Saturday, September 24, 2016

Silverman: Don’t delist the gray wolf


Mark Silverman  
September 19, 2016

Pay no attention to the politicians who call for killing wolves rather than considering and testing alternatives. Instead, listen to your heart, and to the call of the wild.

Several Wisconsin legislators, (Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow), and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, are calling for the delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. Tiffany and Jarchow hosted a “Great Lakes Wolf Summit,” Sept. 15 in Cumberland.

Apparently, they hope we will buy into the myth of the wolf as an evil, killing machine, likely to prey on both cattle and humans.

The truth: 1) there is no record of a confirmed wolf attack on a human in Wisconsin, 2) old age, birthing complications, disease and bad weather kill far more livestock than does any predator, according to “The Hidden Life of Wolves” by Jim Dutcher.

Gray wolves, also known as “timber wolves,” are members of the dog family. Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states in the country with a wild gray wolf population. Before Wisconsin was settled, in the 1830s, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 wolves lived throughout the state. By the 1930s, wolves were nearly erased from the lower 48 states, “as a result of one of the most effective eradication campaigns in modern history,” wrote Judge Beryl A. Howell in a federal court decision that returned the gray wolf to protected status in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota (HSUS v. Jewell; United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 2014).

Wolves began a recovery in the 1970s, under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin had approximately 866 to 897 gray wolves in the winter of 2015-2016, according to the Timber Wolf Information Network website, citing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Dutcher writes that wild wolves have injured no one in the lower 48 states in the decades since their reintroduction, and that wolf tourism brings about $35 million a year into Yellowstone National Park and surrounding communities.

Alternatives to killing wolves, in order to protect cattle, include the use of electric fences, sound and lights, and guard animals. Traditional methods, such as fluttering flags and increased human vigilance, also may be used.

Many Native American cultures hold special reverence for wolves. Wisconsin tribes protested wolf hunts during the time wolves were delisted from protection in 2011. In the words of one Native American: “Wolves are like me; misunderstood, beautiful and wild, never able to be tamed, the epitome of freedom. All we want is to be accepted and loved for who we are.”

Pay no attention to the politicians who call for killing wolves rather than considering and testing alternatives. Instead, listen to your heart, and to the call of the wild.

And tell your congressperson to oppose Senate Bill 2281, which requires the delisting of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and Wyoming. You can find the contact information on http://www.senate.gov/ and http://www.house.gov/ websites.

Mark Silverman is president of the Wisconsin Animal Protection Society.

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