Wisconsin has been home to humans
for thousands of years. Lifestyles
evolved in harmony with the seasonal
abundance of the Wisconsin landscape.
The wealth of the Wisconsin white pine lured men who
dreamed of fortunes. Within a lifetime they left
behind fire-scarred cutover.
They Were Gone In a Lifetime
It was gone
within a lifetime. Wisconsin
lumber built the midwestern cities
and sheltered homesteaders on the
Great Plains. The pines were gone
in less than 60 years.
The Plow Follows the Axe
When the pines were gone, hardwoods like oak were
cut. Too heavy to float, these logs were hauled
by railroads or milled nearby. Many winter lumberjacks
were summer farmers. "Cutover" lands
were sold for farms by lumber companies or were
of owning our own farms. Immigrants
from Northern Europe flooded into
Wisconsin where the Handbook
for the Homeseeker promised energetic
workers bountiful land. Three-fourths
of northern Wisconsin became farmland.
Most of these farms failed within
a few years doomed by short growing
seasons and sterile soils.
"And the wild ducks when they
rise, made a noise like thunder." (Peter
Pond, 1808 fur trader in Columbia
County). Market hunters harvested
hundreds of waterfowl with blasts
of shrapnel from cannon-like "punt" guns.
Barrels of salted birds were sent
by railroad to eastern cities.
The first wardens were fish wardens
to protect the dwindling commercial
fishery on Lake Michigan, 1879.
"A mighty river in the sky." (John
Muir's description of passenger
pigeons in 1848). A large nesting
of passenger pigeons covered 850
square miles and contained an estimated
136 million breeding birds in Central
Wisconsin in 1871. In 1882, 75
barrels each filled with 500 birds
were shipped daily to Milwaukee.
In six weeks, 15 million birds
had been processed.
The demand for men's hats in Europe nearly exhausted
the North American beaver. European beavers had
already fallen due to these fashion fads.
We felt they
were killing our deer and livestock. For a century, bounties were seen as a way to rid
Wisconsin of competing predators like wolves. In
the 1940s people like wildlife professor Aldo Leopold
questioned the wisdom of species extermination.
In 1960, over a quarter million dollars of bounties
were paid and many citizens believed the practice
was wasteful and outdated.
nothing without enforcement. Wisconsin
wardens date back to 189. The early officers were
frustrated by lenient courts and weak fines. By
the 1920s 30 game laws were enforced, and violators
that because fewer wolves meant
more deer, that no wolves would
mean hunter's praised. But often
seeing the green fire die in the
wolf's eyes. I sense that neither
wolf nor the mountain agreed with
such a view. Aldo Leopold. Deer management
has always been controversial in Wisconsin. Debate
boiled over in the 1940s when the population peaked
and deer over-browsed their habitat. Leopold and
others called for drastic reductions to curb mass
starvation and habitat destruction. He was ridiculed
by many hunters and targeted by sports clubs and
tourist agents in Northern
Newsletter. His views
on conservation values were tempered during these
Waters of Wisconsin
Since the last glacier, the Horicon Marsh has supplied
people with plentiful resources. But in 1910, the
marsh was drained in the mistaken belief that it
could be farmed. Concerned citizens such as Louis "Curley" Radke
and Izaak Walton League members, launched a campaign
to restore the Horicon Marsh. The battle concluded
with theHoricon Marsh protected and the state wildlife
refuge in 1929.
What Will We Value Tomorrow?
What will we value tomorrow?