Wolves put down in Wisconsin

Wolves put down in Wisconsin

By Rod Myers, Naturalist

Four members of a northwest Wisconsin wolf pack were killed for destroying livestock. The livestock kills were confined to one farm, but the predation has gone on there for nearly 10 years. The government has been compensating the farm’s owners for each cow killed by wolves, but the two brothers who own the heavily wooded farm say they should be paid more. Most of the bovines killed are calves taken in the late spring, and the state government pays the market value of a calf. However, the farmers have argued for years that they should get paid for what the animal would be worth in the fall when it’s much larger.

The wolf has been downlisted from endangered to threatened, which gives more leeway for destroying livestock-killing wolves. “Adrian Wydeven, Wisconsin’s state wolf biologist, wants wolves taken off the threatened list,” said John Haack, retired DNR biologist from northwest Wisconsin. “If wolves are taken off the threatened lists, farmers can destroy problem wolves. But they can no longer be compensated for wolf damage to livestock, so economics may make farmers do a 180 urging that the wolf be given some protective status.”

This one farm has been hit hard in Burnett County. The farm actually borders the Burnett and Douglas County line. The farm is very brushy; it started out as a large forest, but it was cut, and the lumber was sold. Then the area was fenced off, and cattle were added. They fed on the rapid aspen growth that appears after clear cutting. After so many years of foraging, some of the land becomes grassy, but most of the vegetation outcompetes the cattle and becomes very brushy, or like a short forest. A farm that wild in tree growth is an open invitation for forest-loving wolves, who find spring calving too good to be true.

Another smorgasbord factor is that cows ready to give birth on this particular farm head for the brushiest areas to drop calves. “It’s like the cows are turning into moose, except they have no huge antlers to protect them. The wolves feel safe in the concealment of the brush and have little trouble finding and killing their veal meal,” said Haack.

These particular brothers chose to farm their land in this style of cut once and let it go wild, knowing full well the chances their animals would take. When the dinner table was set and after the dinner was served, the brothers became champions and spokesmen for the anti-wolf movement.

These northern farmers became poster boys for the state farm bureau. I, for one, question their motives and morality. I believe they are sacrificing their animals for attention. It’s time that Wisconsin pass better laws to regulate cattle habitat for the good of the cattle, the surrounding wildlife, and the Wisconsin taxpayer.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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