Tag Archives: hunters

Animal rights group to monitor Wisconsin bear hunters despite new law

An animal rights  group plans to monitor bear hunters in Wisconsin in the first test of the state’s new hunter harassment law.

Rod Coronado, the founder of group Wolf Patrol, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that members will document bear hunting activity in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

“Our goal is to help law enforcement and record illegal activity,” Coronado said. “Our goal isn’t to harass hunters, but we won’t hesitate to exercise our constitutional rights.”

This year’s bear hunting season is the first to include increased protections for hunters, anglers and trappers under legislation signed in April by Gov. Scott Walker. Starting Wednesday, hunters are allowed to use dogs to hunt bears.

Coronado said the “Right to Hunt Act” impinges on the rights of non-hunting citizens to engage with the public land. He said he believes the law would be deemed unconstitutional if challenged in court.

“A bear hunter’s right isn’t greater than any other person’s right,” Coronado said. “We have as much right to be in the public forest as they do.”

Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association president Carl Schoettel said the law will make it easier to enforce harassment by Wolf Patrol and cut back on dangerous encounters.

“We are against anything they try to do to prevent constitutionally protected hunting activity,” Schoettel said.

The law expands protections to hunters during training, scouting and baiting activities. It prohibits actions such as remaining in a hunter’s sight to obstruct and photographing, recording or confronting a hunter more than twice with the intention to interfere.

Department of Natural Resources chief warden Todd Schaller said first offenses are a civil citation with a fine up to $500. If a person violates the law two or more times within five years, he or she would face a maximum fine of $10,000 and a sentence of up to nine months

 

A year after Cecil killing, threats to African lions grow

Some call it the “Cecil the lion effect.”

A year ago, an American killed a lion in Zimbabwe in what authorities said was an illegal hunt, infuriating people worldwide and invigorating an international campaign against trophy hunting in Africa. Some conservationists, however, warn there are greater threats to Africa’s beleaguered lion populations, including human encroachment on their habitats and the poaching of antelopes and other animals for food, a custom that deprives lions of prey.

The death of Cecil at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park raised the profile of African lions on the “conservation radar,” but most substantive steps in lion conservation since then have been directed against trophy hunting rather than bigger problems depleting lion numbers, said Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a conservation group. Those measures include airline bans on the transport of parts of lions, rhinos, elephants and other wild animals shot in hunts.

In a report marking the anniversary of Cecil’s death in early July 2015, Panthera and two other conservation groups — WildAid and WildCRU — estimated that it would take at least $1.25 billion a year to effectively manage all protected areas where African lions roam.

The groups advocated more protection for lion habitats, measures to stimulate tourism and economic growth unrelated to hunting, and the supply of alternative sources of protein to local people to reduce demand for wild animal meat. Restrictions on hunting should be tightened as more data emerges on whether trophy hunting of some threatened species is even sustainable, the report said.

The number of African lions in the wild has dropped by more than 40 percent to about 20,000 in the past two decades, according to estimates. Lion populations in West, Central and East Africa have dropped, though some conservation success has been recorded in the southern part of the continent.

Cecil, who wore a GPS collar and was being monitored by researchers, was killed in a protracted hunt in which he was, according to authorities, lured out of the wildlife park and initially wounded by an arrow. The death unleashed an extraordinary outpouring of anger at Walter Palmer, the American dentist who shot the lion, and other foreigners with means who have traveled to Africa to kill wildlife.

The hunting industry countered that it has a conservation role, channeling revenue from hunting back into wildlife areas that would otherwise end up as farms for livestock.

“Each (wildlife) population needs its own management plan,” said Stewart Dorrington, who hosts bow and arrow hunters at a wildlife area three hours by car from Johannesburg. He said in a telephone interview that some anti-hunting activists favor a “blanket statement” about the ills of all hunting across Africa.

Dorrington, who does not have lions at his Melorani Safaris hunting operation, said many hunting areas in South Africa are struggling to get foreign clients at the moment.

In December, the United States made it harder for American big-game hunters to bring a lion head or hide into the country, announcing that it would protect African lions under the Endangered Species Act. At least 11,000 lions were logged in the trophy hunting trade between 2004 to 2013, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a conservation group.

Conservationists are also increasingly concerned about the use of lion bones to replace tiger bones in traditional medicine in parts of Asia, as well as for use in ceremonies in some African countries.

Hunter, the Panthera president, said lions are relatively easy to spot in some wildlife parks and leave the impression that their overall population is plentiful. Lions are social, active during the day and accustomed to vehicles, he said.

“They’re one of the top drawcards for tourists visiting Africa, in protected areas,” said Hunter, noting the death of Cecil had generated massive awareness about their plight. “I hope that it doesn’t go away.”

 

Thousands of trail cameras to catalog Wisconsin wildlife

Scientists have launched an ambitious new plan to catalog Wisconsin wildlife using thousands of trail cameras, a project that could help answer just how many deer and other creatures roam the state.

University of Wisconsin-Madison and Department of Natural Resources researchers hope to place as many as 6,000 motion-activated trail cameras across the state. Photos will be uploaded to a crowd-sourcing website; viewers will be asked to view them and try to identify the animals in them. The project, dubbed Snapshot Wisconsin, should provide the best information yet about Wisconsin wildlife and their movements, said Phil Townsend, a UW-Madison forestry professor and one of the project leaders.

“The important part is we’re going to be covering everywhere,” Townsend said. “We’re hoping to provide data to solve some of these (population) controversies.”

badger
Badger

Hunters have disputed the DNR’s deer population estimates and management goals for years, arguing the agency has overestimated the herd size and thus damaged its credibility. James Kroll, a Texas deer researcher Gov. Scott Walker hired to study the DNR’s deer management strategies, recommended in a 2012 report that the agency create a monitoring program that gives landowners and hunters a sense of ownership.

That same year Townsend learned NASA was looking to fund projects that would link its satellite imagery to crowd-sourced data to improve landscape management. He approached the DNR about partnering on a trail camera project that would fit NASA’s parameters for the funding. Spurred largely by Kroll’s recommendations, DNR officials agreed, said agency researcher Jennifer Stenglein.

Around the clock

The project calls for dividing the state into 9-square-mile segments and placing a camera in as many segments as possible, with the DNR reaching out to private landowners to get their participation.

The cameras will snap photos as animals wander by around the clock. The pictures will be uploaded to the crowd-sourcing Zooniverse website, where people from around the world help researchers with their projects. The site’s visitors can view the photos of Wisconsin wildlife and identify what they think the animal is with the help of a detailed field guide. Townsend’s graduate students and DNR experts will review photos that don’t get a consensus.

The DNR plans to enter the data into models that will estimate species population based on how often they appear on camera. Townsend’s team wants to juxtapose the information against NASA satellite imagery and build maps showing how animals move as seasons change and what environments they prefer.

The concept is similar to a trail camera crowd-sourcing project underway in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. That project includes only 225 cameras, however, according to the project website. Snapshot Wisconsin will be far larger, with more cameras covering far more ground, Townsend said.

Townsend and Stenglein said Snapshot Wisconsin’s data won’t be perfect since people with no scientific training who may have never been to Wisconsin or the United States will be making species identification. But the project will still provide more data on Wisconsin wildlife than ever before, they said.

“Six thousand trail cameras is like 6,000 observers being out in the woods looking at wildlife all the time, and that’s something we haven’t had,” the DNR’s Stenglein said.

Long-eared owl
Long-eared owl

The DNR has budgeted about $300,000 in Pittman-Robertson dollars — money from federal taxes on firearms and ammunition _ to purchase around 3,000 cameras over the next five years. NASA has committed $1 million, which researchers have used to set up the Zooniverse site and hire graduate students for the project, Townsend said.

Researchers have placed 560 cameras in the woods so far, with most of them in the Clam Lake and Black River Falls areas to record elk movement, Townsend said. The DNR is trying to reintroduce the species to the state by importing elk to both areas. Most of the rest of the cameras are in Iowa and Sawyer counties.

Jeff Schinkten, president of Sturgeon Bay-based Whitetails Unlimited, said the group is glad to see some effort to improve population estimates of Wisconsin wildlife.

“We are happy to see the DNR include the public in some of their plans as this can help with strained relationships,” Schinkten said in an email. “We are … cautiously optimistic that the (project) will provide worthwhile results.”

On the web:  Snapshot Wisconsin

State Republicans ban protesters from getting too close to hunters

The state Assembly has approved a bill that would prohibit people from bothering hunters in the woods, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can’t place such a restriction on anti-choice activists outside abortion clinics.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote April 11 with no debate. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote last month. The measure now goes to Gov. Scott Walker. 

The bill’s Republican authors say concerns about hunter harassment have grown since the Wolf Patrol, a group of animal rights activists, followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014.

The bill would expand the definition of interference with a hunter to include remaining in a hunter’s sight and photographing or confronting a hunter more than twice with the intention to interfere. The bill is SB 338.

The law could face legal challenges. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in McCullen v. Coakley that setting limits on where anti-abortion protesters can stand and what they can say violates their Constitutional right to free speech.

Legislature moves forward on fluorescent pink clothing for hunters

As the legislative session draws to a close amid news that Wisconsin lost 10,000 jobs last year, the most since the Great Recession, the state’s lawmakers are hard at work on a bill that would allow hunters to wear fluorescent pink in order to attract more women. Current law mandates that at least half of each article of clothing that gun deer hunters wear above the waist must be blaze orange. The bill would allow hunters to wear swap their blaze orange for fluorescent pink.

The Senate’s agriculture committee approved the bill on a 7–2 vote on Wednesday, clearing the way for the full Senate to take up the measure.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote in November. Full Senate approval would send the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

It wasn’t clear, however, whether Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, would bring up the bill up for a vote. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiring about the bill’s chances.

The measure’s authors include a mix of Republicans and minority Democrats — a rare, if insignificant, example of bipartisanship. But Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, one of the bill’s chief Assembly authors, has sold the bill as a way to attract more women to hunting — a stance that has drawn the ire of at least some women hunters who see the measure as sexist.

The committee approved the bill with next to no discussion. Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-Hudson, made the only comment, saying she was casting a “reluctant” yes as she voted. She had said during a public hearing on the bill last week that it shouldn’t be about attracting women to the sport.

She said after the committee vote that the bill creates the perception that lawmakers believe people decide to hunt based on the color of the clothes they can wear in the field. She said she decided to vote for it after Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, another key Assembly sponsor, insisted during the public hearing that the bill is really about giving hunters options.

“I don’t see this as a way to get women to hunt,” Harsdorf said.

Republican Sens. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Devin LaMahieu of Oostburg cast the two dissenting votes. Tiffany said he had heard from constituents who felt the bill was pandering to women and was sexist. He said, though, that his vote wasn’t an emphatic “no” and he’s anxious to see if blaze pink might be a good thing.

LaMahieu called into the meeting and hung up when it adjourned. He also didn’t immediately return a message left at his office. During the public hearing he mentioned that the only constituents who contacted him about the bill were women who asked whether the measure was a joke.

A look at bills the Wisconsin Legislature is considering: From legalizing conceal-and-carry switchblades to banning fetal tissue research

Wisconsin lawmakers are due to resume the 2015-16 legislative session with a Senate floor debate on Jan. 12.

Majority Republicans are sifting through an agenda that includes bills overhauling the state’s civil service system, banning research on tissue from aborted fetuses and banning transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Here’s a look at some other proposals Republicans are trying to push through before the session ends in April:

NUCLEAR POWER: Lifts Wisconsin’s moratorium on new nuclear power plants. The bill’s author, Rep. Kevin Peterson, R-Waupaca, says nuclear power is a clean, affordable option as utilities work to meet new federal greenhouse gas rules. The Assembly is set to vote on the proposal on Jan. 12.

DRUNKEN DRIVING: Republicans are pushing a pair of bills that would require the state Department of Transportation to strip repeat drunken drivers of their licenses for at least a decade and increase maximum prison sentences for repeat offenders.

MANAGED FORESTS: Allows landowners in the state’s managed forest program to close off as much land as they want to the public while still enjoying property tax breaks. Right now, landowners who enroll in the program get huge property tax breaks if they keep their land open to the public for recreation and abide by a timber management plan. Non-industrial landowners can close only 160 acres to the public. Property owners complain the bill doesn’t let them lease closed land to hunters.

FIGHTING HEROIN: Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, has four bills designed to help curb prescription drug abuse in hopes of slowing heroin abuse. Dubbed the Hope Agenda, the bills would require opiate dispensers to enter prescriptions into a statewide database within 24 hours; require police who find an opiate prescription at an overdose scene to enter it into the database; require methadone and pain clinics to register with the state; and require methadone clinics to report staffing rations, patients receiving the medication and average mileage a person travels to the clinic to the state. The Assembly is set to vote on the package Jan. 12.

SCHOOL REFERENDA: School districts would be barred from bringing failed spending referendums back to the voters for a year. Supporters say the measure is about protecting taxpayers from districts’ repeated attempts to pass referendums. School officials are strongly opposed to the proposal, saying legislators shouldn’t tie their hands.

BLAZE PINK: Allows gun hunters to wear fluorescent pink rather than blaze orange. Supporters say the measure will encourage more women to take up hunting and give apparel manufacturers a boost. The Assembly passed the bill in November. The Senate has yet to vote.

HUNTER HARASSMENT: Prohibits people from harassing hunters by remaining in a hunter’s sight, photographing a hunter, using a drone to photograph a hunter or confronting a hunter more than twice with the intent to interfere with or impede their activities. Republicans say they’re worried about hunters’ safety after the Wolf Patrol, a group of animal rights activists, followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014. Opponents say the measure might violate nature lovers’ free speech rights.

WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: Increases state compensation for the wrongly convicted to $50,000 for every year behind bars with a total payout of $1 million with adjustments for inflation every five years. Wisconsin currently offers people who are exonerated $5,000 per year of incarceration up to $25,000.

LEGALIZING SWITCHBLADES: The Assembly passed a bill that would legalize switchblades and allow people to carry them as concealed weapons in October. The bill is now in the Senate.

Wisconsin lawmakers forward bill to prevent activists from filming hunters violating laws

Wisconsin lawmakers edged closer last week to passing a bill that would prohibit animal rights activists from following, photographing or videotaping hunters in the woods.

The Assembly’s natural resources committee passed the Republican-authored bill on a 14-1 vote despite questions about whether it is necessary or constitutional.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Massachusetts law creating a 35-foot buffer zone between protesters and abortion clinics, saying that it violated the protesters’ free speech rights, even though they were often terrorizing women, many of whom were already in an emotional crisis.

But while the committee’s minority Democrats questioned whether the bill might violate nature lovers’ free speech rights, only one of them, Rep. Diane Hesselbein of Middleton, ultimately voted against the proposal.

The bill also would add dog training, baiting and feeding — all controversial practices that many hunters regard as inhumane and “cheating” to the list of protected hunting activities. It would expand the definition of interference to include remaining in a hunter’s sight, photographing a hunter, using a drone to photograph a hunter and confronting a hunter more than twice with the intention of interfering with or impeding their activity. First-time violators would face a $500 fine. Subsequent offenses would carry steeper fines as well as jail time.

Hunters have been complaining of harassment since the Wolf Patrol, a group of animal rights activists, followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014 looking for illegal activity. The federal government placed Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list last year, ending Wisconsin wolf hunts for the moment. But now bear hunters fear that activists will come after them next.

Still, it’s unclear whether hunter harassment is really a problem in Wisconsin. State law already prohibits stalking and interfering with hunting, fishing or trapping activities.

During a hearing about the bill last month, its author, Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, pointed to anecdotes about people making noise under tree stands to ruin hunts as a reason it’s needed. But he didn’t cite a single instance where someone had been convicted of harassing or threatening a hunter and he didn’t respond to repeated messages seeking clarification of that point.

A state Department of Natural Resources spokesman had no data immediately available when asked if the agency has any record of hunter harassment convictions. Wolf Patrol representatives say the group has never actually impeded or interfered with anyone.

The bill’s opponents say the state’s stalking laws already protect hunters and blocking people from watching, approaching or photographing hunters on public land would violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.

Republicans on the committee joined with Democrats last week and adopted an amendment from Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, which clarifies that someone would have to intentionally interfere with a hunting activity to be convicted. But Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Stevens Point Democrat who voted in favor of the bill, still pressed the committee’s attorney, Larry Konapacki, for his opinion on whether the bill would withstand a constitutional challenge.

“That is a really difficult question,” Konopacki replied. “This is something that might be tested at some point.”

NRA pushes bill making it a crime to photograph or videotape Wisconsin hunters

The National Rifle Association and state gun and hunting groups are backing GOP legislative proposals that would make it a crime to photograph or videotape hunters on public land in Wisconsin.

Senate Bill 338 and Assembly Bill 433 were introduced by Sen. Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake. Jarchow said his bills were in response to complaints from hunters who felt a group called Wolf Patrol was harassing them. The group documents trapping and hunting activities, and has focused this year on baiting bears. The measures call for fines of up to $10,000 and nine months in jail.

The bills have drawn support from the NRA, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, and the NRA’s state chapter, which is called Wisconsin Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs & Educators. The proposals are opposed by the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to being an influential lobbying force on state and federal pro-gun policies, the NRA has spent millions of dollars to influence state and federal elections. In Wisconsin, the NRA spent $3.6 million between 2008 and 2014 on independent expenditures to support Republican and conservative candidates for statewide offices and the legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. About $3.5 million, or 96 percent, of the NRA’s election spending between 2008 and 2014 in Wisconsin was to support GOP Gov. Scott Walker. The NRA spent the bulk of its electioneering war chest on broadcast ads and mailings.

To view the NRA’s outside electioneering activities, how much it spent and the candidates it supported and opposed in elections between 2008 and 2014, please check out the Democracy Campaign’s NRA profiles – here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

In addition to its outside spending on behalf of candidates, the NRA Political Victory Fund, which is the organization’s political action committee (PAC), made another $49,825 in direct contributions to candidates between 2008 and June 2015.

Since 2008, the NRA’s PAC and corporation have spent about $1,700 on independent expenditures to help elect Moulton and the PAC directly contributed another $500 to his campaign.

Activist: Wisconsin DNR seeks to eradicate endangered wolf pack based on a fake attack story

In the wake of a discredited claim of an alleged “attack” against a hunter and NRA cheerleader last month in Adams County, the Wisconsin DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are slaughtering protected wolves in the 4,965-acre Colburn Wildlife Area.

The eradication has been ordered despite the fact that Great Lakes wolves were relisted last year under the Endangered Species Act, thus making it illegal to hunt the animals.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel outdoor writer Paul Smith brought both the falsehood of the attack claim and the subsequent wolf hunt to light despite apparent efforts by the Wisconsin DNR and USFWS to keep both a secret for as long as possible.

If wolves cannot live in areas designated for wildlife then where can they live? The reality is that wolf-hating states like Wisconsin and others will allow no more than a token population and will use any excuse to kill them in conjunction with the anti-wolf USFWS.

One of the prime reasons that a federal judge relisted wolves in the Great Lakes was because of inadequate “management” plans that kept the species in isolated pockets. It seems that, especially in Wisconsin, the moment wolves migrate out of their isolated pockets in the northern part of the state they must be eradicated. This is shameful and a direct affront to the ESA and wildlife advocates. It’s bad enough that for three years wolf haters were allowed to go deep into wolf habitat, trap, arrow, hound, bait, and destroy entire wolf packs. Now they are eradicating packs because of one alleged incident involving a convicted wildlife rule violator that just happened to run right to an NRA propaganda magazine right after the non-attack.

The Wisconsin DNR and other anti-wolf government agencies and killing cartels have been looking for ways to continue the eradicating wolves following the December 2014 re-listing. It looks like they found their tactic.

This one non-“attack” and the response to eradicate a wolf population in a wildlife area opens the door for every single anti-wolf element in the state to claim other non-“attacks” and then the WI DNR and USFWS will come in with traps and guns blazing. This is shameful but unfortunately a common practice used by anti-wolf states to keep the populations isolated to small pockets and prevent them from migrating.

We see this also in Wyoming, where they have been practicing an “under the radar” eradication, Minnesota, where keeping wolves in one area is written into their “management plan,” and in Wisconsin where anti-wolf groups like the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, SCI, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation seek to have open eradication in the Southern two-thirds of the state.

Adams County, toward the southern end of Wisconsin’s wolf range, has had two wolf packs since at least 2010, according to DNR reports.

MacFarland said the Adams County wolves have not caused problems in the past.

As a result of the recent wolf encounter, however, the DNR added a notation to its 2015 list of wolf depredations and other incidents. The Oct. 1 update includes a check mark in Adams County for a “non-livestock threat.”

Two confirmed cases of wolf depredations on livestock have occurred this year in the southern half of Wisconsin, one each in Columbia and Crawford counties.

Nellessen’s incident and the agencies’ handling of it have drawn added attention because, if confirmed, it would have been the first verified wolf attack on a human in Wisconsin.

Since their investigation and interviews found no physical contact with the wolves and no injury to the self-professed “victim,”  law enforcement officials did not classify it as an attack.

It’s quite amazing that the only people ever “attacked” or “threatened” by wolves are hunters and others who hate the species. Why don’t we hear about hikers having non-“attacks” or being “threatened?” I and other wildlife advocates can see right through the game being played by anti-wolf government agencies and the killing cartels that pull their strings. They are frustrated that Congress hasn’t yet been able to strip protections from wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming, so they are coming up with alternate near-eradication and harassment plans to keep wolves at bare minimum numbers without attracting too much attention to their real motives. They use fragile excuses like “threats to human safety” and “livestock depredation” to continue with their eradication policies.

If wolves aren’t even allowed to be seen or live in wildlife areas, then where can they exist? Even in the areas where they are “allowed” to live, such as in our National Forests, they are still subjected to non -stop harassment by thousands of loose hounds, traps, and being baited into one of the almost 70,000 bear bait piles and 5 MILLION gallons of bait spread around the northern 1/3 of the state.

Following decades of massive deer overpopulation and the non-stop deer killing seasons the deer population in Wisconsin appears to finally be reaching a reasonable level that the ecosystem can support. Unfortunately that’s not good enough for the great white hunters in Wisconsin and the DNR. Brutal winters, endless killing seasons, vehicle crashes, and disease have allegedly brought deer numbers down slightly over the past decade and of course the great white hunters blame the few hundred wolves in the state, despite facts to the contrary. Add in the constant whining by the bear hounders, and it’s obvious what the endgame of the puppet Wisconsin DNR is.

Wolves will pay the price despite the DNR admitting through their own studies that wolf predation on deer (you know, their natural diet) is minuscule at best. Despite that fact, wolves will be pushed to near eradication in spite of their current ESA protections through the use of the loophole that says killing can occur to “specimens which pose a demonstrable but non-immediate threat to human safety.”

Please contact the Wisconsin DNR and USFWS to express your outrage at this eradication operation and the fact there was no action taken in what they admit wasn’t an “attack.” If anymore evidence was needed to see the true intentions of the Wisconsin DNR and the Dan Ashe-run USFWS to bring wolves back to the brink this is all one needs. If they can thumb their noses at the federal judge and ESA and use loopholes to continue their anti-wolf tactics. What’s the point of even having an ESA if a “protected” species can be killed just for being seen?

This species means as much alive to us as it does dead to a tiny minority. It’s time we make that very clear.

See also: GOP pushes law to protect armed hunters from the cameras of animal rights activists

To protest this new strategy of skirting the law protecting wolves, contact:

Wisconsin DNR:

David MacFarland
Carnivore specialist
715-365-8917

Email: 

USFWS:

Regional Director: Tom Melius
Deputy Regional Director: Charlie Wooley

Mailing Address:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458

Phone: 612-713-5360
Fax: 612-713-5280
TTY: 1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay) 
Email:

Edited and reprinted from ourwisconsinourwildlife.wordpress.com. 

GOP pushes law to protect armed hunters from animal rights activists with cameras

Wisconsin hunters testified before two legislative committees today about their fears of animal rights activists harming them or their dogs.

The testimony came in support of a Republican-backed bill designed to outlaw the Wolf Patrol, a group of animal rights activists who followed and filmed wolf hunters in Wisconsin and Montana in 2014 looking for illegal activity.

Although the federal government placed Great Lakes wolves back on the endangered species list in December, ending Wisconsin’s wolf hunts for the moment, bear hunters now fear the Wolf Patrol will target them for harassment.

The Senate and Assembly’s sporting heritage committees held separate hearings on the measure. Dozens of people showed up to speak, many dressed in camouflage and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association sweatshirts.

“I don’t want someone waiting at the end of my cabin driveway waiting to follow me around,” Robyn Prince, a Clear Lake bear hunter, told the Senate committee. “This is not OK. They’re taking it above and beyond.”

The bill’s primary Assembly sponsor, Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, said he’s heard horrible stories about activists making noise while standing in front of bait piles placed by hunters to lure unsuspecting animals within close reach to be killed. He complained that activists have said mean things about hunters online, but he couldn’t cite instances in which activists were convicted of committing violent acts against hunters.

Wisconsin law already prohibits interfering with a hunting, fishing or trapping-associated activity. The bill would add scouting, dog training and baiting and feeding as hunting activities. It also would expand the definition of interference to include engaging in a number of activities more than twice with intent to impede or interfere with a hunter, including remaining in a hunter’s visual proximity, photographing a hunter, using a drone to photograph a hunter and confronting a hunter.

A first offense would be punishable by a $500 fine. A second offense within five years would be punishable by up $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail. Subsequent offenses would be punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in jail.

Opponents argued that the state’s existing stalking laws should protect hunters. They insisted that prohibiting people from observing and taking pictures of hunters on public land would be unconstitutional and could have a chilling effect on the Department of Natural Resources’ tip hotline, which citizens use to report illegal hunting.

Patricia Randolph of Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife, which works to educate lawmakers about wildlife abuse, told the Assembly committee that the bill creates a double standard. People can’t photograph hunters but hunters can photograph and bask in the glory of their kills with impunity, she said.

“This is the kind of hell this legislation protects,” Randolph said. “You want us to just stand by idly and just watch you guys kill everything? I don’t think so.”

Wolf Patrol issued a statement Wednesday evening saying no one has presented any evidence the organization has impeded or interfered with hunting or trapping. Hunters and lawmakers are trying to foster fear of the group to justify legislation that criminalizes monitoring activities on public lands, the organization said.

The hearings came less than a week after Jarchow and Moulton introduced the proposal, but its prospects look unclear. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Fitzgerald will review the measure but it won’t come to the floor in that chamber before the fall floor session ends next week.

Rep. Al Ott, R-Forest Junction, chairman of the Assembly sporting heritage committee, said the panel may vote on the measure next month after the fall floor session ends. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, had no immediate comment.