Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Who Wrote WI Wolf Hunt Bill? Insiders Said They Didn't Know

Republicans in Wisconsin like writing legislation in secret.

* They had attorneys and Legislative staffers write the most recent redistricting bill in private law firm offices  - - earning a tongue-lashing from a US District Court Judge appointed by Ronald Reagan.

* They let an out-of-state coal mining company work behind closed doors to help write the iron ore mining bill.

* And you can put the 2012 wolf hunt law on the list of Wisconsin legislative legerdemain, according to comments in minutes of a public, all-day, April 21, 2012 Wisconsin Wolf Stakeholders Committee meeting in Wausau.

I received a copy of the minutes from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources pursuant to a recent Open Records request. The committee advises the DNR on wolf hunting issues.

Twenty representatives from the DNR, and a wide variety of environmental, Native American, conservation, animal, hunting, and other organizations attended the meeting, along with DNR facilitators and additional staffers.

Up for discussion: wolf hunting issues and, specifically, implementation of the wolf hunt law that had been recently approved in 2012 by the Legislature. 

(The 2013 hunt will allow a substantially larger wolf kill, though one area of discussion at the meeting - - the use of dogs in the hunt - - is still hung up in the courts.)

Among the many remarks during the stakeholders' pro-and-con/give-and-take were several that expressed dissatisfaction with the way the bill was drafted, communicated to stakeholders and approved by the Legislature. 

There is a published report linking the drafting to Wisconsin hunting and sporting organizations.

I have pulled out some of the comments, below, because I think they speak to the larger issue of secret legislating and a related issue - - the disregard of scientific input:

From Al Brown, representing the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a citizens' organization that advises the DNR:

How was this bill written? Conservation Congress, DNR, NRB [Natural Resources Board], biologists, etc. were not consulted. Who wrote this law? Somebody other than our legislators wrote it. Legislative process should have been more open regardless of the side you're on. Upset over the process.
From Randall Wollenhaup, representing the Stockbridge-Munsee Nation:
In addition to written comments to be submitted: Beyond those comments, I want to point out that there was a lack of consult with tribes or tribal biologists, not one of them was consulted. When we were notified we only got 48 hours notice.
From Gloriann Klein, Wolf Info Now:
Echo thoughts already voiced. No sound science used. Expert wolf biologists not consulted. Lack of participation and input has been dictated to them. It is not about hunting of delisting but about the process.
From Peter David, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission:
This is not an official GLIFWC statement. I want to make clear that this process does not replace state-tribe meetings. I am here in part to hear what the other partners have to say. To DNR- concerned with certain echelon of DNR. Wolves are a species that the Ojibwe see their future entwined with. There is not time to talk about issues with bill (today). Saw report from Bureau of Wildlife Management about partnerships then watched process with wolves and the disregard for all partners. The DNR Administration opted to intentionally disregard staff, Science Committee, Stakeholders group, Natural resources Board, and the Conservation Congress. Three days before bill still no notice from DNR on website. particularly unconscionable that among all these groups that the Tribes were not contacted or consulted. Tribes can take 1/2 of the harvest in the ceded territory. Tribes need to be fully engaged. Tribes and GLIFWC on and off reservation. I strongly suggest that this group (Stakeholders) function as it was designed to. If at the June meeting DNR comes with issues decided then that will be another nail in the coffin of partnerships with the Tribes.
From Laurie Groskopf, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association:
The WBHS [blog editing note: typo?] was not involved with drafting legislation. What organization helped draft law? Lobbyist for hound groups? Unknown.
From Gloriann Klein, Wolf Info Now:
What we have heard today is that people are frustrated with circumventing the scoentific process. The experts not consulted. Reiterate tha tthe use of calls, baiting, etc., we are unclear how this will work. Cable restraints are an issue. So many unanswered questions. We know that predator/prey relationships are intertwined but not considered as part of the legislation. Need reason to backup actions. Other states will follow our example. Need to base it on science.
So ask yourself: why would these people have been kept in the dark, and what does that say for the general public?


Anonymous said...

“Whoever worked with the legislators on the bill — it’s clear the legislators wanted (the wolf population) brought down,” [Bill Vander Zouwen, the DNR’s ecology section chief] said. “If we start talking about higher [wolf culling] goals, it will make people nervous because of the political pressure out there.”

Vander Zouwen said he didn’t know who was applying this pressure: “Nobody has really told me who those influential parties are.”

Anonymous said...

Sorry--the 2nd set of brackets at my 7:22am post should have said [wolf population]. My error.

But another thought: since this legislation seems to materialize out of thin air, does that suggest the influence of ALEC?