September 13, 2016
Two GOP lawmakers who organized a pro-wolf hunting event received about $4,200 in campaign contributions that were funneled through a group that supports wolf hunting.
The event, dubbed the Great Lakes Wolf Summit set for Thursday in Cumberland, was set up by Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake. They’re trying to attract farmers, hunters and politicians from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, which lost much of their state authority to regulate wolf populations after a federal judge’s decision in December 2014. That decision restricted state management programs, which included hunting and trapping the animals, by putting the gray wolf back on the federal endangered species list.
Wisconsin held hunting and trapping seasons for wolves between 2012 and 2014. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimated Wisconsin’s gray wolf population at nearly 900 animals during the 2015-16 winter. Those were the highest numbers since the 1970s when the wolves reappeared in northern Wisconsin after being eradicated by decades of hunting.
Tiffany said growing reports in recent years about wolves killing livestock, hunting dogs and pets justify allowing Wisconsin and other states to manage the animals as they see fit.
Tiffany’s wolf event was praised by the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association, which issued a statement calling the judge’s decision irresponsible.
The group operates a conduit, or check-bundling operation, that individuals have used to contribute about $3,700 to Tiffany and $500 to Jarchow between January 2010 and December 2015. During the same period, the conduit sent a total of about $107,200 to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $84,700 to Republicans and about $22,500 to Democrats.
The top recipients of Bear Hunter conduit contributions between January 2010 and December 2015 were Republican Gov. Scott Walker, $12,750; Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $5,400; Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $4,995; Tiffany, $3,710; and GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, $3,410.