Just Plain Cruel: In "Hunting" Bill, Most Wolves Will Die a Slow, Painful Death in Traps | WisCommunity

Just Plain Cruel: In "Hunting" Bill, Most Wolves Will Die a Slow, Painful Death in Traps

The proposed gray wolf "hunting" bill being rammed through the Wisconsin legislature by Scott Walker's allies is horribly misguided for a number of reasons, but, first and foremost, let me be clear:  Hunters provide an invaluable public service to the state by providing control of our wildlife population and hunting is the most environmentally-responsible way to put food on the table.  So, I'm not opposed to hunting in general or even wolves particular, just because they're smart, soft and furry, and look and act just like my dog.

However, because wolves are almost genetically identical to the dogs we keep as pets, for obvious reasons they have a special place in our hearts.  While we might put our dog down when he or she needs to be put down-- we do it in a way that is quick and humane. Most would demand a similar treatment of most other animals and especially wolves.

That is not, however, how the vast majority of wolves would be killed in this bill.  That is because this includes provisions allowing trapping without setting any limits on what types of traps can and cannot be used. In fact, the bill specifically requires the DNR to allow so-called cable restraint traps, which are the most popular way to trap wolves and would be, realistically, how most wolves would meet their demise in this new "hunting" season.

A cable restraint trap works by a wolf getting its head caught in cable loop that tightens as the wolf struggles to get free.  Ideally, a trapper will check the trap every day, but many do not. Meaning that the wolf will often be left to die of starvation or from the elements.

Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap

Gray Wolf in Steel Jaw Trap

In addition, the Wisconsin DNR on coyotes and foxes, where everything was set-up ideally to ensure that the animal would not suffer.   They found that 30% of coyotes suffered a moderate injury and all of the rest experienced a mild injury from trying to escape from the trap. In addition, they found that the larger coyotes were more likely to be injured in the trap than the smaller foxes, leaving one to reasonably speculate that a wolf that is twice as large a coyote would inflict more injuries on itself as it tries to escape the trap.

In addition, there is nothing in this bill to prevent steel jawed traps, where a wolves are trapped by metal teeth clenching down on their feet.  Such traps are horrifically cruel and are already allowed by the -- there is no reason to expect they would treat wolves any different.  Many states have banned the use of these traps on ALL wildlife, while in Wisconsin, we're expanding the use of these barbaric torture devices to more highly evolved, intelligent creatures! 

While most in the conservation community agree that some form of wolf management is appropriate, we should tread lightly considering the gray wolf was literally just removed from the endangered species list.  Being removed from the list means that the landowners can legally shoot any wolf that comes on their land, which is sensible. However, if we have an overly broad (and cruel) hunting and trapping season for wolves, Wisconsin's wolf population will be wiped-out and be right back on the list.  And that wouldn't be good for the wolves, Wisonsin's environment, farmers or anyone else.




February 3, 2012 - 2:23pm