Midwest Wolves
August 9, 2011

Is Hunting Wolves Key to Their Conservation?

Note: The following is a release from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. The two researchers quoted and acknowledged here try their best to paint a one-sided view of the wolf. Following this spotlight on their "research", be sure to read the LOBO WATCH take on all of this.

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Released: 8/8/2011 8:00 AM EDT
Source:University of Wisconsin-Madison

Newswise — MADISON – Hunters have been credited with being strong conservation advocates for numerous game species in multiple countries. Would initiating a wolf hunt invoke the same advocacy for the carnivores?

It`s a pressing question as gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in some western states this past May and are poised for delisting in 2012 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and other areas of the Midwest. But newly released public opinion surveys conducted in Wisconsin and the northern Rockies suggest that wolves are in a class by themselves and that existing deer, elk, and other game hunts are poor models for a potential wolf hunt.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Adrian Treves and Kerry Martin surveyed 2,320 residents of Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming – including both hunters and non-hunters – between 2001 and 2007. Their findings, appearing in the August issue of the peer-reviewed journal Society and Natural Resources, reveal hunter attitudes toward wolves that are largely inconsistent with stewardship.

Questions assessed a range of factors including acceptance of management policy, tolerance of the carnivores, willingness to kill a wolf illegally, adherence to hunt regulations, and expected financial support of conservation.

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"Hunters were some of the least tolerant of wolves among our respondents, and the closer you got to wolf range the less tolerant they were," says Treves, a professor in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. One issue may be that hunters often view wolves as competition for deer and other game. Opening a wolf hunt may not immediately shift that perception to viewing wolves as another game species to be conserved.

Treves was also surprised by the level of support expressed for a regulated wolf hunt among non-hunters and those living outside wolf range. In Wisconsin, for example, he says, "You find a surprising amount of support for a public regulated harvest of wolves even in places like Madison, Fond du Lac, or Sister Bay."

But these endorsements tend to be conditional, he cautions, and the conditions vary. For example, many people support the idea of a "sustainable" hunt – though "sustainable" was undefined in this context – or hunting as a way to reduce attacks on livestock and other conflicts between wolves and humans.

"To me that says that people see hunting as a tool for enabling coexistence," Treves says.

But the evidence simply isn`t there to indicate that hunting wolves would affect depredations of domestic animals. No depredation data were reported following a hunt in Idaho and Montana conducted during a window of time in 2009 when the animals were not federally protected. And though wolves have been hunted legally in Alaska for decades, the scarcity of domestic animals and difference in landscape make it nearly impossible to draw conclusions that would apply to the lower 48.

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A risk map Treves and others published in June shows that wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin are highly localized and attributable to a relatively small number of packs. The majority of packs do not cause problems despite living in close proximity to humans, which raises significant questions about the efficacy of a general hunt to alleviate perceived problems.

"The assumption that hunting and reducing the number of animals will reduce livestock losses would be proven false if hunters are targeting the wrong animals, such as animals in wilderness areas," he says, adding that it will be important to understand hunter motivations. "Wolves in wilderness areas don`t kill livestock, it`s the wolves on the edge in agricultural areas. Do hunters want to hunt in farmland? I`m not sure."

The uncertainty of how hunting would affect wolf populations could also become a legal issue, says UW-Madison law professor Stephanie Tai, citing a precedent of legal challenges of federal delisting decisions. "People have challenged delistings for a number of reasons, and some of those have been successful," she says. "Often, successful lawsuits bring up factors the Fish and Wildlife Service may not have considered, which could include the effect of allowing hunting."

The challenge, Treves says, is to balance human needs with the need to conserve wolves as an essential component of ecosystems. In a viewpoint piece published in the August issue of the journal BioScience, Treves and Jeremy Bruskotter, an environment and natural resources professor at The Ohio State University, present some possible scenarios for the future of wolf management in the U.S. Those scenarios include reclassifying the wolves as threatened, which would permit lethal control under certain circumstances, or enacting specific federal protections outside the Endangered Species Act, such as those currently in place for bald eagles, wild horses, and migratory birds.

They advocate geographically tailored approaches that will permit local-level control within a federal framework to strike a balance between wolves and humans. Sound long-term management can include a public regulated hunt, they say, but it will unquestionably require compromise.

"A public regulated harvest is a collaboration between hunters and the state, which requires give and take. I think the next few years in Wisconsin will reveal how well that collaboration works," says Treves.


LOBO WATCH On The Adrian Treves & Kerry Martin Wolf Research In Wisconsin...

As well meaning as they may be, these two researchers are typical of the academic types who have made a real mess of the wolf recovery project, not only in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, but all along the Northern Rockies as well. LOBO WATCH has done some research of its own, to delve into the background of Adrian Treves, and it has become very clear that this University of Wisconsin-Madison "researcher" has been pretty much a professional student the majority of his life. And it would not surprise us to learn that the brunt of his "research" has been made studying the works of others, and conducting polls - such as the 2,320 residents of Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming he and Martin supposedly surveyed between 2001 and 2007, to establish the base of the research spotlighted in the above release. (Photo of Adrian Treves at right.)

What is missing in this glowing report are the questions they asked, how they were asked, and just who was asked, and where. Going to the mall isn't the place to conduct a survey on wolves...or how hunters feel.

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Keep in mind, that Treves is clearly pro-wolf. Since 1999, he has worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and has written proposals on wolf management projects, and has served as a Technical Advisor on wolves for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He and his sidekick Kerry Martin are now trying their best to promote coexistence between wolves and humans. Any research they conduct on human-wolf interaction is sure to be biased and skewed in favor of making it appear not only possible, but desireable.

Now, if only they could get the wolves to cooperate.

If you carefully read the above University of Wisconsin-Madison release, instead of focusing on what Treves and Martin are promoting, ask yourself - what did they purposely avoid addressing? Note, they did not say anything about how hunting opportunites are quickly disappearing across the northern tier of the Midwest, where since 2007 deer harvests have been plummeting. In 2009, a number of counties in northern Wisconsin saw a 50- to 60- percent drop in the number of deer taken by the sportsmen who finance wildlife conservation in the state. And the significant drop in the number of deer taken by hunters can be directly associated with the significant growth in wolf numbers. Does this mean that wolves and deer cannot peacefully coexist? Elk sure can't live with wolves. Like the Northern Yellowstone, Lolo, Bitterroot and Gallatin herds of Montana and Idaho which have been destroyed to about 20-percent of what they were before non-native Canadian wolves were dumped there.

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The "research" conducted by these two touch on the loss of livestock to wolves, but fails to address other negative impacts wolves have on ranching, farming, those who work the land, rural residents and outdoor recreationists. In the West, the Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm carried and spread by more than 60-percent of all wolves tested continues to be a bigger and bigger issue. The thousands of microscopic tapeworm eggs deposited in every pile of wolf scat are easily spread by the wind. Cattle, deer, elk and moose ingest those eggs which have landed on blades of grass and other forage - and once inside, those eggs can produced fluid and tapeworm filled cysts on the lungs and liver. This reduces the stamina of animals infected. More and more, hunters are finding these cysts inside game harvested. Humans can also be affected, breathing in or ingesting eggs which the family pet may have brought in on their hair or fur.

Parasitologists have recently found that wolves are also a major carrier and spreader of Neospora caninum, a disease causing organism that can have a catastrophic impact on cattle production. The resulting neosporosis disease causes a high rate of fetus abortion.

One does not even have to read between the lines in the above release to determine that Treves has little regard for hunters - or the hunter's role in wildlife conservation. His remark..."Hunters were some of the least tolerant of wolves among our respondents, and the closer you got to wolf range the less tolerant they were." This very biased release also points out..."Their findings, appearing in the August issue of the peer-reviewed journal Society and Natural Resources, reveal hunter attitudes toward wolves that are largely inconsistent with stewardship."

The University of Wisconsin-Madison should be ashamed to be associated with such biased bigotry. So much for the research conducted by these two radical pro-wolf researchers. If anything, they're simply scamming a living off of Wisconsin taxpayers, while providing less than factual propaganda for those who support a pro-wolf agenda. - Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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