Wolves of Douglas County helped sponsor a showing of Medicine of the Wolf by Julia Huffman in Madison last October for which I designed a few posters, one of which was used. Recently, Sierra Club, Colorado picked up the two unused designs for two different commemorative posters for screenings on two separate campuses, Breckenridge and Spring Valley. Here are the posters as they ended up out west.
Dear Senator Baldwin,
I voted for you, and I celebrated when you took office. I am proud of your voting record, particularly when it comes to environmental concerns. You are and have been one of the few constituents speaking on behalf of, and representing, my values. Often, I have felt that I did not have a voice at the table, and in many ways your choices gave me one. Because of this, I find it particularly difficult that I now find one of the issues about which I am most passionate, possibly at stake. I sincerely request that you thoughtfully consider the delisting of wolves in Wisconsin before you make a decision.
I want to acknowledge that I know you will be under intense pressure under the current political climate and perhaps the delisting of wolves is a simple compromise compared to other battles that you may believe in more than this. Perhaps you even agree with some of the arguments coming from the right that you have been presented with regarding this issue.
Please understand that I am not a “warm and fuzzy, urban dwelling, wouldn’t know what to do with a Swiss army knife, sentimental idealist”. On the contrary, I have participated in a howl census near my home in Eau Claire, WI with the local DNR (before some of the scientists left). I have volunteered my professional skills to groups such as The Wolves of Douglas County. I have participated in the Wolf Tracking seminar with Dick Thiel at Beaver Creek, and I have had made connections with the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN. Additionally, I have read reports by Adrien Wydeven regarding wolves in WI. Additionally, I have read, as an amateur naturalist, dozens of volumes on wolves from work by early advocates such as Adolph Murie and Aldo Leopold to recent biologists such as Rolph Peterson (who I met on Isle Royale), David Mech and Doug Smith, as well as more literary explorations by authors such as Barry Lopez who reveals the psyche behind the history of human/wolf interactions.
My first argument for not agreeing to delist wolves is that the wolf is not like other animals that have “recovered” such as the Bald Eagle or the Sandhill Crane (two of this state’s great recoveries). Wolves are disliked, maligned, and even hated by a population that has nothing but ire and ill-will for the animal. Most of this is inherited views, atavism, and political dynamics. But to the folks that are really impacted by predations, I send my sympathies. Losing my dog was one of the saddest days of my life and this is all the more reason to not allow dogs to be out hunting wolves, placing both animals in the position of what amounts to dog-fighting.
Secondly, I would argue that this is not a choice based on scientifically sound evidence as ecological issues should be, particularly when they are controversial. The move to delist is based in politics and irrational hate, and perhaps some frustration. Deer numbers are strong where wolves are dwelling. Science tells us nature will level the population.
Which brings me to the issue which I am sure many have brought to your attention, a target population number. As you may know, in the seventies when wolves began to recolonize Wisconsin, the target population number was 350. This number was, for the most part, an arbitrary number arrived at through disputing sides of the issue. The current number in Wisconsin exceeds that and the eco-system is healthier for it. Despite this, some advocates for delisting want to bring the number down as low as 100 which has no scientific rationale. If we look to our neighbors to the west in Minnesota, we clearly see that Northwood environments can sustain the current populations.
Finally, if you choose to delist, I hope you will frame this honestly. There are no real tangible benefits to nature by delisting. The move to delist is either a blood sacrifice to conservatives to negotiate a hostile political climate in which an unknowing animal becomes a trophy, or it is an unscientific attempt at “management” of an animal that has already been driven to near extinction in this country historically, and will in all likelihood “self-manage”. Rural communities already have a process in place to deal with marauding wolves. Delisting sometimes risks increased confrontations if it is carried out willy-nilly or indiscriminately, leaving young wolves with no parents, etc.
If you offer your support to those eager for a delisting, I hope you will also then take responsibility for aiding in a reasonable population target, or perhaps take responsibility for driving the animal from the state entirely. Ultimately, to see the wolf disappear is to see the wild disappear, and, from what I know of you, that simply can’t be what you want. In an age when mammals all over the world are literally disappearing forever, we can’t afford to play God with animals that know nothing of our politics. Thank you so much for making it to the end of what I feel is a very important plea.
Sincerely and hopefully,
Here are three poster designs created to promote a screening of “Medicine of the Wolf” a documentary on wolves by Julia Huffman, which won several international film awards. The screening is in October at the Barrymore in Madison. The spare, black and white design was chosen, but I am kind of attached to all of them. Maybe I can use the others for some other purpose in the future. All designs feature my artwork. Here’s the link to the trailer for the film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEjLGG0-Wvc