2/15/2017 2:31:00 PM Looking beyond local; wolf management
Ron Kuecker Outdoors Columnist
It didn't take Liz Cheney long to introduce her first bill in the United States Congress. Elected as Wyoming's United States Representative in last falls election, where there is one more United States Senator than Congressman, she got to work on the grey wolf situation. The bill which is co-sponsored by our own Colin Peterson and Sean Duffy from Wisconsin would remove the wolf from the list of endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And, most important of all, it would prohibit judicial review of the delisting determination! That would support the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) previous, carefully considered, decision that the wolf in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes region no longer required ESA protection. That USFWS decision was then reversed by a Washington D.C. circuit court judge in 2014. Now, hunting and trapping of wolves under individual state management to control wolf populations is banned. The result of a single judges decision. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a radical organization of animal rights supporters. Do not confuse them with local animal rescue or animal shelter groups who do wonderful work. These local people, as I, believe strongly in animal welfare, as in, humane treatment of animals. An HSUS leader once said, if we could stop all hunting of animals in a moment, we would surely do it. So it is little wonder that the HSUS, headquartered in Washington D.C., would be the ones to initiate a suit in a sympathetic judicial district. They found it and the judges ruling stopped all hunting and trapping of wolves under state management in Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. She essentially said; I know more than the professional game managers of the entire USFWS and each individual state, I know more than the farmers and ranchers who are suffering livestock losses to wolf overpopulation, and I know more than the hunters, guides and district game managers that say, "we are okay with the target number of wolves but we now are seeing an overpopulation." Well, it may be a bit of a tussle getting this legislation passed, even though it has bipartisan sponsors and support. You can bet that the HSUS has plenty of money from their, only $19 a month, campaign for funds and that 95 percent of it is spent on salaries and benefits for their 550 employees and congressional lobbyists. But it must pass, this game management by litigation must stop, even though it is becoming more common in all areas of our society. DNR dollars The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is holding public meetings around the state to gain support for a legislative request to increase license fees for hunting, fishing, boating and even ginseng gathering and dealers licenses. I attended the one in Windom last week and came away feeling they are withholding important information from the people they need to support them. Their charts show a declining fund balance that will soon be in the red or below required amounts. Their pages included lists of services that would have to be eliminated if license fees aren't increased. Well, OK, we can all understand the increasing cost of doing business of all kinds, the DNR's included. But, as I stated at the meeting, we need to see a summary of income and expenses for the Game and Fish Fund so we can decide for ourselves on the issue. I served on enough boards in my lifetime to know that if a business manager brought a report like that to the board they would promptly be told, go back, do your workup and return when you have the information we need to make the decision. And, equally important, tell me where exactly does your money come from and where is it spent? Does deer license money go to pheasant research, who pays for invasive species control, just boat owners? Can we really afford some of the grants you dish out? Maybe it is time for new land acquisition from the legacy tax fund to also provide some financial help with management and care for that property rather than ever increasing license fees. As always, the state says here is some money for a new building, a new program or a new plot of land but you take care of it from now on. Well, you get my point by now. We need more info, in short form, not on a 50 character email address with many pages of long form in small print. P.S. What happened to all that federal excise tax on fishing equipment, firearms and ammunition that gets returned to each state? It seems to me that if the Minnesota DNR wants strong support from hunters and fishers for fee increases they need to give us more information, not just scare tactics. Eagles over Windom I glanced into our backyard in Windom over noon last Sunday. As usual, it was overrun by three species of squirrels. Then, suddenly, all dashed up trees hiding from something. In a second a big shadow passed over the ground and I knew what frightened the little tree rats. I stepped outside as it flew over again, a big white headed, white-tailed bald eagle. We have plenty of small hawks, and owls that fly through our trees but this was a first for the eagles of Windom.