As Minnesota DNR rushed a hunting season shortly after Ma’iigan was taken off the Endangered Species List. Supporters of Ma’iigan take to the state legislature to enlist a five year wait on wolf hunting.
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
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.