Great News For Grizzly Bears And Ethically-Minded People

With all the news that blew up last week over the Supreme Court nominee it allowed for less time to take note of items which truly need to applauded.

Such as this one.

A Montana federal judge returned Yellowstone-area grizzly bears to Endangered Species Act protection Monday, permanently blocking hunting seasons in two states.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ruled to reverse a United States Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove the protections and canceled the first grizzly bear hunt in the continental United States since 1991.

That is simply the best news possible about this whole sad episode.

I read and heard that there was such outrage over the proposed hunt that grizzly enthusiasts applied for the tags in places like Wyoming to help protect the bears.  One of the tags was obtained by a wildlife photographer who stated the only thing he was going to shoot of the bear would come from the lens of his camera.

Grizzly bear numbers in and around Yellowstone have improved since the animals were protected in 1975. But they are still threatened by isolation from other grizzly populations, loss of key food sources, and human-caused moralities.

It would have been monstrous if the proposed trophy hunting would have been allowed to proceed.  Overall grizzly bears occupy less than 4 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states.

Hunters never care about such facts.  They only like to shed blood of innocent animals.

Well, not this time Bubba.



Special Interests, Not Small Children, Clamoring For Wisconsin Gun Law

It was the type of news report that no one in Wisconsin could be proud of when knowing it had reached a national audience.   But there it was in USA Today.

On the heels of a change that eliminated Wisconsin’s minimum hunting age, 10 state hunting licenses were sold this month to children younger than 1, according to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources data released Tuesday.

It’s not known whether any of he infants actually participated in the hunt.

We chide other states over this or that issue but now we have to be prepared for the snide remarks which are surely to be aimed at us.    How this piece of legislation ever came to see the light of day is as much on my mind as the effect of its passage on our state.

What is at the heart of this matter is that some of the hunting interests in the state see a slippage in the number of young people who feel exhilaration over the notion of toting a weapon into the woods and killing animals.   There was no huge expression of desire from youngsters on this matter.  They were not calling legislative offices or using crayons to write letters to support a bill that they had no idea about. No, this whole matter was all about the special interests.

If members of the legislature were so intent on helping young people explore the great outdoors they  surely could have found some other avenue than one which allows access to a deadly weapon.  But this was not about kids as much as those special interests who also send campaign cash at election season.

I can say this with some authority since I know something about stuffing strange gun bills through the Wisconsin Legislature.  After all, I was the legislative aide to former State Representative Lary Swoboda at the time he authored the blind hunting bill in the state.  I would like to say you should read that line twice–but it still comes out the same.

If you have never spent any time with a quick-minded reporter from one of the Chicago papers, let me tell you blind hunting should not be your introductory topic on which to spar.  Believe me, I now know.  My ethical qualms tore at me between doing the job I was hired to do, and my sincere opposition to the measure on policy grounds.   In the end I was able to do both by talking off the record with the reporter and being able to impart the facts and also allow my conscience to be clear.

But the recent bill allowing all ages to hunt shows that these many years later legislators still get trapped into authoring such measures.  I know some will argue, as Swoboda did, that it shows representatives are ‘in touch’ with their districts.  But let me take the spin off that line and be blunt.  These types of bills are nothing more than a sign the elected officials are in touch with the special interests who fund the campaigns.

Having been raised in a rural area I know there are some kids who really desire to hunt with their dad or older relatives.  But I also know there are some kids at 13 who want to drive, and by 14 want to have sex.  But with all things there is a time and a season.  When most young kids are still not responsible enough to take the garbage to the curb each week one has to wonder what was in the heads of those who sponsored and passed this legislation.

At some point this law is going to prove very troubling and there will be headlines in newspapers and Letters to the Editor from shocked citizens.  At that time I trust those in the state legislature who passed it take the time to issue a meaningless press release, fully understanding that when they had the chance to stop the bill they opted instead to work for the special hunting interests.

Time To Strike Out Wisconsin DNR Funding For Hunters’ Dogs Killed By Wolves

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.

Would Wisconsin Compensate “Old Dan” From “Where The Red Fern Grows”?

I was taken aback to learn how many hunting dogs were compensated for in Wisconsin due to being killed by wolves–while hunting bears.

Yes, I am serious.

But Sinderbrand said Wisconsin’s payments to hunters who have lost dogs to  wolves during the bear hunting season show otherwise. He said that between 1985,  when wolf depredation claims were first paid, and 2011, the state has paid  claims on 195 dogs killed by wolves either while hunting bears or training for the bear hunt.

This is plain ridiculous.

What is next?

Getting state compensation for my canoe that hits rocks while in the Crystal River?

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, it is at the end of the day a decision made by the hunter.  Any injury to the dog should not, in any way, be the responsibility of the state to remedy.


I understand that there has been much controversy over the years concerning the DNR decision to expand the wolf population in the state.  One way to temper the 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 instances.

But I find it laughable 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?

I do not support the bear hunt season in Wisconsin. I oppose the wolf hunt season, and am glad there is a loud discussion about the use of dogs concerning the latter.  I trust the judge will make an ethical ruling this week.

But at the end of the day I am not interested in having hunters compensated for the results of what they do with their dogs.  That is something they need to reckon with their moral compass, not the state treasury.

Thrill-Hunting Of Black Bears Backfires In Montana, Nevada Man Dead

I am sure that the hunting party involved in this incident were planning to use all the meat from the bear they were hunting.  I am sure they are going to use the skin for clothing, and some of the internal organs for medicinal purposes like Native Americans once did.


I am sure that these guys were not out solely for the joy of killing a black bear–a most magnificent animal. 


The hunted, became the hunter.  No tears to be shed over this story–except for the bear.

No one can blame the bear.  He did not come after the man until the most savage human instincts provoked the bear.

It should be noted that these hunters killed a protected  bear. A struggling population of fewer than 30 grizzly bears, which are listed as threatened in the Lower 48 states under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, roam the mountain forests of northeastern Idaho and northwestern Montana.

 A grizzly bear attacked and killed a Nevada man whose friend moments earlier had shot and wounded the animal during a hunting trip in northwest Montana, authorities said on Saturday.

Steve Stevenson, 39, of Winnemucca, Nevada, died of injuries he sustained in the mauling by the grizzly on Friday, said Brent Faulkner, undersheriff with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in Montana. After the attack, the bear was shot and killed by Ty Bell, 20, also of Winnemucca.

The two men had paired off as part of a four-man hunting party seeking black bears in the rugged Purcell Mountains where Idaho and Montana border British Columbia.

On Friday morning, Bell mistook a young male grizzly as his quarry and shot the bear, (the guy with the gun was shooting at something he was not sure of!) which sought refuge in a wooded area, Faulkner said.

The two men tracked the wounded bear, which attacked Stevenson before being shot multiple times by Bell.

Can Wisconsin Deer Hunters Handle The Truth?

Over the years the complaints from deer hunters across Wisconsin have mounted.  Where are the deer?  Sadly, and amusingly, the issue from time to time has been taken up by politicians wishing to score some quick votes.    Running around promising a chicken in every pot would be a lot easier than promising the good-ole boys intent on enjoying ‘deer-week’ that they all leave the woods pleased.

Someone needs to tell deer hunters the way the herd is presently managed makes sense.   Every student does not get a gold star on their worksheet as a child, and every hunter should not expect a deer strapped to the car at hunting time.  ( The latter a sight I find real sad.)   The idea that everyone must win (or get a deer) is something I just fundamentally disagree with. 

We need to keep in mind that here should not be so many deer in Wisconsin that we notice them on every car trip anywhere out of an urban setting.

Question is will Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and his DNR team be able to step up and honestly address the deer hunters who think there are not enough of them in the wild?  And if not, what does that say about Walker and Company’s ability to press forward on the real tough matters facing Wisconsin?

At the end of the day if the only thing to grumble about is the lack of deer  we see out in the woods, I would say all is quite well in the Badger State. 

Today a column in the Wisconsin State Journal hit to the core of how I feel about this matter.

Even if “there’s no deer,” and even if “the DNR doesn’t listen,” Gunderson needs more than self-pity to address Gov. Walker’s motto: “Wisconsin is open for business.” The governor can’t afford a half-baked deer-management plan that lets the herd explode.

If the DNR — Gov. Walker’s DNR — allows that, he’ll trade a few unhappy hunters for myriad irate landowners and businessmen. He doesn’t want motorists, homeowners, orchard growers, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin County Forests Association and the Wisconsin Council on Forestry to bear the costs of a runaway deer population.

Those folks helped shape our current deer-management system. Abandoning them now, just as deer numbers become manageable, would prove foolish.

And what about chronic wasting disease? Even if we pretend a CWD vaccine is at hand, we can’t risk letting deer herds boom. The more deer requiring treatment, the greater the cost of vaccines and the difficulties distributing it.

These are just a few problems Walker and Gunderson inherited by politicizing deer management during the campaign. But don’t be surprised if they quietly accept our current, codified system and simply tweak it here and there. The worst that would happen is quieter belly-aching from the eternally dissatisfied.

Why quieter? Russ Decker, the only Democrat who demagogued deer sightings, lost his re-election bid. Meanwhile, Walker, Gunderson, Sen. Neal Kedzie and other GOP leaders can no longer benefit by making deer an issue. With the DNR under their party’s thumb, they must defuse their torpedo.

Gunderson can help by delivering on Walker’s promise to follow science in managing deer. That’s a promise worth fulfilling.

Shooting Fenced In Animals Makes North Dakota November Ballot

History books tell of settlers combing the woods for animals to hunt in order to have food along with the additional benefit of fur and hides for survival.  Today there is another story being written about man and animals, and unlike the ones from the early days of our country, this one instead makes my blood run cold.

“Shooting ranches” buy their own animals such as elk and other large wonderful creatures, then fence them in, and allow rich men who pay thousands of dollars the chance to shoot them for a trophy on a wall.

At a time our home was trying to save the life of a duckling this week comes this story that makes me want to hurl.

On Nov. 2, North Dakota voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would do away with these ranches. What’s surprising is that the battle over Ballot Measure 2 doesn’t pit hunters against their natural adversaries, animal-rights activists, who have long opposed the ultimate blood sport. Rather, the debate is dividing hunters themselves.

In short, one side of the debate is from those who think a hunt should involve a skilled sportsman tracking free-ranging wildlife that have every opportunity to evade the pursuer.  On the other side are those like hunter David Regal,  rich white men with far more money than common sense, morals, or ethics.  What type of people shoot animals that are fenced in?  With the motto of  this shooting ranch being “We guarantee success or the hunt is free!” means that fairness to the animals is not a consideration.

After hours of scouting the bone-colored badlands at Cedar Ridge Elk Ranch here, hunter David Regal took aim and fired twice from his .300 Winchester Magnum rifle. One shot killed a bull elk that weighed 700 pounds, wore a 12-point set of antlers, and cost the shooter $8,500.

“I like to get the best there is,” says Mr. Regal, 72 years old, who owns an excavating business in Michigan. He drove 1,100 miles here with his brother in a motor home, towing his black Hummer behind.

Cedar Ridge is one of North Dakota’s dozen or so private hunting ranches, enclosed by high fences and stocked with farm-raised elk and deer. Here, well-to-do hunters like Mr. Regal pay for a guaranteed shot at some of the most majestic prey in the West.

Come this November the voters will decide if these fenced in shooting ranges on animals should be ended. 

About 40 bull elk roam the 2,000 acres of sagebrush and cedar groves enclosed by eight-foot-tall wire fences at Cedar Ridge Elk Ranch in the southwestern corner of North Dakota.

Lets hope come November 2nd, the owner of these shooting ranches have to make money without the blood of fenced animals dripping off of it.