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Bambi and the big, bad wolf PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 17:05

In this wet, mild summer, everything is growing like crazy in Ozaukee County—farm crops, garden vegetables, flowers, weeds and . . . deer.
    The fauna added to that list of flora are not out of place. All indications are that the local deer population is also growing like crazy. One of those indications is the impressive volume of domesticated plants the animals are munching in gardens and flower beds.
    Baby deer are all over the place. Fawns, fearless as puppies, frolic in parks and along the Ozaukee Interurban Trail and prance across streets. These adorable Bambis will soon grow into big, voracious plant-mowing machines and clueless road hazards. Concerning the latter, motor vehicles are about the only deer predators in this part of state, hence the flourishing herd.     
    Whitetail deer are so well adapted to various environments in Wisconsin that they are thriving in growing numbers even in parts of the state where they are sharing forests with the most deadly of all deer predators, timber wolves.
    The Department of Natural Resources reports that the deer herd in the 18 counties of the northern forest management zone has grown this year to more than 480,000 animals, an 18% increase over 2016.
    This jump in the deer population was accompanied by an increase in the numbers of wolves. The DNR says there are now 925 wolves in the state, more than at any time since the species was all but wiped out in the 19th century.
    Hunters should be delighted by the good news about deer numbers, yet claims that the burgeoning wolf population is an existential threat to the sport of deer hunting persist. It’s an often repeated refrain: “The wolves are killing our deer.”
    That belief fuels much of the effort to overturn the federal court decision that has allowed wolves to regain a foothold in the forests their ancestors once roamed in great numbers. That 2014 ruling held that wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota are endangered or threatened, and prohibited those states from allowing wolf hunting or trapping.
    The impact of wolves on the deer population is often exaggerated. Wolves eat deer, of course; one wolf can kill as many as 20 adult deer in a year, according to wildlife experts. That might sound like a lot, but in northern Wisconsin that would amount to fewer than 2,000 deer taken by wolves from a herd of almost half a million.
    It turns out that in spite of their fierce reputation as deadly pack hunters, wolves have comparatively little effect on the deer population. Studies have shown that a harsh winter causes deer mortality in far greater numbers than predators.
    The biggest cause by far of deer death is human hunters. According to the DNR, rifle and bow hunters killed 599,000 deer in all of Wisconsin in 20l6.
    Deer hunting is a revered institution in Wisconsin, and it deserves to be. For many, the sport is a heritage passed along by generations. In its purest form, it is practiced as an ethic that honors the glory of nature.
    There should be no place in that institution for the notion that the deer are “ours,” that they are rightfully the prey of humans, and not of the natural predators that hunt them to survive.
    Humans who hunt should be thrilled to share the forests with noble animals that hunt and whose resurgence is such a welcome sign of nature’s enduring vigor.
    It’s tantalizing to think of what that vigor, in the form of a visiting wolf pack, could do to control the Ozaukee County deer nuisance.
    Never mind. Wolves belong in the wild. Deer do too, but they didn’t get the message.

Laws that make the state look foolish PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 16:22

Eating Irish butter is a greater threat to Wisconsin residents than living in apartments that don’t have fire sprinklers.
    Goofy as it is, that’s one conclusion that can be drawn from the fact that the Walker administration was laying plans to get rid of a regulation requiring apartment buildings to have fire sprinklers at about the same time it was in court defending a law that makes it illegal to sell imported butter from grass-fed cows.
    Gov. Scott Walker has campaigned as a big foe of regulations that businesses don’t like, and in 2011 he pushed for and signed legislation that prevented state agencies from drafting regulations more stringent than rules set by state laws.
      A state lawyer recently determined that a state regulation requiring new apartment buildings with three to 20 units to have fire sprinklers can’t be enforced because it conflicts with that 2011 legislation.
    Walker’s Department of Safety and Professional Services then planned to scrap the sprinkler requirement, which has been on the books for seven years, but after criticism from firefighters that move is apparently on hold.
    Meanwhile, an attorney from the state Department of Justice was in Ozaukee Circuit Court last week fighting a lawsuit by a Grafton business owner seeking to overturn the butter law.
    The law, which prohibits the sale of butter that is not graded by a panel of experts based on 32 criteria, is a ridiculous restriction on commerce that deserves to be repealed rather than defended.
    Kathleen McGlone wants to sell Kerrygold Irish butter in her Slow Pokes Local Food store in Grafton, but could be fined $1,000 and jailed for six months if she does because it’s not graded by the Wisconsin butter panel.
    Kerrygold, pricey but prized for its taste as well as its cachet as a butter made from the milk of cows claimed to be free of growth hormones and antibiotics, is sold legally in every state except Wisconsin.
    It is so much in demand that the plaintiffs in the Ozaukee County lawsuit include a Cedar Grove woman suing for the right to buy it. Wisconsin residents living near Illinois, Minnesota or Iowa are said to cross state borders in considerable numbers expressly to buy Kerrygold.
    This sounds like a bit of a throwback to the so-called “oleo wars” when legions of Wisconsin residents became smugglers to bring butter-colored oleomargarine across the state line.
    Yellow margarine prohibition was in effect in the state from 1925 to 1964—evidence that America’s Dairyland has a powerful dairy lobby bent on making sure Wisconsin takes care of its own. People who wanted to eat margarine had to either buy it in a white form in a soft plastic container that came with a capsule of dye that could be kneaded into the gelatinous mass or sneak in butter-colored sticks of margarine from more enlightened states.
    To this day, it is illegal in Wisconsin to serve margarine of any color in restaurants unless a customer requests it and to serve it in state institutions, including state university cafeterias.
    Wisconsin has some legislative work to do, not lawmaking, but lawtaking—taking foolish or harmful laws out of the statute books. At the top of the list are the butter-grading law, the vestiges of the margarine law and the law that prohibits the enforcement of proven, common-sense fire safety measures.

No words for a chilling picture PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 16 August 2017 16:51

It was an image so utterly chilling that it might have been spawned by a nightmare, and in a way it was.
    A young man, face set as though in thrall of some powerful force, marched at the head of a group with his left hand gripping a torch and his right hand raised in a perfect Nazi salute, as were the hands of the men around him.
    It was a photograph that could have been made 80 years ago in Germany when Nazi youth paraded in a show of allegiance to their fuhrer, Adolph Hitler, but it wasn’t. The picture was taken Friday night, August 11, 2017, in the United States, and was published Monday in the New York Times.
    The photo was of a neo-Nazi parade through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. The march was a prelude to the white nationalist rally on Saturday at which a civil rights advocate was killed and many others injured by a Nazi sympathizer who drove his car into a crowd in an act of terrorism.
    A photo of neo-Nazis rendering Hitler salutes while marching in America should be disturbing to every American, but who cannot empathize especially with the emotions it must engender in those who experienced World War II?
    The citizen soldiers who served in that war, some with us as our most venerated veterans and others gone but remembered for standing up for their country in its most perilous moments, fought against the armies of the man idolized by the Charlottesville nationalists for writing the “blood and soil” messages they now chant in support of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and militant nationalism.
    That history of service and sacrifice in defense of American ideals of freedom and equality should have weighed heavily on President Donald Trump when he responded Saturday to the domestic terrorism in Virginia. Yet there was no sign in his statement of any understanding of the affront and threat by the Charlottesville nationalist rally to the values that generations of Americans have defended.
    The president’s statement mentioned a display of “violence on many sides, on many sides,” but there was no condemnation, not even criticism, of those who fomented the violence by flaunting Nazi symbols and mouthing anti-Semitic chants.
    The Charlottesville events called for the president to assert the moral leadership his office demands by reminding the country and the world of the ideals America represents and condemning those who attack them.
    That did not happen. The president who is famous for his vicious, hair-trigger Twitter attacks on anyone who criticizes him could not muster the will to even point a finger at the white nationalists espousing values that would be more at home in a Nazi regime than in the American democracy.
    It is hard not to give credence to the critics who blamed Trump’s reticence on a desire to placate the white supremacist groups that supported his election. One of the internet voices of those groups, the website The Daily Stormer (named after a virulently racist German tabloid called The Stormtrooper), praised Trump’s response as “really, really good. God bless him.”
    Criticism, rather than praise, rained down on the president’s statement from members of Congress of both parties. This included two eloquently cutting sentences from Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
    In a damage control effort two days after the terror attack, following meetings with advisers, the president said in remarks at the White House that racism is evil and the KKK, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are “criminals and thugs.”
    The tardy words were welcome, but probably not as memorable as what he did not say in the aftermath of the Charlottesville terror.
    And certainly they won’t be remembered for as long as will that haunting photograph of the modern equivalent of Hitler disciples marching in Virginia.

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