Jun 14

Attacks on Endangered Species Act Hiding Behind Bad Attitudes and Bad Science

Wolves in the Western Great Lakes remain under Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection following a federal court decision in December 2014. Judge Howell criticized the states for inadequate regulatory mechanisms. The court ruled the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service failed to address the impact of combined mortality such as disease and human killing.

Prior to this ruling, more than 1,500 wolves have been killed through recreational hunting and trapping resulting in a substantial reduction in wolf populations. This added human-caused mortality constitutes a threat to the species. 

wolfphtoDespite the known threats to wolves, the State, along with proponents of killing wolves are again calling for delisting wolves. Their reasons are not supported by the best scientific evidence. There is no call to improve federal agency science that caused wolves to be relisted by the above-mentioned lawsuit. There is no call to ensure stakeholders, such as non-consumptive users, be represented in DNR and federal wildlife agencies. The argument that wolves take funding from other species, even given the possibility that keystone species protect a wide variety of other animals, seems to be a held belief amongst scientists within these agencies, some university scientists funded by agencies, and even those in wolf education. Where is the call to increase funding for all species at risk? Nothing’s changed. They present no new evidence and they make the same tired and unsupported claims. Those trumpeting delisting would be wise to fix the problems the judge identified. If not litigation will resume and that’s what the U.S. Constitution had in mind when it established separation of powers.

In a summit scheduled for September of 2016, State of Wisconsin officials and GOP politicians, known for their endorsement of trophy hunting and opening public lands to free-running hounds, will try to advance their argument for delisting wolves. It is also worth noting the State of Wisconsin does, in fact, manage wolves under endangered status, and USDA’s Wildlife Services in conjunction with the DNR is implementing a wide array of non-lethal farming practices that work. We commend them for this success.

However, some claim culling wolves is necessary to protect livestock and pets. Evidence suggests that harvesting wolves as a means to manage depredations is unscientifically sound (Vucetich et al). An additional study forthcoming from University of Wisconsin  indicates culling and hunting have lousy track records for preventing livestock losses and have increased them in at least three regions.


Some claim culling wolves will prevent poaching. Last month, Guillaume Chapron, PhD and Adrian Treves, PhD released a new study suggesting the opposite. They found that the wolf population growth slowed when the state had authority to cull wolves, independent of how many wolves were culled. The scientists inferred that poaching increased when the state had power to kill wolves. This evidence is consistent with the findings on inclination to poach wolves.

The States have no scientific justification for management flexibility. Instead they seem to want that flexibility to kill more wolves for trophies, improve attitudes towards the agency and to appease donors & special interest groups. Wolves would once again be killed statewide using unscientific and unethical practices.  These include hunting into breeding season, trapping in areas of prime habitat and the use of hounds throughout Wisconsin. The WI DNR does not refute information about dogs being killed but with their state managed wolf hunt, dogs will be used, which is dog fighting.

Delisting decisions should be based solely on the best scientific evidence and without commercial private interests or politicians using fear and false data to get votes. Some Federal legislators are calling for wolf delisting by attacking the ESA, which is the most popular environmental law in the nation.  We call on you to ask your Representatives, on all levels, to uphold democracy, transparency and science-based policy because current proposals and policies lack all.

7 Comments on Attacks on Endangered Species Act Hiding Behind Bad Attitudes and Bad Science

  1. The DNR ( and most state wildlife management agencies ) across this country are funded on killing licenses and have been since their beginnings. This is an insurmountable bias that drives the agency to recruit trappers, hounders, wildlife abusers and provide maximum killing to its elite clientele. We must reform the agency to a first time democracy by funding it on general public funds already brought to state tax coffers 11 times the revenue of wildlife hunters and trappers. What is lacking is general public pressure and involvement.

    Until we address this fundamental imbalance, wildlife will continue to be under assault. Deer will be farmed for artificially high numbers as the major cash crop. Trophy killing will continue to be the mindset. And trappers and hounders will rule. The result: Lyme disease, CWD in 25 of the two-year old bucks, avian flu, and diseases that endanger and cause great suffering to us all.

    The DNR does not follow science. They cater to their killing clientele and recruit on $5 licenses to expand it as their power base.

  2. Craig Downer says:

    Yes, wolves tone their prey populations, whereas human hunters take the most fit resulting in a degradation of the prey population, since natural selection is displaced by human. There is such blatant ignorance and blind traditionalism involved with the establishment here. It must be effectively challenged!

  3. Diane Lang says:

    Yes the DNR should stop catering to the trappers & hunters. This is not the 1800’s & people cannot kill endlessly without repercussions. Extinct is forever. Scientists are saying that half of all species will be extinct by the end of the century.
    We need to look after wildlife for future generations. Especially key species such as bears & wolves.

  4. CORRUPTION AT ITS WORST!
    WHILE 91% OF AMERICANS DONT SUPPORT HUNTING AND TRAPPING, YET THE HUNTING AND TRAPPING LOBBY HAS THE POWER, WITH THEIR PAID OFF POLITICIANS AND BIG MONEY FAVORS, AMERICAS DIRTY LITTLE SECRET CONTINUES, AMERICAS OTHER WAR, AMERICAS WAR ON ITS WILDLIFE.
    I FIND IT AMAZING THAT THE MINORITY RULES THE MAJORITY, ISNT THIS A DEMOCRACY ?
    IM TIRED OF AMERICAN TAX DOLLARS SUBSIDIZING THE HUNTING AND TRAPPING INDUSTRY, AND WHO ELSE SUFFERS FROM THE HUNTING AND TRAPPING LOBBY ?
    MONEY GETS DIVERTED AND TAKEN AWAY FROM OUR MILITARY, OUR VETS, OUR POLICE, FIRE AND TEACHERS—ALL TO SUPPORT THE VERY PEOPLE THAT ARE RUINING OUR ECO TOURISM AND DESTROYING THE VERY FABRIC OF OUR WILDLIFE AND AMERICAN JOBS.
    ECO TOURISM BRINGS IN 10 TIMES MORE MONEY THAN HUNTING AND TRAPPING EVER WILL.
    WHILE HUNTERS ALWAYS CLAIM THAT THEIR MONEY GOES TO PRESERVING NATURE, I HAVE TO LAUGH AND SAY HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK WE REALLY ARE ?
    THE BIGGEST BUYERS OF AMERICAN PELTS, HIDES AND FURS IS COMMUNIST CHINA AND RUSSIA, IT MAKES SENSE TO GET STUPID, IGNORANT AND BLOOD THIRSTY AMERICAN HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS TO TRAP HUNT AND KILL OUR WILDLIFE AND DESTROY THE ECO TOURISM INDUSTRY,OUR WILDLIFE, AND JOBS.
    YOU CANT PAY THESE ANIMALS TO PROCREATE, OUR WILDLIFE ISNT SOME CHINESE ASSEMBLY LINE THAT KEEPS MASS PRODUCING, THEY ARE LIVING BREATHING CREATURES THAT DESERVE RESPECT AND A CHANCE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES TO THE FULLEST LIKE WE HOPE TO DO.

  5. We’ve already wiped out 40% of the wildlife population in the world. Killing animals only creates an imbalance in our ecosystem. When will people smarten up to the idea that hunters might just believe their own lies or say anything to get their hands on a rhino horn. Nevertheless killing is not conservation.

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