Football with Wolves

By Glen Wunderlich

To the dismay of animal-rights extremists, Michigan’s House of Representatives voted 69-39 last week to define wolves as a game species and to authorize the state to designate game species.  If this seems like deja vous, there’s a simple explanation:  It is.  This is the fourth time legislators have addressed wolf-hunting laws.

What has prompted this round of political football relates to a recent ruling by the state appeals court declaring the current law unconstitutional, because an attached-provision providing free hunting licenses to military members was deemed not to be related to scientifically managing wildlife. 

Just how we arrived at such a precarious juncture is worth recalling.  Michigan completed a Wolf Recovery and Management Plan in December 1997, which was revised in 2008. The Michigan plan recommends managing for a minimum of 200 wolves on the Upper Peninsula. The DNR’s goal is to ensure the wolf population remains viable and above a level that would require either federal or state reclassification as a threatened or endangered species.  This sensible plan, however, was rejected by an asinine federal court ruling that placed western Great Lakes states gray wolves back on the endangered species list in 2014, even though agreed-upon recovery goals have been far exceeded.  This decision is being appealed.

While the issue of hunting wolves remains in limbo in our region, Michigan’s legislature has paved the way to manage its wolf population according to sound science with the same sustainability that has been built in with every other game animal hunted. 

The elephant in the room is the struggle between disaffected voters and those citizens living with the devastating effects of wolf conflicts with livestock and companion/hunting dogs.  Never will the residents of the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula garner enough votes to overcome the fallacies of city-slicker voters; if wolves roamed the streets of Detroit, sentiment would certainly be different.

The plight of our Upper Peninsula residents would not be unlike that of our nation, had our forefathers not had the insight to adopt the Electoral College.  James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole.  Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later  dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”

Little does all of this matter to groups like the Humane Society of the United States, which supports no hunting whatsoever, because it views the lives of animals as being equal to that of humans.

Senator, Tom Casperson, an Escanaba Republican who sponsored two earlier wolf hunting laws overturned by voters in 2014 following petition drives largely backed by the Humane Society of the United States had this to say:  “We didn’t have the money to counter, but we still have the problem up there,” Capserson said last week, referencing fears of human safety and livestock attacks in the Upper Peninsula, home to all of the state’s estimated 618 wolves. “It’s severe. Something’s going to happen one way or another.”

“Anti-hunting extremists will never accept a hunt for wolves, no matter how much damage the species does to other wildlife, livestock or pets,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Hats off to the brave politicians who understand the misdirected enemies of common sense.

How’s HSUS Faring Post-Election?

With the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA must have the execs at the Humane Society of the United States fuming. Pruitt was no fan of HSUS, putting out a public consumer alert against HSUS and opening a well-deserved inquiry into HSUS’s deceptive fundraising. Pruitt’s inquiry was also the subject of some tough questions HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle received from US Senator James Inhofe at a hearing last year. While the EPA and HSUS won’t cross paths too much, Pruitt’s going to have a nice, direct line to a President and other cabinet members.

Overall, election night was a big “L” for HSUS. HSUS’s political arm went in heavily against Donald Trump, calling him essentially the worst threat that could possibly happen to HSUS’s agenda. And he won.

The HSUS world generally supported Democrats. According to FEC filings, HSUS employees spent about $14,000 personally, 100% of which went to Democrats. HSUS’s political action committee made $370,000 in contributions, of which 67% went to Democrats. And HSUS’s legislative fund made about $1.1 million in independent expenditures, with 77% going to Democrats. Democrats are out of power. And of the few Republicans that the HSUS PAC did support, a number lost their bids, such as US Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Mark Kirk (IL). Read more

No Wolf Hunting in Michigan

This from Michigan United Conservation Clubs…

In some disappointing news, last week the Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the Humane Society of the United States and invalidated the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which we all worked so hard to initiate and pass in 2014. HSUS, through their Keep Michigan Wolves Protected front group, challenged the law in the Court of Claims, which upheld it. They appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals, which ruled that the provision including free licenses for active military members was not related closely enough to scientific wildlife management to be included in the law, and struck the whole thing down.

We think they were in error on two points: 1) It is absurd to say that hunting and fishing licenses have no necessary connection with scientific wildlife management decisions when they literally fund the Department of Natural Resources in both implementing the scientific wildlife decisions of the Natural Resources Commission and the DNR’s time and research that goes into making those decisions. 2) Even if it was unrelated, the Michigan Constitution says that provisions of legislation found unconstitutional should be severed from the rest of the legislation, meaning that the ability of the NRC to make fisheries decisions and name game species using sound science should have been preserved, either way.

It is now up to the the Michigan Attorney General’s office, which represents the State in this case, to pursue an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. The AG’s office has been on top of this issue from the beginning and we hope they will continue to defend the State of Michigan’s ability to manage its fish and wildlife with sound science.

Help Michigan United Conservation Clubs defend your hunting rights by joining us at www.mucc.org/join_mucc!

Sportsmen Defeat Montana Trapping Ban

Montana’s Initiative 177 was soundly rejected by voters in the Gem State on the Nov. 8 ballot. The initiative would have banned trapping on all public lands, including city and county parks, municipal golf courses and more. While the final tally is still being determined, a vast majority of precincts have already reported and sportsmen are winning by a wide margin, 63 – 36. 

 

After years of failing to qualify a trapping ban for the state’s ballot, anti-hunting organizations turned to paid signature gatherers in order to do so – qualifying the initiative at the last moment in July. 

 

“We’re extremely pleased that the voters in Montana have seen through the shallow rhetoric from anti-trapping organizations about Initiative 177. This initiative would have had a devastating impact on Montana’s abundant wildlife populations, and posed a serious safety risk to pets and people. Worse, it would have forced Montanans to suffer severe losses before being able to deal with problem wildlife,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Today, sportsmen, ranchers and everyone concerned with scientific wildlife management protected the state, its citizens, resources and, most of all, wildlife by defeating this initiative.”   Read more

When Animal Rights Activists Attack

This from humanewatch.org

Civil discourse begins to crumble when people who do not see eye-to-eye cease to civilly communicate with each other and resort to acts of aggression (see current Presidential election!). This notion was on full display last week, when several animal rights activists harassed families seeking one of the quintessential experiences in New York City: riding a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park.horse12n-1-web-300x227

Leading this animal rights goon squad was Eddie Sullivan, a bulky activist who, like The Hulk, you apparently wouldn’t like when he’s angry. Sullivan, along with several other activists, have reportedly badgered and insulted tourists as they try to board the carriages, shouting insults like “typical f***ing ***hole tourists” in front of families with young children, as well as threatening to “make sure people won’t get into the carriage.”

But things went further than just the typical verbal intimidation, as Mr. Sullivan is seen on video approaching one of the carriage drivers, yelling at him and then proceeding to shove him hard into the carriage knocking the 55-year-old man off balance and causing one woman to yell “I have a baby, do you mind.” Sullivan was later charged with misdemeanor assault.

But families in New York City have not been the only victims of this verbal intimidation from animal rights groups.

Another example of this verbal intimidation is the case of a young Spanish boy with cancer Read more

USFWS Decision on Importation of Lion Trophies from South Africa

On October 20, Director of US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Dan Ashe announced the decision regulating the import of sport-hunted lion trophies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) from South Africa. The United States will not allow the import of lion trophies taken from captive lion populations in South Africa. However, wild and wild-managed lions from South Africa will receive import permits.
Safari Club International and the hunting community has been waiting for a decision on which range nations would be approved to import lion hunting trophies to the United States since USFWS listed the African lion under the ESA in December 2015.

As for other lion-range countries, Ashe says USFWS is still reviewing permit applications for those areas. The four African nations, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, will only receive permits to import sport hunted lion trophies if USFWS receives sufficient evidence of the long term benefits to their wild lion populations.   USFWS along with CITES has recognized the importance hunting plays in conservation. Ashe stated USFWS determined, “that sport hunting of wild and wild-managed lions does contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in South Africa,” and continued to explain that, “lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting.”

This conclusion is a blow to the anti-hunting rhetoric put forward by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and International Fund for Animal Welfare. The USFWS’s conclusion contradicts the assertions made by these anti-hunting organizations. The on the ground facts and the science simply did not support their position.

Not only does hunting enhance the survival of many species but also enhances the communities that support hunting on their land. Communities benefit from trophy hunting through hunting concession payments or other hunter investments, which typically support improved community services like water infrastructure, schools and health clinics; gaining jobs as guides, game guards, wildlife managers and other hunting-related employment; and gaining access to meat.
SCI will continue to work with wildlife authority agencies, in conjunction with professional hunting associations, to provide a clear link between the hunting of lions and the enhancement of the species. Scientific principles, not the emotionalism of anti-hunters, should provide the foundation for the management of wildlife and habitat.   Read Dan Ashe’s announcement on the Huffington Post here.

Sportsmen’s Alliance Presents Oral Arguments in Wolf Case

On Oct. 18, attorneys for the Sportsmen’s Alliance, the federal government and the state of Michigan presented oral arguments in their appeal of the ongoing Great Lakes wolf case. Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota were joined by other states in support of the appeal.

In December 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from the list of endangered and threatened species, restoring management oversight of the species to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Unhappy with that delisting, and the subsequent possibility for a wolf hunt, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sued. The HSUS lawsuit sought to return wolves to Endangered Species Act protections.

Despite overwhelming evidence that wolves are not only recovered, but thriving, in the Western Great Lakes region, in Dec. 2014, a Washington, D.C.-based, U.S. District Court Judge ruled that until the apex predators were deemed recovered throughout their entire historic range – which means from New York City to San Francisco – they could not be delisted. The Sportsmen’s Alliance and the federal and state governments appealed this ruling.

“Under the lower court’s ruling, it doesn’t matter that wolf numbers in the Great Lakes states are two or three times higher than the recovery goals adopted by the federal government in the 1990s. The ruling by the lower court means that until wolves are found in Chicago, Seattle and New York, wolves cannot be managed appropriately by state wildlife experts in the Great Lakes states,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “The ruling makes absolutely no sense, is legally and factually incorrect, and spells disaster for the future of the Endangered Species Act, wildlife and our entire ecosystem, which is why we’re appealing it.” Read more

HSUS Dupes the Uninformed Public in Oklahoma

GW:  Nothing new here…

The Humane Society of the United States isn’t affiliated with local humane societies, doesn’t run any pet shelters, and only gives 1% of the money it raises to local pet shelters to help them care for animals, according to its tax returns. We’ve seen many local humane societies try to clear up this confusion—but they don’t have a marketing budget of $50 million like HSUS, so it’s a tall task. Just look at one incident in Oklahoma last week—a state where the attorney general has clashed with HSUS.

According to Fox25, solicitors were going door to door raising money under false pretenses, a situation that prompted the Central Oklahoma Humane Society to speak out:

There’s a warning about door-to-door solicitors. A person or people claiming to be with the Humane Society are collecting money under false pretenses, the Central Oklahoma Humane Society told FOX 25. […]

Solicitors said they were collecting money for a behavioral program to help make dogs and cats more adoptable.

A number of concerned citizens called the Central Oklahoma Humane Society—which is no surprise, since many people assume that it would be related to HSUS. It isn’t, but HSUS is happy to collect money from an unknowing public.

At the time of the original report, HSUS denied involvement. But its tune changed in a follow-up story, and a spokeswoman tried to blame improper training of the solicitors.

What’s troubling is that—once again—HSUS goes to the well by raising money with cats and dogs, even though HSUS is ultimately more concerned with a PETA-like agenda to stop the use of animals for food. It’s unclear what “behavioral program” the HSUS solicitors were claiming the money would support; HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter. We suspect a lot of money collected would simply go to paying the solicitors.

An increased amount of training won’t change the underlying problems with HSUS: Deceptive fundraising that preys on name confusion between HSUS and local humane societies that do good work.

Wolf Attacks On the Rise in Wisconsin

Wed, Sep 14, 2016

Nearly 30 bear dogs have been killed so far in 2016. With the hunting season opening today, that number could skyrocket in the remaining months of the year.

Hunters are being warned of potential wolf attacks when running dogs this hunting season. (Photo: Holly Kuchera/iStock)Hunters are being warned of potential wolf attacks when running dogs this hunting season. (Photo: Holly Kuchera/iStock)

There’s always an element of danger present when bear hunting with dogs, but it’s expected to come from the bear. Not so in Wisconsin, as many bear hunters have found out the hard way this year. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is warning hunters to be on the alert as the year comes to a close, a result of more than 30 wolf attacks on bear dogs already in 2016.

As of press time, there have been 28 reported dog killings in America’s Dairyland this year, with the first coming in March. Two more followed in April, but the three kills were followed by a lull as the spring gave way to summer. Then in July another 11 dogs were killed by wolves as hunters began running their dogs ahead of the September bear opener. Read more

Alaska Plans to Challenge Over-Stepping Federal Wildlife Management Rule

Alaska officials plan to challenge in court a federal rule governing wildlife management on refuges there, hoping to end what they say is federal overreach by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The FWS recently adopted a final rule on predator harvests on wildlife refuges in Alaska, which state wildlife managers say violates the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Refuge Improvement Act, and the Alaska Constitution.

The rule prohibits taking black or brown bear cubs or sows with cubs, taking brown bears over bait, taking bears using traps or snares, taking wolves and coyotes from May 1 to Aug. 9, and taking bears from an aircraft or on the same day as air travel has occurred.

In 2015 the National Park Service (NPS), also under the Department of the Interior, placed similar restrictions on national park lands there.

While no litigation has been filed at this time, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker told the “Alaska Journal of Commerce” this week the state is planning a lawsuit to stop implementation of the rule, and is consulting with stakeholders and governors of other Western states because the federal overreach is a state’s rights issue.

FWS officials haven’t given one example of how these changes were necessary to ensure viable populations of any wildlife species. In fact, a statement by FWS Director Dan Ashe stated the rule was implemented, “In response to public interest and concern about predator harvests on national wildlife refuges across Alaska.”

State and federal officials have always partnered on wildlife management. But Alaska officials say the FWS’s recent actions cater to outside groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. and other environmental groups at the expense of the people relying on the resource.

The FWS manages 16 national wildlife refuges (76.8 million acres), and the NPS oversees 24 national parks (54 million acres) of land in Alaska. More than 60 percent of all land managed by the NPS is in this state.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said, “The implications of the FWS rule are also far-reaching . . . and it will likely serve as a model for similar takeovers in the Lower 48.

Alaska Congressman Don Young said, “This unilateral power grab fundamentally alters Alaska’s authority to manage wildlife across all areas of our state. If this rule is allowed to stand, we could see an opening for future jurisdictional takings by the federal government – transforming a cooperative relationship between Alaska and the Fish and Wildlife Service to one of servitude.”

Alaska is not the only Western state to take the federal agency to court in recent years. Arizona filed litigation against the FWS for failing its “statutory duty,” to develop an updated recovery plan to guide the Mexican wolf recovery effort there. They contend the action was necessary to force the agency to provide such a plan, and that utilizes the best available science as legally required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“The Service is currently in litigation with special interest groups and settlement discussions could possibly occur without our knowledge or involvement, as has occurred in previous Mexican wolf lawsuits. As the state’s wildlife authority, we will not sit on the sidelines when it comes to decisions affecting Arizona’s wildlife,” said Robert Mansell, chair of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

“The commission repeatedly requested an updated recovery plan from the Service over several years, as the current plan was developed in 1982, and fails to provide several of the key legal requirements. One of the key failings of the current recovery plan required by ESA is the identification of criteria required to downlist and delist this subspecies of wolves from the ESA. Without these criteria, it is impossible to ever remove Mexican wolves from endangered status,” said Mansell.

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMGF) recently received a temporary restraining order in a District Court to prevent the FWS from releasing endangered Mexican gray wolves there, until FWS can come up with a detailed, science-based recovery plan for the species.

After requesting the plan, the FWS released two pups, despite widespread opposition from ranchers, hunters, and wildlife management officials in that state.

NMGF’s Director Alexandra Sandoval said the releases were, “unpermitted and illegal,” and the action “demonstrates a disregard for our state’s sovereignty.”

— Etta Pettijohn

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