Wolf recovery unharmed
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and three other groups have filed a lawsuit that seeks to restore federal protection to the Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves.
The suit alleges that the delisting of wolves more than a year ago and subsequent wolf hunts in Wisconsin and Minnesota during fall 2012 are a threat to wolf recovery. It claims the states have instituted hostile management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf numbers.
We believe the lawsuit is frivolous because there is no merit to the argument that wolf recovery is threatened. The longstanding federal definition of recovery is a population of 100 wolves outside of Indian reservations, and the wolf population in all three of the Great Lakes states is way beyond that.
Last fall, Wisconsin wolf hunters and trappers killed 117 wolves out of a conservative population estimate of 850 wolves. In Minnesota, the hunt resulted in a take of 413 wolves out of an estimated 3,000. About 700 wolves are thought to reside in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Wisconsin’s wolf population remains at more than seven times the federal threshold for wolf recovery, and it is still more than double the Wolf Management Plan goal of 350. That serious overpopulation has threatened to undermine public support of the entire wolf program, causing conflicts with farmers, dog owners, deer hunters and other groups that want wolf numbers held in check.
Federal courts have no basis with which to relist the gray wolf for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves were delisted because their populations recovered and state management has done nothing to change their recovered status.
Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan should continue to have sole management authority over a predator that must be controlled in accordance with modern science and in balance with the need to limit wolf depredation on livestock, deer, elk and pets.
Wheel tax only targets
The residents of Vilas County don’t need another tax increase, but that’s exactly what the county’s finance committee is exploring through the idea of a $10 wheel tax that would be collected by the Department of Transportation on behalf of the county.
Under this ill-conceived plan, the county would give the state permission to charge the extra fee as part of the annual vehicle registration process. The money would be transferred to the county for road work.
First, we see the idea as another quick-fix revenue boost that allows the county to continue ignoring the real issue — that supervisors can’t keep ducking the spending cuts they should have started making years ago.
Secondly, this tax targets only that segment of highway users who register their vehicle as a resident of the county. It misses entirely that group of seasonal residents and tourists who also rely on good roads.
Behind the editorial ‘we’
Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
|Tuesday, February 19, 2013 3:53 PM|