WildLife Wednesday: Anti-Hunters Detached from Reality

Drew YoungeDyke MUCC Field Manager Drew YoungeDyke
MUCC Field Manager
This past Sunday, you probably saw the Budweiser Super Bowl ad where four Clydesdales come to the rescue of a lost puppy by scaring away a wolf that looked like it might eat it. For the vast majority of well-adjusted Americans, this ad represented the friendship between a cute puppy and the horses. But for anti-hunters, this represented a demonization of wolves, because a wolf would never harm a dog, right? Wrong. Just ask a Yooper with a backyard.
Most of the usual suspects from PETA to the NRDC and Center for Biological Diversity commented on the ad, as well as several of their followers. One anti-hunter even said on Twitter, "wolves are in the same breed as dogs they don't attack or eat each other." Seriously, you can't make this stuff up (unless you're an anti-hunter, in which case, apparently, you can make up a lot).



This detachment from reality was present in a more dangerous form in a petition filed recently by anti-hunting groups to list Great Lakes wolves as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act instead of "endangered." They tout this as a compromise, but the reality is that wolves are neither threatened nor endangered: they're recovered.
dogsscreen_5qjypxp7_oelh31fd We're rooting for the puppy. Anti-hunters? Not so much. (Still from the ad)
For instance, in Michigan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set a minimum recovery goal of 200 wolves; they surpassed that over a decade ago, and now number over three times that many in the low point of their yearly population cycle. A species that triples its recovery goal is not endangered or threatened: it's recovered.
The only reason that wolves are back on the Endangered Species List is that a lone federal judge in Washington, DC made the illogical ruling that the USFWS can only add species to the list using the Distinct Population Segment rule, but not remove them. There is no dispute that wolves have recovered in the western Great Lakes, and let's not forget that there are about 60,000 gray in Canada, so let's not pretend that the species itself is endangered.
They know this, though. This petition is a hypocritical red herring. They know that legislation is already being considered on the federal level to de-list wolves where they are recovered in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. MUCC fully supports this approach. The states are more than capable of managing wolves and keeping their numbers well above recovery goals. The professional biologists at the state agencies are more than capable of determining the management techniques to be used, including hunting. That's why HSUS and its allies are throwing this petition at the wall and hoping it sticks, because it would prevent any hunting of the species. You see, they don't actually care about the species, they only care that the management technique of hunting is never used, because they oppose hunting and wolf hunting is their low-hanging fruit for attacking hunting rights.
Screenshot from the ad. Screenshot from the ad.
And let's not forget that is was these same groups who have used legal loopholes in the Endangered Species List to put wolves back on the list time and again, against the recommendations of federal and state biologists. This listing prevents even minimal management to protect livestock and pets from wolf depredations. If someone did have a puppy get lost and encountered a wolf in the same position as the Clydedales in the ad, the pet owner would not legally be able to anything about it.
The anti-hunters' opposition to wolf hunting, though, is based on another detachment from reality; or rather a deliberate misconception that they're trying to perpetuate. Throughout their petition, they refer to the bounty system state governments had for wolves back when they were purposely trying to remove them. These systems ended decades ago; in fact, MUCC was one of the leading proponents for ending that system in Michigan. But that's not how states manage wolves anymore, and that's not what regulated hunting looks like. We know what that looks like, because there have been multiple seasons in Minnesota and Wisconsin and one here, not to mention the regulated hunting seasons in place for every other game species.
MUCC: We're kind of like the Clydesdales on this issue. MUCC: We're kind of like the Clydesdales on this issue. (Still from the ad)
In Michigan, regulated hunting involves biologists setting regulations, quotas and hunting zones through the Natural Resources Commission. They review scientific data and use it to set hunting conditions through adaptive management. It is as different from the old bounty system as can be, but the anti-hunting groups still use the image of the old bounty system in an effort to confuse an uninformed public. They know the USFWS can see right through the misinformation in their petition, but the general public, a DC judge and most reporters will not.
In the worldview that anti-hunters are trying to force upon the rest of us, wolves would never eat a puppy, they're still threatened or endangered in areas where they've more than tripled their recovery goal, and there's no difference between scientifically-regulated hunting and the old free-for-all bounty system. This all stems from their biggest detachment from reality, which is their view that humans are no longer part of the natural world and that our role within that world has not been that of a hunter for the entirety of our existence as a species.
Drew YoungeDyke is the Field & Public Relations Manager for MUCC.

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