be wasting my time attempting to influence natural resource policies through WCC meetings.

Laurie Groskopf lives in Tomahawk.

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