WILL Research Associate and Writer, Cori Petersen, writes in the Wall Street Journal on Washington’s failure to protect private property and help manage Wisconsin’s burgeoning wolf population:
When the Trump administration announced a plan last week to overhaul the Endangered Species Act, the frantic reactions were illustrated with pictures of humpback whales and baby bald eagles. But a much better way to understand what Republicans have in mind is to consider Wisconsin’s wolf problem.
Paul and Judy Canik raise bighorn and hair sheep near the small town of Butternut. Their herd has grown to about 400, each sheep worth around $1,500. Guarding the prized flock are nine Spanish mastiffs, worth $2,500 apiece. While checking on their animals two years ago, the Caniks found that 17 pregnant ewes and one dog had been killed by wolves. All that remained of the dog was its skull. This was the second mastiff wolves had eaten on their property. Last fall on the nearby farm of Daniel and Kathy Postical, wolves killed three angus beef calves.
The Caniks “worry all the time” and count their sheep every day. “There’s a place for wolves, but not here on the farms,” says Ms. Canik. “In summers like this with the windows open I can’t sleep when I hear the dogs barking.”
Since gray wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota are protected under the Endangered Species Act, farmers are forbidden to shoot the predators that devour their livestock. The penalty for “knowingly violating” the law can reach $50,000 and a year in prison. But after decades of federal protection, the wolves have more than rebounded.