LETTER: Wolf hunt hurts state ecologyAs noted by Terrell Boettcher of the Sawyer County Records on Sept. 11, five out of six farmers in the area of Sawyer County see evidence of wolves but have no depredations due to tried and true responsible husbandry practices.
As noted by Terrell Boettcher of the Sawyer County Records on Sept. 11, five out of six farmers in the area of Sawyer County see evidence of wolves but have no depredations due to tried and true responsible husbandry practices.
The good news in wolf recovery is that out of 60,000 livestock farms in Wisconsin with 3.5 million cattle, there were only 18 confirmed wolf depredations on cattle in 2012, according to the DNR’s “Wolf Damage Payments.” The bad news is that we only hear about the few confirmed depredations.
In the Sawyer County incident, the farmer received compensation and a permit to kill up to five wolves caught attacking livestock on his land in the future. In addition, Wildlife Services put down traps and killed nine more wolves. Now we have disrupted three plus wolf packs that need to hunt to provide food and have lost critical pack mates. The odds increase that they will depredate if given the opportunity.
The old school practice of lethal management for critical species such as the gray wolf is not proven to work in the long run. Credit needs to be given to a majority of Wisconsin livestock owners who are using tried and true husbandry practices that work. First and foremost, they are out with their cattle throughout the day, training them to bunch up and chasing off predators, installing fencing, fladry, guard animals and noise abatement to name a few. If these livestock owners find carcasses of dead animals, they remove them immediately.
By doing these things, they are training wolves to avoid their farms and in so doing, the wolves are training their yearlings and cubs to do the same thing. You cannot change the behavior of a dead wolf.
Wolf hunts are even more damaging as they indiscriminately kill non-depredating wolves and disrupt wolf packs on a large scale.
Wolves were brought back for one reason, to restore Wisconsin’s degraded ecosystem (see “Recolonizing Wolves Trigger a Trophic Cascade in Wisconsin).
In a nutshell, the wolves keep the ungulates moving, which allows the understory plants to grow; which provides habitat for birds; prevents soil erosion by streams; keeps water cooler and cleaner; increases insects for fish to eat; beaver habitat, etc.
We have completely lost sight of why wolves were protected, and thanks to political opportunists and special interests, are in the throes of another wolf hunt. It is not in the best interests of Wisconsin’s natural resources or livestock owners to have a wolf hunt.
It is time to enter the 21st century and take back our natural resources from those that choose to destroy them.