Reaffirming our relationship to Ma'iigan

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I was appalled after seeing ¼ of the wolf population taken

out in one hunting season. I have three primary concerns in regards to the wolf

issue. One is that public input was not acknowledged, two is that the DNR

failed to live up to their promise as outlined in their Wolf Management Plan by

following the 5 year wait after federal de-listing, and third we need to be

more careful when considering the longevity of the wolf.

In our democracy, prevailing public attitudes usually shape

public policy.  With the wolf hunt, it is

small interest groups of trophy hunters and cattle raisers who are getting

their way with the wolf.  In every poll

that I have seen the majority of Minnesotans do not want a wolf hunt.  As Senator Eaten, briefed upon, “We’ve pumped

a lot of money into wolf survival and as soon as protection is removed that

money is down the drain.”

The International Wolf Center sponsored a study in 1999 by

Stephen Kellert, Ph.D., of Yale University, to measure public attitudes toward

wolves in Minnesota; and the DNR published a poll in 2012 to assess public

attitudes on wolves. Kellert study concluded, "The wolf is especially

appreciated by Minnesota residents for its nonconsumptive value. By contrast, a

majority of both northern and non-northern Minnesota residents remain skeptical

about harvesting the animal for either fur or for sport, and are concerned that

these forms of consumptive use could result in excessive and unsustainable

mortality."  The DNR’s 2012 poll had

similar findings, “79% of respondents oppose wolf hunting.”  So why aren’t our voices being considered?

The majority of Minnesotan’s residents value wolves.

Last month, I became aware that the DNR feel that their

primary clients aren’t Minnesotans in general, but, hunters/trappers and

livestock producers.  This was confirmed

through an internal email that the organization Howling for Wolves commissioned

through Data Practices Act; in which top DNR officials declare that "we

owe it to our primary clients, hunters and trappers, and to livestock producers

as secondary clients, to do what we can to establish a legitimate harvest

opportunity."  Now I understood why

the hunt had quickly come to fruition.

Are we really leaving the protection of wolves up to

hunters/trappers and cattle producers (the DNR’s primary clients)?  It doesn’t look like a sound plan to me. As

we have seen in our country’s history, cattleman and trophy hunters decimate

entire wolf populations throughout the lower 48 states. I am confident that

history often repeats itself.

Elk, moose, bison, caribou, and wolves used to occupy most

of Minnesota. Based on my knowledge, about the DNR’s management of moose in

Minnesota and their sudden population decline for reasons outside of our

control, there is good reason to believe the wolf population is at stake. This

has been evident in the DNR’s management of Moose. According to the DNR Moose

Management Plan, “Minnesota’s moose (Alces alces) population, currently

concentrated in the northeast corner of the state, is facing a decline where the

cause is not understood.” In 2012, there are 4,230 moose; in 2005 there were

double that at approx.: 8,150 (2012 Aerial Moose Survey.) The balance of life

is fragile, and we can’t always rely on mathematical population models to

determine success. 

In every argument, I believe that one should acknowledge the

other side’s position and a solution should be addressed. I’ve stated here that

my fear is, that without the protection from the law I fear for the longevity

of the wolf.  As history has shown me that

hunters and cattle raisers are not responsible stewards of wolves. I am even

more fearful because the agency that is supposed to work without bias has

demonstrated their preference in aligning with hunters/trapper and cattleman.

If the DNR, had come up with some sound data and research, considered public

comment, abided by their wolf management plan, and consulted with tribal

nations on the sacredness of wolves, I would have probably just bit my tongue

in opposing the wolf hunt.  I would have

suggested that tribal treaty areas are respected due to the sacred nature of

the wolf, and that the quota be lowered to no more than 5% (that’s the number

one biologist I talked with recommended as being sustainable.)

So the battle goes on, as now I urge Minnesotans living in

the areas of Hibbing, Virginia, Chisholm areas to contact their House of

Representative-David Tomassoni (Chair of the Senate Environment Finance

committee) to voice their stance on the wolf hunt.  The bill that will reinstate the 5 year wait

was passed in the senate on March 14th and is now on its way to the

Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division.  A hearing will need to take place by next

Friday, March 22nd.