Praise for the Endangered Species Act

2013-12-26T01:00:00Z Praise for the Endangered Species ActWisconsin State Journal editorial madison.com
December 26, 2013 1:00 am  • 

If you love Wisconsin’s wolves, thank the Endangered Species Act, which turns 40 years old this week.

And if you love Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, do the same.

The landmark protection law, signed by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 28, 1973, allowed the majestic predator’s resurgence here. At the same time, the animal’s population — at more than 800 in Wisconsin last winter, just before lots of pups were born in the spring — was large enough for a second annual limited hunt, which just ended.

The proper balance between protection of such animals and their habitats, versus safeguards and conveniences for people and their property, is delicate and often controversial. Yet the gray wolf’s return and success here shows the power of the Endangered Species Act to preserve and promote some of our most vulnerable creatures, often for the benefit of all.

After years of legal battles, the gray wolf has been taken off the endangered and threatened list in Wisconsin, which makes sense, given its flourishing numbers. State and wildlife officials now must use care to ensure the wolf thrives over time and never returns to imperiled status.

The Endangered Species Act is probably best known for helping to save the bald eagle and large mammals such as the grizzly bear. Yet the act has helped lots of smaller species of insects, fish, reptiles and plants.

Application of the act has sometimes gone too far. And it can increase the cost of construction projects because of extra study and alterations.

But the act helps humans more than it hurts.

Protecting the bald eagle, for example, led to a better understanding of and restrictions on the pesticide DDT – benefiting the regal birds as well as humans. An endangered mint has been found to act as a natural insecticide. The anti-cancer drug taxol comes from an endangered tree.

Then there are the wolves in Wisconsin and across the Midwest. They help to control the deer population, which helps to protect plant diversity.

On its 40th anniversary this Saturday, the Endangered Species Act is worthy of far more celebration than detraction.

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. mzd
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    mzd - December 31, 2013 9:50 am
    There's a lot of discussion in this thread about the effect of wolves on the deer population. Wolves run in packs of 6-8 animals and have a range of 50-100 square miles. Deer density in Wisconsin varies widely but except for counties in the far NW part of the state average well above 30 deer per square mile (see http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/documents/winterpopperdr.pdf). According to rettoother in a response below, deer take 18-20 deer per year. So using a range of 50 square miles gives 1500 deer. The wolves take 160 deer or about 10%. Wolf range is probably larger in areas of reduced deer density; using a range of 100 square miles means wolves take about 5% of the deer population.

    If we look at total populations we see,,,

    Deer population of 1,500,000
    800 wolves state wide taking 16,000 deer (using retoother's 20 deer per year per wolf)
    Hunters take about 110,000 deer.

    We know deer density is lower in the Northern part of the state overlapping much of the wolves territory. So let's say 1/3 of the deer live in the wolf range. The wolves take 16,000 deer out of population of 500,000 or 3.2%.

    So it's probably safe to say wolves take somewhere around 3% to 5% of the deer population in areas where they range.
  2. mzd
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    mzd - December 31, 2013 8:08 am
    Something wrong with the arithmetic here..

    Retoother wrote

    "Simple math will tell you predators are having a huge impact on the deer population. 10 deer per sq mile, wolves (just using them for now) avg 6 per pack and a 100 mile range. Wolves need on avg 18-20 deer per year to survive. They would need 120 deer in their range to live but the problem is that there are only 100 deer in their range."

    A 100 mile range implies either 100 square miles or a 75000 square miles (a 100 mile diameter circle). Using 100 square miles with 10 deer per square mile gives 1000 deer, not 100 in the range so wolves would take less than 2% of the deer.
  3. truthzeeker
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    truthzeeker - December 30, 2013 5:00 pm
    If the reason you think wolves were eliminated because they were killers, then don't you think there may be another species of "killers" that we should eliminate.....humans? Specifically, whites of European descent.
  4. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 30, 2013 9:57 am
    No the 5000#'s of corn would not affect me as I am surrounded by public land for miles. To do that would be illegal and would be easy to spot.

    I did to mention the habitat I hunt, read again.

    Like I said manage the predator's like they do the deer herd. You would have an even balance. The increase in predators? Well maybe because of less tags, closing coyote hunting during the gun season, letting the wolf population explode without any controls (they had a plan for increasing them but none for controlling them until it was too late). Everyone has bear pics on their cams....everywhere you go.
  5. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - December 30, 2013 8:13 am
    This is probably one of the more ignorant comments I think I've heard on this issue in a long, long while. Any predator is a 'killer' by definition. But somehow in your mind these wolves are out there stalking humans , maybe like the vampires that they hang out with? And of course, if you don't believe that they are animals doing what animals do then you are a liberal with a Volvo. Wow, just .... wow.
  6. 45acp
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    45acp - December 30, 2013 7:38 am
    People eliminated wolves from Wisconsin many years ago for good reason. They are killers. Reintroducing them into the state was big mistake. From what I hear, many people in northern WI shoot them on sight. The bleeding heart liberals who drive around with Wolf license plates on their Volvos are clueless as to how the real world works. But, that's nothing new for liberals on any issue.
  7. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 4:58 pm
    tooth:

    I can tell you all sorts of deer stories as well from "up north" where I have lived for all but 3 years of my 60+. I can tell you about the adventures out on our place, where we might not see a deer for a couple days, but have several dozen on camera that night. The guy that owns the only other private land in a couple miles uses over 5000# of corn a year for bait. Loves to tell stories about it. Think that may have in influence on our ability to see deer?

    Nor did you mention the habitat type where you hunt. Big changes in that as well.

    How do you hunt? Tree stand over bait all day, or actually walk around and get some deer moving.

    Why the increase in predators? Could it be the increase in food supply (deer as you insist) ? Or maybe the lack of trapping pressure (nobody likes to work that hard anymore)? If the deer weren't there the predator populations would be dropping. How do suggest managing the preditors? We already have seasons on all the carnivores, unlimited on coyotes , do you suggest we kill them all?

    And there is no "simple math" when it comes to wildlife management. It is more about managing people that deer.

  8. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 3:37 pm
    Hank,

    All you have to do is look at buck harvest numbers to give you a good indication of where the population is at. DNR numbers? Just like the bear numbers where they were off for how many years? Then doubled the population in one year? Just like they kept saying that the deer where there but yet harvest numbers continued to show otherwise. So you're saying there are as many deer now as in 2000-2002 when we had record harvests?

    Simple math will tell you predators are having a huge impact on the deer population. 10 deer per sq mile, wolves (just using them for now) avg 6 per pack and a 100 mile range. Wolves need on avg 18-20 deer per year to survive. They would need 120 deer in their range to live but the problem is that there are only 100 deer in their range. Now add in bears, cats and yotes eating fawns and the deer do not stand a chance. Like I said we are at a critical time frame for the deer population. Either manager the predators like you do the deer herd or people will start taking it into their own hands and that is not what we need.

    60+ years ago during the big timber cutting in WI deer number went through the roof up north. Very few predators and strict hunting regulation helped that, it also made for huge die offs. Man made changes did not contribute to the low numbers up north, high predator numbers have.

    I have a place up north that is surrounded by public land. River to back side, no roads to get in, we have the only road in and I would bet we have 3000 acres that only we hunt. We do not shoot does only mature bucks. Guess what......very few deer. Never used to be that way, was not over populated but deer where there. So if the hunters did not shoot them where did they go? The state still logs behind us so plenty of clear cuts and select cutting going on which equals plenty of food.

    Only one answer to that question, predators. From 2004-2007 I never saw a fawn in the area. It is getting better now because we let the bear hunters access, wolf hunters the last two years and I will grouse hunt as much as I can where wolves like to den up when they move back into the area in the fall, push them somewhere else or at least try to.
  9. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 3:02 pm
    tooth:
    Sorry, I was just using DNR numbers from their website. If I am wrong I'll take complete responsibility for believing them.

    But, having said that, you are still under counting deer as even your numbers show 1.4 million, still a lot of deer compared to say 50 years ago, or 100 years ago.

    And you didn't address the reason (which isn't predators), but rather habitat and man made changes to the landscape.

    And yes, i hunt a lot.
  10. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 1:47 pm
    So you really believe we had 1.8 to 2 million + deer on the landscape?


    You do not hunt much I'll tell you that.

    "Wisconsin Data: Pre-hunt deer deer population estimated at about 1.4 million in 2013, about 1.5 million in 2012 Estimated 1.14 million deer after 2011 hunting season and 1.16 million deer after 2010 hunting season. Estimated 990,000 deer in January 2010. Down significantly since 2000 based on legislated deer goals. Deer hunting estimated to have $1 billion in economic impact on the state, according the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and wildlife watchers outnumber the state's 700,000 hunters."

    Little tid bit for you since you cannot produce any stats.
  11. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 12:01 pm
    tooth:

    DNR's most recent info on their website says the pre-hunt population was 1.8 million. So I was off by ~12%. I apologize. But still closer than "less than a million".

    I'm not anti-hunt by any means. I hunt anything out there that is legal and with legal means, and have for over 50 years. And this year we had a successful hunt in a bucks only unit where, according to some, the wolves have eaten all the deer.

    And I think you missed the argument on deer population dropping in the forested northern part of the state. Habitat is rapidly changing. Deer were never a common animal in the big woods pre-logging. Deer were expanding into that area in the 20's and 30's after the cutover and with the establishment of early succession forest species. Aspen, young hardwoods and conifer cover were great for growing deer and grouse. Now with the maturing of the northern forest deer are running out of suitable habitat. That maturing of the forest also made for acceptable habitat for the wolf, bobcat, fisher, marten, etc. Wildlife management is far more complicated than blaming everything on the big bad wolf (or other predators).

    have a good new year.

  12. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 11:43 am
    gotch:

    Sorry. "that" should be "than".
  13. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 11:05 am
    LOL.......maybe you should heed your how words Willy?

    Go back to your own state and we will take care of our own like we always do.
  14. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 10:54 am
    Hankdog....show me anywhere that states WIS deer population is over 2 million. SAK does support that, harvest numbers do not support that or deer sightings.

    Wolf numbers are increasing because they are expanding their territory.

    You need to brush up on your antihunting propaganda.

  15. koala
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    koala - December 27, 2013 10:37 am
    Nice try though? Do you really stand by your claim that "in a few more years there will be areas that have more wolves than deer"? Please explain, ecologically, how that could possibly come to pass.

    Deer populations post-hunt are indeed estimated to be around 800,000 statewide ... but those are way over-target, due to inability of the hunters to control the population.

    Stating that the "deer population in wolf country is well below carrying capacity" doesn't really say much, retoother. For ordinary logistic growth, maximum population growth (= harvestable capacity) occurs at half carrying capacity. So, from the point of view of hunting and wildlife management, being below carrying capacity can be a good thing, provided it isn't taken too far. It does appear, however, from the current estimates that wolves are more efficient than human hunters in reducing deer numbers. Oh, and they don't constantly complain about low deer numbers and how the DNR must be misleading them.

    Given that diseases are transmitted faster in denser deer populations, one would have thought that hunters would welcome somewhat lower deer densities. To say nothing of the greater challenge of the chase. In any case, the challenges that hunters face today are far, far, far less than those faced by their grandfathers and great-grandfathers in the 20's and 30's, when deer were just recovering from local extinction in most areas.
  16. william huard
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    william huard - December 27, 2013 10:21 am
    Now there's a thoughtful constructive response from one of the wildlife killers. Sorry- but Wolf herd Walker won't be in office forever. Maybe you could relocate to Mongolia with the rest of the bloodthirsty degenerates. Stepp, bob welch, George Meyer, the bear hunters bit;( Scott Suder, kazmierski from the canned hunters in SCI. There is a long list
  17. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 10:19 am
    gotch:

    And what, pray tell, is the gist of your comment? Please enlighten us in less that 100 words.
  18. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 10:16 am
    tooth:

    If you total up all the estimated population numbers from all the units it is >2 million. But let's use your number of less than 1 million, and go back to the original comment. Oly is incorrect, and the deer/wolf numbers in his little 160 acres of heaven rally don't count in the big picture. God save us if we start managing deer, or any wildlife based on 160 acres.

    "Too many wolves means most will die from starvation". That sure is nonsense. If that were the case why are wolf numbers (according to all the sources both pro- and anti- wolf) increasing?
  19. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 9:57 am
    Stick to your own state Willy..........Wisconsin is doing just fine with out you.
  20. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - December 27, 2013 9:11 am
    Correct me if I'm misunderstanding. Besides your not very subtle jab at Al Gore, are you saying that neither the GOP nor the Dems care for the environment but only for the money that their friends and donors can make off of big projects?

    I'd like to believe that's what this really amounts to instead of 'just another Dem bashing post'.
  21. Ego Vigilabo Vigilum
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    Ego Vigilabo Vigilum - December 27, 2013 8:55 am
    David Brower, America’s greatest environmentalist: "This was the beginning of the end of the Endangered Species Act."

    Now, was he talking about the evil Koch Brothers or some other Republican/Conservative corporate Mother Gaia rapists?

    Not exactly.

    When the Tellico Dam (on the Little Tennessee River) was 95 % complete, environmental biologists discovered that the ESA protected Snail Darter's habitat would be compromised. The dam wasn't needed for flood control or power generation, but it sure lined the pockets of state cement contactors.

    The Snail Darter presented a problem, so a waiver to the ESA was sought and granted. A "God Squad" was empanelled using cold, calculated cost/benefit analysis and would be called upon to pass judgment to determine the fate of species that had the poor evolutionary luck of being in the way of progress.

    "It was unfortunate that the controversy over the snail darter was used to delay completion of the dam after it was virtually finished. I am glad the Congress has now ended this controversy once and for all."

    Brower's quote from above was addressing the source of that directly above, none other than the self-proclaimed PR Man for the Planet, darling of the Left, and Mr. Global Warming himself; Al Gore, Jr.

    Feel free to get a second opinion from the residents of East Liverpool, OH, or simply read more at:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2007/03/03/al-gore-the-origins-of-a-hypocrite/
  22. william huard
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    william huard - December 27, 2013 8:50 am
    The spirit and goal of the ESA was to protect wolves and wildlife from Politics. Look at Wisconsin as a perfect example of why animals need protection. The Wolf was barely off the ESA 24 hours when the assault began. Little Scott Suder had legislation written by the farm bureau, Safari Club, and those fake hunters in the Wisconsin bear hunters assoc. It's tradition with those Wisconsin Bear Hunters to use Bait and Hounds instead of fair chase hunting as advocated in the NAMWC. They put their hounds in harms way while they bait black bears. The legislature got their back with taxpayer reimbursement of a2500.00 check. I kid you not....Wisconsin is so bad the bloodthirsty degenerates kill wildlife with their hounds every day of the week- and the DNR looks the other way. Politics is so awesome!
  23. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 8:48 am
    Okay...kind of like the Cackling Hen that will not comment anymore because every time she posts you can smell that lies dripping off the stench.
  24. Retoother
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    Retoother - December 27, 2013 8:47 am
    Wisconsin does not have "over 2 million" deer in the state. They haven't for over a decade. Try less than a million now after the hunts (which are still going on) this fall. The majority of those deer are not in wolf territory. The deer population in wolf country is below carrying capacity. To all those no so bright that means that it is not good for the deer or wolf. Too many wolves means most will die from starvation. Good thing they bumped up the quota for the wolf harvest as now more can make it through another tough winter up north.


    Nice try though.
  25. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 27, 2013 8:40 am
    truth:

    Odd that, given your screen name, most of what you wrote is false. I wonder if you ever worked on a restoration project for federal end. species? I have, and you really don't have a clue.
  26. truthbetold
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    truthbetold - December 27, 2013 7:43 am
    You are correct oly65..... The International Environmental organization IUCN lists the grey wolf as a species of "least Concern" along with the grizzly bear. 75 to 80 percent of all our Federal Endangered Species Resources are spent on JUST wolves and Grizzlies. REFORM the Endangered Species Act! People pimping wolves in order to get "donate now" buttons pressed need to be held accountable. If every Federal dollar spent on the Endangered Species Act was spent on Habitat improvement, habitat restoration, and habitat protection all our Endangered Species would have been much much much better off. States have Endangered Species programs that don't let "donate now" groups abuse them! Help reform the ESA and support Congresswoman Lummis effort at reform! The only thing the ESA did was create rich environmental lawyers! States have proven success at protecting endangered species! Protecting wildlife is a STATES issue under our CONSTITUTION!
  27. hankdog
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    hankdog - December 26, 2013 1:33 pm
    oly:

    There are approximately 800 plus/minus wolves in WI and over 2 million deer. It is highly unlikely that there will every be more wolves than deer in an area of significant size. Your anecdotal experience on 160 acres really has no bearing on deer/wolf management..

    Editor:

    Adrian Wydeven is no longer the wolf biologist and hasn't been for some time. Please update your caption under the photo.
  28. oly65
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    oly65 - December 26, 2013 2:17 am
    I like how they say the wolf is in Wisconsin to keep the deer pop. in check. Well guess what in a few more years there will be areas that have more wolves than deer. In Juneau Cty. where the DNR say there are no established wolves and if we see one its traveling though we have pics of 3 sets of wolves on cam. And coincidently we have seen our deer population plummet to where we don't hunt anymore. We own a 160 acre farm near public land that's not hunted and a river system and I have not seen a deer for 5 years cross my land. In an area where 10 yrs ago I bow hunted and would see 6-12 deer every night from my deer stands to not hardly a track. I have photos of more wolf tracks than deer tracks on my land. Next when there are no deer our farm animals will be next. So this beautiful creature that the tree huggers love will start causing some problems and its sad when I tell my kids that they cant go down to the river and fish by themselves any more because I don't trust their safety anymore.

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