Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wolves, deer in the Apostles, and no $20 permits

Last week wolves were put back on the endngered species list, at least until US Fish and Wildlife decides to try to delist them once more, a lengthy process that will begin again shortly. Also, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore announced that Sand and York Islands will be closed for the season at the end of the month so sharpshooters can take care of the massive deer overpopulation that's threatening the native plant species on both islands.Finally in related deer news, most of the deer management units in northern Wisconsin have been changed from 'herd control' units to 'regular' units, which means that even though hunters will receive an anterless tag with their license, they won't be able to use them.

The states and the various tribes have been managing the wolf population for the past two years but a judge ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife Agency had not properly allowed for public input before delisting them. Now the public hearings and comment periods will begin all over. It seems like the wolf population is healthy enough in our area and the only threat they pose locally seems to be to bear dogs. For those unfamiliar with that activity, these bear 'hunters' let their dogs run loose through the woods for most of August to train them. They come loping and barking through camp as we sit and enjoy the summer, maybe shit in the yard, and then keep going. The guys who run dogs seem to see no problem with this, even though they would run you or your dog off their land in a heartbeat. Most of the time we don't molest the dogs.....much.....but the wolves generally aren't so accommodating when the dogs move through a packs territory. Dumb bear dogs stand no chance against a timber wolf and then we taxpayers get to pay the knucklehead that steered his dogs into wolf country in the first place. I think the Feds are wise to let the states and the tribal resource managers work with the wolf population in their state. After all, whats good for Ely, MN ain't necessarily the same thing thats good for Ashland, WI.

All the whining that took place after the deer season last year about too few deer and too many wolves seems to have caused the Wisconsin DNR to come up with what they must consider to be a winning solution. We can still shoot does, we just need to pay for a doe permit now. Managers have decided how many permits each unit will have and one a day can be purchased by each license holder until they are gone. $12 a pop for residents and $20 each for us Wisconsin tax paying landowners who are not residents. My thought on this is that they should require people commenting at the meetings and whining in the paper to have spent at least 20 hours in the woods during the previous hunting season. You can't see many deer from a bar stool and you can't believe what the guy on the next stool says about their being no deer. Maybe some sort of ass size/blood alcohol ratio test can be developed to screen for real hunters.

Which leads us to too damn many deer on Sand and York Islands. I've written about this before and witnessed it first hand every time I've camped on those two islands. If you don't see several deer at the campsites, 20 yards away or closer, you just aren't paying attention. Even though the islands are open for hunting its a pain in the rear end to hunt them. First of all a boat is needed, although when I think about it, a quartered deer just might fit in a kayak. If a deer is harvested it needs to be dragged to the shoreline to get to the boat. No ATVs to keep us elderly hunters from having a heart attack while dragging a 180# buck. Then there are likely permits to be filed for, an aggravated boat owner when you throw the field dressed deer in the bottom of his boat.... No, I think this trained marksman idea is perfect, plus the food shelves get the venison. Good luck to the NPS on knocking down the deer population and maybe even eliminating it on York, which is a much smaller island.

It seems funny that we need to control and manipulate animal populations to the extent that we do. It would appear that the phrase, "balance of nature" is nothing like a balance at all but an attempt to control the swing of the pendulum and keep it at a manageable level. Good luck I guess.

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