Political Matters: Ma'iingan update


mordecai_specktor_some.jpgThe Minnesota House of Representatives

now has a Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee. Such a

thing didn’t exist when I worked as a writer at the House Public

Information Office, in 1994 and 1995. I covered meetings of the

Environment and Natural Resources Committee, on the House side of the

Capitol. The late Willard Munger, a champion of the natural

environment in Minnesota, chaired the committee. He often waged a

lonely, uphill fight – against an array of well-funded industry

lobbyists and the elected officials in their service – for measures

that would have encouraged sustainability for the benefit of our


Anyway, the Mining and Outdoor

Recreation Policy panel held an informational hearing about

ma’iingan, brother wolf, on Jan. 20. As I wrote briefly in my last

“Political Matters” column, on Dec. 19, U.S. District Court Judge

Beryl A. Howell, in Washington, D.C., ruled that wolf management in

the western Great Lakes states should be returned to federal control.

Judge Howell’s decision, on a motion

brought by The Humane Society of the United States and other animal

protection groups, upended the regime of wolf hunting and trapping

that ensued after the wolf was removed from protection under the

Endangered Species Act, in April 2011, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Service removed protection for gray wolves in the western Great

Lakes, in January 2012.

However, agriculture interests and

hunting groups want to put the wolf back in the gun sights and traps,

so some members of Congress are getting into the act. In January, the

Associated Press reported that U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), is

leading an effort to legislatively undo Judge Howell’s decision.

“I am pursuing a bipartisan

legislative fix that will allow the western Great Lakes states to

continue the effective work they are doing in managing wolf

populations without tying the hands of the Fish and Wildlife Service

or undermining the Endangered Species Act,” Ribble said in a

statement, according to AP.

Co-sponsors of the legislation, which

has circulated in draft form, include Rep. Collin Peterson, a

Minnesota DFLer; Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.); and Rep. Cynthia

Lummis, (R-Wyo.).

Regarding Ribble’s assertion that

the states are doing “effective work” in “managing wolf

populations,” both Minnesota and Wisconsin exceeded the wolf

killing targets set for 2014.

“The overage is a reminder that the

State of Wisconsin is still really operating on its learning permit

when it comes to harvesting wolves,” Peter David, wildlife

biologist for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

said. GLIFWC represents 11 Ojibwe tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and

Michigan, which have reserved hunting, fishing and gathering rights

in territories ceded in treaties with the U.S. government (1837, 1842

and 1854).

David was quoted in an article titled

“Wolves take extra hit in WI,” which appeared in a recent edition

of Mazina’igan, which is published by GLIFWC. The article notes

that Wisconsin allowed wolf “kills to exceed harvest goals by

nearly double in at least one zone.”

It looks like there’s a similar

situation in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Web site shows that the 2014-2015 late season for wolf hunting and

trapping set a “harvest” target of 126 wolves; but 148 wolves

were killed – 17 percent more than the target.

During a phone chat in late January,

David told me that Wisconsin overall kept “pretty close” to its

wolf harvest target, with one zone coming in with a harvest “nearly

double” its quota.

“If the tribe had done that, it

would have been front page news, and it got very little press in

Wisconsin,” David commented, regarding the state allowing an

excessive wolf kill.

David, who alerted me to the draft

legislation on wolves in Congress, could not say if there would be

another wolf season in the western Great Lakes states later this


Another wrinkle in the wolf

controversy, according to David, is that wolves in Wisconsin were

classified as “endangered”; in Minnesota, the wolf species was

listed as “threatened.” When Judge Howell reinstated federal

protection of wolves, under the Endangered Species Act, “legal

depredation control could go forth” in Minnesota; but “even in

cases of verified depredation of livestock, wolves can’t be killed

in Wisconsin.”

In any case, as David noted, the

Anishinabe creation story relates that humans and ma’iingan are

brothers, “and they have an intertwined fate, so what’s going to

happen to the one is going to happen to the other … so you want the

best for the wolf community … you don’t kill an animal for