My Republican friends often ask me where I would make cuts in government spending. There seems to be a belief that liberals only want to spend more, and never trim back government programs. While I think in large part there needs to be a reordering of our priorities when it comes to our state budget I am also aware there are times when it is totally prudent to just cut out a program.
Such is the case with paying hunters in Wisconsin when a wolf kills a hunting dog.
The front page of the Wisconsin State Journal, thanks to the work of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, was must reading Sunday when a large story took the reader inside the controversial notion that we should compensate the owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting bears, and other animals. I was even more astounded when it was reported that a “ total of $19,000 in payments (were paid) after they were convicted of crimes or paid forfeitures for hunting or firearms-related offenses”. When one of those, Josh Schlosser of Oconto who received money, was contacted for the story he became upset that the matter was making headlines.
Schlosser, by the way, had a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for killing a bear without a license and was fined $2,108. In addition his DNR hunting privileges were revoked for three years. Still he filed a claim seeking $4,500 for the death of a hound in 2011, and the state paid him the maximum $2,500.
If there is to be any upset feelings from the story it should be coming from the residents of the state who are coming to better understand what is really taking place with these DNR funds.
It would seem to me that hunters are making a choice as to 1) owning hunting dogs, and 2) using them in a fashion that may place them in danger. While using dogs to tree a bear, in my estimation is unethical and unseemly, it is at the end of the day a decision now allowed to be made by the hunter, though I would like to see it prohibited by law. Therefore any injury to the dog who is taken out into the wilderness to hunt should not, in any way, be the responsibility of the state to remedy.
I understand there has been much controversy over the years concerning the DNR decision to expand the wolf population in the state. One way to temper that outrage was to allow for those who suffered ’losses’ to be reimbursed from a fund that comes from purchasing endangered resources license plates for their cars. I supported the DNR in both of those instances. In the past year the funds to pay for this program has originated with the state’s wolf-hunt application and license fees.
But I find it unacceptable that hunters who go out with the mission to kill a bear would bitch and complain if one of their hunting dogs was maimed or killed by a wolf during the hunt. Might hunting bear without dogs be a more sportsmanlike and competitive undertaking? Or is the slaughter of an animal the only thing that matters?
The newspaper story points out a very disturbing fact that should unite everyone around the need to eliminate the program. The DNR program approved more than $80,000 in payments to repeat claimants, meaning those who put dogs in successive situations where they were killed by wolves.
I am fully aware the DNR monies for this matter are small, and one can argue even trivial in the larger context of state issues. But this issue should concern us based on two ethical perspectives. The first being the use of dogs to hunt animals such as bears, and then the payment of monies to those who have violated state hunting or firearms laws.
This should be one of those times when both ends of the political spectrum meet and agree to act and strike away the ability of the DNR to pay for such total contrived nonsense. No other state compensates owners for hunting dogs killed by wolves, and Wisconsin should end the practice this year.
Finally, and once again, Caffeinated Politics thanks the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism for a job well done.