I am a hunter. This is my favorite time of year. I look forward to spending hours in my tree stand with a bow at my side waiting for a buck to walk by and, in November, still hunting the fields and wood lots of the Driftless.
But I just can’t abide wolf hunting. At least not like this. I’m so disgusted by how radical, irresponsible groups like Hunter Nation are conducting themselves that I now hope that the Biden administration will re-list the gray wolf as an endangered species.
Since the Trump administration de-listed the wolf last January, some states — at the behest of radical groups and over the objections of responsible hunters and wildlife managers — have initiated wolf hunts that are scientifically unjustified and ethically wrong.
Here in Wisconsin, Hunter Nation forced through an ill-advised hunt last February that blew past the harvest goal by 80%. That hunt was the first in Wisconsin to take place during the wolves’ breeding season and so the hit to the population is likely to be well beyond a hunt that would have taken place at another time. Hunters were also allowed to use dogs to track and chase down wolves, a practice that many hunters, most definitely including me, find unethical.
In some western states hunters are allowed to use traps and even helicopters. Yes, helicopters. Why don’t they just call in air strikes?
I’m not against wolf hunts in principle. Wolves can be a threat to farm animals and domestic pets and they can have some minor impact on the deer population. But they can be kept in check in ways that are both ethical and underpinned by good science. This spate of hunts is more about “owning the libs” hard-right politics than it is about anything else.
Back in Wisconsin insult has been added to injury as the Natural Resources Board approved a hunt for this fall with an alarmingly high quota that far exceeded staff recommendations. And that only happened because Chair Fred Prehn, appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, refuses to give up his seat for a term that expired in May, which only underscores the political nature of the whole damn thing.
Dozens of tribes have now petitioned Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use her emergency authority to protect the wolf for 240 days while the issue is reviewed. That would prevent the irresponsible Wisconsin hunt from moving forward this fall.
More importantly, it would send a message to groups like Hunter Nation that they won’t be rewarded for their irresponsibility.
Welcome to the 211th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!