ESCANABA - The decision whether or not to de-list the gray wolf as an endangered species has been a high profile news topic of late, receiving broad coverage by radio, newspaper and television throughout the Great Lakes Region and nationally.
Passing themselves off as a conservation organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has six times now blocked the delisting of the gray wolf, even though the animal has clearly met the requirements to show sustained recovery set by the federal government. The irresponsible HSUS campaign has hurt local humane societies that run local shelters to a point they are denying affiliation statewide.
There is significant evidence the wolf is moving up as far as being a predator, having an impact on other wildlife here in the UP.
The anti-hunting, anti-trapping and anti-fishing HSUS has raised false accusations against state natural resource managers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, insinuating the states want to obliterate the wolf. It is but one of their ongoing campaigns that use mis-leading propaganda to work on the emotions of an unsuspecting public, apparently mostly for the purpose of raising money donations to keep themselves employed. Their position couldn't be further from the truth.
In an article submitted February 26 to the Detroit Free Press by HSUS Michigan State Director Jill Fritz, she not only blames hunters, trappers and ranchers for the demise of the wolf and buffalo, she insinuates they are also responsible for the decline of the bald eagle.
Fritz twists the words of MDNRE Wildlife Chief Russ Mason, and his comments on how declining habitat and previous rough winter weather played a role in a poor 2009 deer hunting season. The fact is Mason's points were part of the big picture. Predation, including that from coyotes, bobcats, bears and wolves is playing an ever increasing role against unstable deer populations. Unfortunately, the wolf is the only species of predator that resource managers cannot keep in check because they remain protected.
Commercial hunting did play a role in the reduction of roaming populations of buffalo, but that was in the early 1900's and corrected by then President Theodore Roosevelt. I don't recall any instances of their being over trapped. In fact, I couldn't find an incident or an example of a trapping device related to the buffalo.
My understanding of the problem with a decline in the bald eagle species of North American raptors, came about from the use of pesticides which damaged the shell of eggs laid. That problem was also corrected decades ago. The eagle was never a game species.
The wolf essentially ate itself out of house and home in the UP almost forty years ago, something that will once again occur if rapidly rising populations are not managed.
Most of us who report on conservation issues and participate in hunting, trapping and fishing, have taken the HSUS and affiliate organizations to task, having the opinion that they do nothing their name implies.
HSUS does nothing for local animal shelters or statewide organizations that use Humane Society as part of their nomenclature. HSUS has been in the business of condemning anyone or group that uses animals for pleasure, sustenance, science, profit or gain. They again do so for the purpose of working on the emotions of potential donators.
The good news is one such user group, represented by Ringling Brothers circus, has filed a lawsuit against HSUS under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The action was recently unearthed in federal court records by the non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).
"Americas farmers, ranchers, hunters, fishermen, research scientists, fashion designers, and restaurateurs have seen for decades how the animal rights movement can behave like a mobbed-up racket," said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. "But it's still shocking to see the evidence laid out on paper. In a treble-damage lawsuit like this, a jury could actually do the humane thing and finally put HSUS out of business completely."
The suit filed February 16, leveled bribery, fraud, obstruction of justice, and money laundering charges against HSUS and two of its corporate attorneys; three other animal rights groups; the Washington DC law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal; and all three of the firms names partners.
Details of the lawsuit are only available though a newly formed website; www.HumaneWatch.org which was launched by the CCF.
Legitimate organizations, the Upper Peninsula Sportmen's Alliance (UPSA) and Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), represent the vast majority of true conservationist throughout the state. Both organizations, on behalf of their members, support the Michigan science based Wolf Management Plan that indicates the wolf should be de-listed once the recovery goals are achieved.
According to Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC, "Only by helping people understand who and what HSUS really is, will we be able to continue to protect our outdoors heritage in this state. Michigan's sportsmen and women are the true conservationists." I would add that they are the ones who deserve the support of the general public. They are the true stewards of Michigan's natural resources.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.