Meeting Scott Walter of the Wisconsin DNR

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From the Wisconsin Wolf Facts:

The WI Wolf Facts group met with new DNR Large Carnivore Manager Scott Walter March 20.  The meeting was very well attended by farm representatives, including Ryan and Cheri Klussendorf, Steve Suchmel, Jack Johnson, Tom Daigle, and Steve Boe, local affairs coordinator for the Farm Bureau and Ashleigh Calaway, district coordinator for the Farm Bureau.  Laurie, Pat Quaintance, Dick Krawze, and Mike Brust also were there.  I want to thank everyone for being at this meeting.  Pat came down from northern Bayfield Co. and both Dick and Mike had other meetings earlier in the day, Mike in Horicon.  And they took the time and made the effort to attend.  Shows how much people still care about this old, tired issue!

WI Wolf Facts had a great advancement recently in obtaining our IRS non-profit status.  Thanks entirely to Matt Lallemont.  More on that later.

Dick Krawze has a long history with wolf management and is currently the Forest Co. Chair for WI Conservation Congress.  He related how Dick Thiel, one of the first wolf managers for WI, in 1987, said the state could not really support more than 60 – 100 wolves if we were lucky.  He also heard David Mech, one of the world’s most experienced wolf researchers, say only five rather limited pockets of prime wolf territory exist in WI.  Both thought Wisconsin’s wolf numbers would be forever limited.  They didn’t lie.  They were just wrong.  Dick Krawze also noted that hunting real estate values have plummeted due to predator pressure on deer.

Scott responded that research shows the wolves don’t impact the deer herd overall.  The group responded that Jerry’s chart on the WI Wolf Facts web site, showing wolf consumption of deer versus human take, shows different.  We encouraged Scott to take a look at research done on a large land base level to not be reflective of the situation where wolves are prevalent.  Also, do researchers know the ground situation, or are they sitting in Madison working statistics?  As a person new to wolf management and bear management, it will be important to see whether he repeats what others at UW and within the DNR tell him rather than looking further into the details.  I told him the “what’s a heifer?” story about Adrian Treves, PhD at Madison (Carnivore Coexistence Center Director).

All farmers present told about their negative experiences with wolves on their farms.  For example, Klussendorf experienced harassments from wolves over a long period that drove their animals outside the fences.  This resulted in a civil citation from the county and $30,000 in extra expenses as a result of not being able to pasture heifers.

Pat and Mike filled in real life problems with the tracking program and wolves in our back yards.  Dick told about his encounter with Eco-terrorist, Rod Coronado, who is a volunteer tracker for the DNR.  Scott didn’t have any progress to report about getting Rod off the volunteer tracking group.  They are more afraid of getting sued by the anti’s than by hunters and farmers.

Scott said the DNR is working on ways to restructure the Wolf season.  He said the temporary rules have expired, and new rules need to be promulgated.  He sees the process involving more citizen input similar to the CDACs.  He seems to like the idea of the Sporting Dogs group and Farm Bureau joining the DNR Wolf Advisory Committee.  But he did not report that the Advisory Committee will resume meeting, even though other species without harvest seasons regularly meet.  He said he supports the DNR gaining the authority to use a full array of lethal control.

Scott took lots of notes during the meeting.  He did less talking and more listening.  I thought the interactions were quite positive, and he is certainly a likable person who comes across as a regular rural guy.  I have already received positive feedback from some of the group about their first impression.

It took a lot of effort for Scott to come to Medford and meet with us, particularly because he is making maple syrup at his farm in Richland Co.  It would be very beneficial to our cause if each and every one of us schedule an individual meeting with him and continue to promote our interests and educate him, because he has little experience with wolves, similar to the last wolf manager.

We are all very disappointed with the failure of the latest delisting attempt.  I heard from a knowledgeable informant that prior to the rider being removed from the budget bill, Sen. Johnson’s office had called to tell people to call Baldwin’s office because she alone had the power to retain the rider.  I knew the blame game was beginning.  Clearly, Johnson’s office already knew the rider was history.

We make the calls, over and over, but it is clear that all parties don’t have our interest at heart and are using the wolf issue as PR for themselves or blaming the other side.  They use the wolf issue as a negotiating tool to gain things they care more about.  Truth is, they all are in the camp of Rep. Paul Ryan, whose office wrote Eric a letter telling him since Eric was not from Ryan’s district, Ryan did not care what he thinks about wolves.  For me, it’s a POX on all of them!

Remember, the previous delisting without court review happened while Obama was president and the Democrats had a wider margin in the Senate (April 2011).  It took the governor’s of Idaho and Montana (one Republican, one Democrat) threatening the feds they would stop managing wolves to make that rider pass!  And delisting nationwide was attempted by the USFWS Service during Obama’s tenure.   But this effort was blocked by the courts.  I don’t have any answers, but plenty of blame for all our elected representatives.

Let’s continue to hold their feet to the fire and not accept the blame game.  Laurie