Fight hate with love and legal action

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As our collective consciousness awakens in the tentacles of colonialism, we find it in every corner, in the struggles for land and for life. We find it in the Great Lakes region now known as Wisconsin, where the Ojibwa (Anishinaabe) view the wolves (Ma’iingan) as sacred brothers and sisters whose fates are tied to their own. One would be hard pressed to disentangle hatred for one’s brother from oneself, and so the war on wolves is inextricably linked with colonialism. The hatred that my colleagues and I fight on a daily basis is a hatred directed at wildlife, the “others” most often represented by gleaming eyes in the dark, deep woods. By targeting native wildlife like wolves, this hatred also harms humans and the sacred relationships we have with life and the land. So I want to tell you a story about Wisconsin, about wolf and human families, and about fighting hate with love and lawsuits.

The powers granted to Wisconsin wildlife sit on the State Natural Resources Board (NRB), a governing body made up of members appointed by the governor. Recently this power has decided to ignore science, public commentary and any semblance of democratic process or legally required tribal consultation and wage war on wolves with dogs, snowmobiles, traps and other deadly methods. . Their goal is to eradicate up to 300 of Wisconsin’s remaining wolves, nearly half of the roughly 700 living and breathing souls lucky enough to have survived the February hunt during their breeding season. This brutal hunt wiped out the wolf population still recovering.

In this hunt, Pat Clark, a resident of Bear Dam, Wisconsin, and his family lost the neighboring wolf family who grew up with Clark’s children. Hunters pitting dogs against wolves hunted and shot seven of the nine members of the Lewiston Bog Pack. No need to share stories of hushed moments spying on pack members by following each other’s footsteps in the snow. More trail camera photos of puppies exploring the bog. In their place is a photo of eight people holding seven dead wolves with grinning emojis obscuring the true identities of men who feed on hate. More than seven wild lives were lost in this act.

In defense of the family, the land, the wilderness, and the intrinsic values ​​of wolves, my organization Project Coyote (an Island of Earth project), along with the plaintiffs Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy and Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife sued Wisconsin for their war on wolves. As our complaint explains, the policies sanctioned by the state of Wisconsin – both the quota of 300 wolves killed and Law 169, the law that requires the state to hold a wolf hunt every year – in a way ignore blatant not only wolves and their ecosystems, but also science, democracy, and sovereign tribal rights.

Wisconsinwar on science

The current wolf policy-making process in Wisconsin has ignored the best available science that articulates wolves’ contributions to healthy, functioning ecosystems and warns of the madness of controlling deadly predators. Extensive scientific literature describes how carnivores like wolves self-regulate based on prey and habitat availability and therefore do not require lethal management. Studies by Wisconsin researchers led by Dr. Adrian Treves, a member of the Coyote Project’s scientific advisory board, indicate that allowing legal logging increases illegal poaching and therefore humans have likely contributed to a drop from 27 to 33% of Wisconsin’s wolf population since the removal of federal protections late last year. . Additionally, surveys of howling this summer did not reveal puppies in many packs. After the February hunt during the wolf breeding season, it should come as no surprise. The dire population scenarios we are already seeing will only get worse with another hunt this year.

Wolves, like other leading predators, breed biodiversity. Ecologists have measured amazing trophic cascades, where top predators influence all levels of the food web and increase the diversity of species, from beavers to beetles and birds. Wolves mitigate the impacts of climate change on species such as bald eagles and crows by supplying scavengers with carrion all year round. Wolves even reduce collisions between deer and vehicles and save Wisconsin residents an estimated $ 10.9 million in damage each year. Because wolves reduce overabundant prey, they also reduce the transmission of diseases such as chronic wasting disease and economic and ecological damage to a myriad of landscapes. Killing wolves ignores and erases the many benefits wolves bring to complex socio-ecological systems.

Wisconsinwar on democracy

The NRB arbitrarily chooses a slaughter quota totally independent of any science. He ignored the many voices in favor of wolves. Despite the damning public comments against the culling of wolves and against the most cruelly cruel methods of slaughter – Wisconsin and Idaho are the only states that allow hunters to abuse dogs to slaughter wolves – the NRB does is not interested in evidence-based decision making that reflects reality science and public values.

The NRB gets major help in eroding any chance of a fair or just process in state law 169 which requires an annual wolf hunt, regardless of science, public sentiment, or common sense. Approving a hunt without public support or adequate scientific information is undemocratic and a violation of the public trust responsibilities that the NRB has as decision makers. This violates the confidence that constituents place in the law and in those that govern wildlife policies and management. It ignores numerous studies and public comment periods demonstrating that various Wisconsin residents, including farmers and hunters, value living wildlife as well as the contributions of carnivores to ecosystem health and functioning.

WisconsinThe war on tribal rights

Wisconsin’s wolf policy does not respect proper tribal consultation with sovereign Native American nations. Genuine consultation would take place in the same way that two sovereign nations negotiate policies in which both governments have an interest. Instead, the Sovereign Tribes are treated like another stakeholder (and if you’re not a hunter buying a license, you’re not an equal stakeholder in the politics of the State regarding wildlife) and simply informed of the decisions of the NRB.

In the case of the February 2021 hunt held during the wolf breeding season, the tribes were made aware of the quota of 200 wolves (and given that some gravid wolves would inevitably be among those 200, the death toll was surely much higher. raised). The Ojibwe tribes, under federal treaty laws, have claimed their right to 50 percent of the wolves in their ceded territories, which corresponds to 81 of the 200 wolves sentenced to die by the NRB. Given their sacred relationship, the Anishinaabe would not kill their 81 Ma’iingan siblings.

In about 60 hours, the hunters killed 218 wolves, exceeding the non-tribal quota (99 wolves) by 83 percent. This massacre therefore violates not only the sacred ecology of the earth, but also the sovereign rights of its people to relate to the earth and its inhabitants in an authentic and ethical manner.

Wisconsin’s War on Wolves is a war on its people, especially the disenfranchised voices who defend a moral and just life. But their voices will not be silenced. In response to the national war on wolves waged in Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana and other areas, the tribes sent a letter to the Home Secretary urging emergency list protections for wolves to stop the ongoing massacre and allow appropriate tribal consultation. On September 28, a delegation including Tehassi Hill, president of the Oneida Nation, Wisconsin’s largest tribe, will present a paper titled “The Wolf: A Treaty of Cultural and Environmental Survival” – seen as a new framework for addressing conservation of the world. wolf – to Home Secretary Deb Haaland.

As an Aboriginal artist, mother and narrator of the new short film Family, about the relationship between Aboriginal people and wolves, Crystle Lightning makes it clear in her recent op-ed in Native News Online: Cultures. “

Only hatred pits family members (dogs on wolves) against each other. Only hatred attacks the whole family and their neighbors (Anishinaabe, Ma’iingan, the Clark family and the Lewiston Bog Pack). Only hatred runs across the world to kill for no good reason. Willie Dunn recognized the pathos of the white settler and the state that conveys his hatred. When I hear Dunn’s words today, they are the only solace I can find in a world overwhelmed by hate. They remind me that only the love that unites us against the hatred that kills. Love and maybe the occasional trial.


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