Founder's Blog

Preparing for Wolf Day

April 2, 2018 - Leslie Rosedahl
Organizing all the pieces for a large event like Wolf Day starts about six months ahead of time – because the team at Howling For Wolves values each wolf supporter’s time and advocacy efforts. We know the more planning and thoughtfulness we can do, the more effective Wolf Day at the Capitol will be, and that makes a difference for the wolf! 
 
This upcoming Wolf Day (on April 11) will be the fifth Wolf Day I’ve assisted Howling For Wolves President and Founder Maureen Hackett. My primary role, year round with HFW, is media and communications – making sure we’re heard in the media to influence the public and decision-makers. Dr. Hackett and I work closely together on press releases, opinion pieces, social media posts, and more. Garnering media attention is a big part of Wolf Day too. We gather in the Capitol Rotunda to rally and represent the wolf - and that’s a terrific and attractive visual for television reporters/cameras to use in their stories, and we set aside time for Dr. Hackett to personally visit with reporters at the event, as well as pitch a press release that day to statewide media outlets. (We are usually pretty successful – having 4-5 media outlets cover Wolf Day!)
 
Another part of my role for Wolf Day is finding the right words to help wolf supporters tell the Howling For Wolves story during Wolf Day. Every year Dr. Hackett and I update all materials we put in the folders: the HFW “backgrounder,” “legislative priorities,” “wolf facts,” “exit survey,” “daily agenda,” etc. All handouts need new formatting with the new logos, new updated information, etc. 
 
Also, a large amount of time (hours!) is spent thinking through the right words for the emails we send to likely attendees hoping to motivate and recruit to join us at the Capitol. I usually take the first draft of the emails– and Dr. Hackett always has edits. Lots of edits! And they are working – we already have over 125 advocates RSVP’d for the Wolf Day 2018!
 
I work with Sophie, who uses the addresses that people submit for registration and checks to see what senator and representative represent them. Then she makes an individual meeting request to that legislator’s legislative assistant (their staff person). On any given day, there are MANY Days at the Capitol in St. Paul (probably 10-15?) so sometimes we compete for meeting times with other organizations and have to make our case. More often than not we’re competing for the legislators’ time against existing committee meetings, House and Senate floor sessions that are called at the last minute, etc., where legislators are required to vote. We try our best to make sure that there is enough time between the House member meeting and the Senate member meeting, but it can get pretty tight if only one time is available. Many legislators don’t know their final schedule for the day until the last minute, or their scheduled changed because of last-minute committee meetings or floor session votes, so right up to the night before we’re changing and re-arranging schedules. The morning of Wolf Day, even after we need to print the schedule, there will always be 5-10 meetings changed. It works best to schedule meetings for people on their behalf – as opposed to having attendees do it – because first, we know it can be complicated to make the request. Secondly, there are normally several people in that House or Senate member’s district, and it’s confusing to have several requests into a legislator’s office for the same meeting. Lastly, it’s easiest for one person to be the point of contact for all scheduling issues.
 
Ila, the fantastic Howling For Wolves volunteer coordinator who also helps with various administrative items, also helps with Wolf Day by making all the folders – printing handouts, stuffing the folders, stickering the front. She also helps organize the nametags, and the HFW T-shirts as everyone has a specific size they’ve required. (That’s a big job!) Ila also works with several other volunteers to organize buses. (That’s also a big job!) This year, we have buses coming from Duluth and St. Cloud. Ila also takes your questions via phone and email, orders the food, and organizes the volunteer duties too!
 
Many of our wolf advocates live in the same legislative district and will be together for their meetings with representatives. For example, we are excited to send nine advocates to meet with Senator Pappas  This is our largest group in one district so far this year. 
 
Howling For Wolves works with professional lobbyists to make sure our legislative priorities and agenda are always top of mind for legislators in committee meetings, etc. They work with bill authors and legislators on bill hearings, draft amendments, and work with the Governor’s office and other political leaders in support of the priorities of Howling For Wolves. Priorities include:
  • Removing the automatic and reckless wolf trophy hunt in current Minnesota law
  • Eliminating snaring of all wildlife
  • Requiring permission to trap on private land
  • Continuing to support farmers with preventative nonlethal strategies to avoid wolf conflict
 
New to the Howling For Wolves Legislative Priorities this year is a bill to lift the ban on treating injured wolves. Right now, the Minnesota DNR prohibits Minnesota’s wildlife rehabilitation professionals from providing treatment to a wolf, regardless of the circumstances. It should not be a crime to rescue a threatened species from human-caused trauma! 
 
More work preparing for Wolf Day includes updating the PowerPoint presentations (at the briefing and rally), thank you cards to legislators, and most importantly for some of us, breakfast foods!
All of these pieces come together on Wolf Day to make sure that our advocates can have the best day at the Capitol possible – we know it’s not easy to take time off work and come to a sometimes intimidating and ceremonial place, and we want to be the strongest advocates for the wolf because she needs us. 
 
Almost 200 wolves were killed last year in 2017 by government agents alone, even while on the Endangered Species List. And those are just the ones we know about and are reported. There is more work to do!
 
For the wolf to be around for future generations, we need to do the best job we can advocating for her at the State Capitol – because that’s where momentous decisions are made. 
I hope you can join us this year.
 

HFW's Response to the news of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services budget extension request

October 21, 2017 - Maureen Hackett, MD

 

On October 18, Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and US Representatives Peterson, Walz, Nolan, and Emmer signed a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund an 11-week extension of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services to bait and kill wolves in areas where livestock have been killed by predation. The killing is done by baiting and trapping in the area in response to a livestock loss by a wolf, as confirmed by the agency. Minnesota’s lawmakers cited an increased need for more wolf killing as due to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wolf estimate that alleges a 25% increase in the states’ wolf population.

The Wildlife Services branch of the USDA-APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Services) in Grand Rapids, MN has run out of operational funds 11 weeks before the end of the year, citing an increased number of wolves killed, up from 179 per year on average to 197 wolves this year. Note that it is the wolves that are being killed in increasing numbers. In fact, we now know that the actual complaints are down by 27% over last year. This agency has been known to spend its annual budget by the late fall because the peak season for problems with livestock and wolves is between May and September. The connection between a "surging" wolf population and Wildlife Services running out of money is completely misleading. Complaints are actually down, and wolf estimates are still lower than they were 10 years ago.

USDA-APHIS kills wolves in response to confirmed livestock losses by baiting all the wolves in an area. There is no information obtained as to whether the baited wolves are “offending” wolves. Wildlife Services now kills 2-3 wolves per confirmed predation on livestock instead of 1-2 wolves killed per complaint 10 years ago. The fact that the Grand Rapids based Wildlife Services has used their budget because they are killing more wolves can be due to many factors including the fact that they are killing more wolves in response to each individual confirmed predation on livestock. In essence—they are a lethal first model instead of a lethal last model. Killing wolves leads can lead to more livestock killing. A program that seeks to reduce conflicts with livestock solely by killing wolves is counter-productive and risks repeating the mistakes of the 1800’s. Research has demonstrated that lethal responses to wolf predation on livestock is associated with more livestock lost the following year. This occurs up until so many wolves are killed (about 25% of the population) that ethey are no longer able to reproduce enough to show this effect. This is thought due to the destabilization of packs to such a point that they cannot hunt effectively or never have the opportunity to learn, resulting in a reliance on livestock as a food source. In essence, killing wolves kills livestock. Minnesota's own data back to 1988, as reported by the USDA's Wildlife Services supports this finding. Most years showing increased predation on livestock follows years where higher numbers of wolves were killed in Minnesota.

Ironically, this request for increased funds for lethal methods comes just days after the announcement from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture of a Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grant which provides reimbursement for farmers and livestock producers who implement nonlethal methods to reduce and prevent wolf-livestock encounters. In Minnesota, farmers who are willing to attempt to avoid problems with wolves and by extension stabilize the wolf population now have funding for nonlethal prevention methods. Ultimately this has been shown to be less expensive and to reduce conflicts and thus unnecessary wolf killing. Lethal methods must be the last resort because baiting wolves to the area where the conflicts occurred, is the exact opposite of what nonlethal deterrence does. Nonlethal methods are meant to keep the wolf away by setting up a boundary using various scare methods and even guard animals. It is the goal of nonlethal to stop or at least slow the wolf and livestock killing cycle by letting the packs stabilize and learn to avoid these areas.

The lawmakers’ request for more funding to bait and trap wolves refers to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) headline that the wolf population has increased by 25%. It is ludicrous to claim that an increased population of the gray wolf has led to an apocalypse scenario for Minnesota's livestock. The DNR’s estimate of wolf numbers is not a “count.”  It is a statistical method that has never been confirmed to actually reflect the real numbers of wolves in MN.

The “bipartisan” support for continued and increased funds for lethal methods was announced by citing the need to protect people and pets due to the "increased" wolf numbers. This appears to be these politicians' supporting our farmers. We agree that farmers in Minnesota should be supported in their tolerance for the wolf. We especially appreciate the nonlethal funding that was passed into law this past spring by our state lawmakers. Now we hope that the lethal methods will be reduced and used as a last resort while we attempt to engage more interest in using nonlethal prevention methods. This all comes at a time when the federal endangered species protection of the wolf is in jeopardy. The Minnesota federal lawmakers who are co-sponsoring bills to remove the federal protection of the wolf are those who are also advocating for the increased funding for lethal methods. We hope to engage these particular lawmakers into further understanding that wolf killing can make matters worse for farmers which is why we are supporting a "nonlethal first" policy.

#LiveAndLetHowl

 

 

Amazing new studies about wolves social behavior

October 17, 2017 - Peter Peterson Senior

Over the centuries people knew about wolves cooperation while hunting in packs. One of the best reflections of this knowledge is Rudyard Kipling's The Law of the Jungle (read the whole poem here):

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."

While Kipling's poem shows his deep intuitive understanding of wolf behavior, many people and many zoo logists considered wolves not much more than vicious killing automatons running in packs. Recently there was a string of studies exploring and learning much more about cognitive and social abilities of wolves. And in the process, challenging some of our judgements, assumptions and prejudices. I list links to 4 representative studies accompanied by short quotations, and leave it to the reader to enjoy exploring the study reviews. Go to the links below:

Dog-human cooperation is based on social skills of wolves, January 2015
The author's "hypothesis states that since wolves already are tolerant, attentive and cooperative, the relationship of wolves to their pack mates could have provided the basis for today's human-dog relationship."

Sensitivity to inequity is in wolves' and dogs' blood, June 2017
"Not only dogs but also wolves react to inequity - similar to humans or primates. This has been confirmed in a new study by comparative psychologists of the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. Wolves and dogs refused to cooperate in an experiment when only the partner got a treat or they themselves received a lower quality reward."

Wolves understand cause and effect better than dogs, September 2017
"Domestic dogs may have lost some of their innate animal skill when they came in from the wild, according to new research conducted at the Wolf Science Center in Austria."

Wolves found to be more cooperative with their own kind than dogs with theirs, October 2017
"Wolves outperformed dogs, despite comparable levels of interest in the task."

 

 

Democracy and the Gray wolf Depend on the Courts

August 6, 2017 - Maureen Hackett, MD

We are elated with the decision of the US Court of Appeals  (for the District of Columbia Circuit) to keep the Western Great Lakes wolf listed as federally protected and on the endangered species list.  We remain humble, but elated nonetheless. The Court of Appeals' decision was narrow in their affirmation of the lower district courts opinion to keep the Western Great Lakes wolf federally protected. Their opinion addressed the core principle and tactic used to delist the Western Great Lakes wolf population by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service). According to the Court of Appeals, the Service did not even attempt to protect the remaining “remnant” wolf population outside the Great Lakes' area in the lower 48 states. The Court of Appeals agreed that while it is within the Service's purview to delist a distinct population segment, the Service was not doing so in a manner that protected the wolf species as a whole.  It was nearly inconsequential how well the Western Great Lakes wolves were faring, if they could not address the fate of the wolf population throughout the lower 48 states. The Service never addressed how the remnant population would fare once the Western Great Lakes wolves were not protected. The Service had delineated the Western Great Lakes wolf population as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS).  This segment status, which the courts found appropriate, was then delisted by the Service without determining how the rest of the gray wolf population would do if the DPS was not protected. That is, the Service did not consider the effects of delisting the DPS (Western Great Lakes) on the rest of the wolf population.  

The court of appeals cited the Services’ own notice to delist wolves throughout the lower 48 in June 2013, to demonstrate that the Service had not addressed the rest of the wolf population outside of the Western Great Lakes. The Service was not even attempting to consider the “remnant” populations throughout their historic range.  The Court of Appeals stated on page 30 of their opinion, “Worse still, the Service has announced that, with the Western Great Lakes segment carved out, the remnant is no longer a protectable “species” and has proposed its delisting for that reason alone. See Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis Lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Maintaining Protections for the Mexican Wolf (Canis Lupus Baileyi) by listing it as Endagered, 78 Fed Reg. 35,664, 35,668 (June 13, 2013) (‘We conclude that the current entity C. Lupus [gray wolf] entity is not a valid species from the List[.]’)

A significant question addressed was whether the delisting negatively affected the Western Great Lakes wolf in Minnesota. The data introduced at the original trial was from 2007-2008, prior to Minnesota’s three consecutive wolf hunts in 2012, 2013, and 2014.  This older data was interpreted to be from a time when the wolf population was delisted (briefly from 2007-2008). There was no recognition that this was a time with no wolf hunting and trapping seasons. The original court filings were done in early 2013 too soon for the wolf population estimates published in the summer of 2013. Minnesota’s more recent data does show a negative affect on the wolf population from the 2012 delisting. In that period ( 2012-2014) over 1700 wolves (known) were killed and the estimated wolf counts dropped 25% the first year of delisting in 2012 and they have stayed down since then.

The Court of Appeals did not agree with the trial court that the state of Minnesota had an “unregulated wolf hunting season” in two-thirds of the state.  Today, we have evidence (using the Court of Appeals’ own standards) that the most recent delisting did harm the wolf in Minnesota.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported in 2014 to the Service that the population dropped by 24% the first year following delisting.  While the Court of Appeals did not agree with the trial judge about the harm to the wolf population, we at HFW know if this were ever re-litigated, evidence for this harm now exists.

For now, we are elated that the wolf hunts in Minnesota were stopped by the District Court and now by the Court of Appeals.  Our work at HFW continues. We have much to do toward educating the public about the wild wolf and in particular about using nonlethal methods as a first response to potential conflicts. For political action, we will persuade our federal politicians to see that the current Senate bill (S.1514) is extremely reckless. It contains a provision that sets unbelievably dangerous precedents. First, that congress is engaging in the nitty-gritty of the science of a species listings and worse and more dangerous, cutting out the courts and allowing congress to cherry pick their favorite laws from which to block the courts.  Sounds unconstitutional? It does to many people. See our earlier blog for the specific wording of S.1514 and tell your US Senator that you do not want S.1514 to pass with this horrific precedent and wolf reissue rule.

We have a democracy that depends on the courts, and so does the wolf.

Court of Appeals: https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/9EDB5CE0814D2B948525816F00511636/$file/15-5041.pdf

#LiveAndLet Howl

Maureen

 

 

HELP for Wildlife Act and delisting the wolves. Again, and again, and again.

July 28, 2017 - Peter Peterson Senior

The enemies of environment are at it again. In the best Orwellian trend, reminiscent of GW Bush presidency, senators Barrasso, Cardin, Boozman, Klobuchar, Capito, and Baldwin hatched another amendment to a bill S.1514 named "Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act" or the "HELP for Wildlife Act".

Among many anti-environmental clauses, two are yet another attempt to delist the Great Lakes wolves, and the US wolves in general, quote:

"SEC. 7. Reissuance of final rule regarding gray wolves in Western Great Lakes.
Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on December 28, 2011 (76 Fed. Reg. 81666), without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance shall not be subject to judicial review."

"SEC. 8. Reissuance of final rule regarding gray wolves in Wyoming.
The final rule published on September 10, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 55530) that was reinstated on March 3, 2017, by the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (No. 14–5300) and further republished on May 1, 2017 (82 Fed. Reg. 20284–85) that reinstates the removal of Federal protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, shall not be subject to judicial review."

Note the often repeated refrain, very likely contrary to the US Constitution, at the end of each section: "shall not be subject to judicial review". They clearly indicate that the authors are duly afraid that their ammendment may be overturned by a court, and attempt to introduce a statement that they hope would prevent this.

You can see the amendment at this link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1514

 

 

THE WOLF IN AMERICAN POLITICS

January 29, 2017 - Dr. Michael W. Fox, author of The Soul of the Wolf

The wolf in America has become a political symbol of a nation divided: Divided between the takers and exploiters and protectors and conservators of wolves and the last of the wild. Wolves are in the crosshairs again of legislators bent on passing legislation (without judicial review) in Senate Bill 164 to take away the specie’s federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Such legislation ignores the vital role of wolves in maintaining healthy forests, deer, elk and biodiversity. It replaces that role with the arrogant assumption that we can do better without wolves as wildlife and wild lands managers and “harvest” them on a sustainable basis for recreational trophy sports hunters and trappers.

Abnormally high deer populations fostered by State departments of natural resources and by recreational deer feeding stations of private land owners have helped decimate habitat quality and diversity, helped spread chronic wasting and other deer diseases, some communicable to humans such as Lyme disease that has become a significant, nation-wide public health issue.

De-listing wolves will open their domain to mining, logging and other destructive human incursions and they will suffer and die under the renewed assault of the publicly subsidized beef industry and legions of hunters and trappers.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Democracy Index, the U.S. government has been downgraded and is no longer classed as a “full democracy.” It never will be so long as its native flora and fauna, its indigenous peoples and species, communities and domains continue to be marginalized. The informed majority of America can stop this destructive juggernaut of vested interests by urging their Senators to oppose Senate Bill 164 because in the protection of the wolf lies the preservation and restoration of  democratic process, eco-justice and a sane and humane society.

 

 

Dr. Maureen Hackett interview with WCCO AM830 at John Hines Show

September 1, 2016 - Howling For Wolves

Howling For Wolves President Dr. Maureen Hackett featured in WCCO AM830 radio program - John Hines Show from MN State Fair on August 31, 2016. Dr. Hackett covered many issues related to survival of wolves, environment and latest developments from legislative perspective. Click on the image below to hear the interview.

 

 

Congressional Threats to the Wolf

June 23, 2016 - Howling For Wolves

The following bills contain language that would delist the gray wolf.  The language is in a variety of bills; from appropriations bills (which fund the federal government) as legislative riders (language attached to spending bills that contain policy language rather than just spending levels) to stand-alone bills.

Below is a list of bills pending in Congress as of June 23, 2016:

  • FY 2017 House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill

The House Appropriations Committee passed out the FY 17 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill on June 15, on a party-line vote of 31-18 (all 31 Republicans on the Committee voted to pass the bill while all 18 Democrats on the Committee voted against it).  Like Interior Appropriations bills before it, the legislation was loaded with more than 30 legislative riders, including the wolf delisting rider.  The language in the bill reads:

Reissuance of Final Rules
“Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act,     the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on December 28, 2011  (76 Fed. Reg. 81666 et seq.) and the final rule published on September 10, 2012  (77 Fed. Reg. 55530 et seq.), without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rules.  Such reissuances (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review.”

During markup of the bill before the full Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) offered an amendment to strip all legislative riders (also referred to as poison pills) from the bill.  This amendment was defeated on a party-line vote – meaning all Republicans voted against the McCollum amendment and all Democrats voted in favor of it.

  • FY 2017 Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations bill

An Appropriations bill needs to pass both the House and Senate.  Since Republicans control both the House and Senate, the outcome of these bills is often the same. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed out the FY 17 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill on Thursday, June 16, on a party-line vote.  Like in the House Committee the day before, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) offered an amendment stripping the bill of all legislative riders.  And, like in the House, one of the riders in the Senate version was the wolf delisting rider, identical to the House’s version.  Senator Udall’s amendment failed on a party-line vote of 16-14 (all 16 Republicans on the Committee voted against the amendment and all 14 Democrats on the Committee voted in favor of the amendment) and the bill was voted out of Committee on a party line vote.

  • S. 2012 – House Energy Policy Package

S. 2012 passed at the end of May with almost 40 separate pieces of legislation attached to it.  One bill that was attached to it was HR 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage & Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act).  The SHARE Act was passed earlier in the House with a wolf delisting amendment attached.  HR 8, the Houses energy bill, now has wolf delisting language in it.  The bill passed 241-178 with all but 8 Democrats voting for it and all but 6 Republicans voting against.

  • S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

S. 659 is one of two Sportsmen Act bills in the Senate.  This version, introduced by Senator Sullivan (R-AK), was marked up in February by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  During markup Senator Barrasso (R-WY) offered a wolf delisting amendment that was passed and made a part of the bill.  This bill has not been scheduled for debate on the floor.

  • HR 843, Western Great Lakes Wolf Management Act

HR 843 was sponsored by Representative Kline (R-MN) and would delist the gray wolf.  This bill was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee in February where it sits today.  

  • S. 2876 and HR 2910, the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan Act and the Mexican Gray Wolf Transparency & Accountability Act

These bills were introduced by Senator Flake (R-AZ) and Representative Gosar (R-AZ), both of Arizona, earlier this year and sit in their respective committees.  Both bills would delist the Mexican gray wolf.

  • HR 1985, the Pacific Northwest Gray Wolf Management Act

This bill was introduced by Representative Newhouse R-WA) in April and hasn’t moved from Committee.  Like the other bills on the list, it would delist the gray wolf in the Pacific Northwest.

As of now, that’s all of the anti-wolf bills pending before Congress.  Language to delist can be added to any legislation that is deemed germane and there is every indication to believe the anti-wolf forces in the House and Senate will continue their assault on the wolf until they succeed. 

 

 

The Minnesota Moose and Wolves

February 9, 2016 - Joe Wolf

A Star Tribune article published Feb 7, 2016 raises the possibility that wolves are somehow responsible for the decline of moose populations in Minnesota and that this might justify a wolf hunt, thereby excusing trophy killing.  Before this article is taken at face value, we need to look more carefully at the myriad claims, most of which are unsubstantiated.  The article itself provides the proof that this simple minded assumption of cause and effect is wrong.  The charts provided by the Star tribune show higher moose (and deer) populations at the same time the most wolves were counted in Minnesota.  If wolf and moose populations are inextricably linked, we should want more wolves, not fewer.  Perhaps the argument is the non sequitur that because wolves have been observed to feed on sick and dead moose, the removal of wolves would not make these sick individuals get better.   Moose are declining in places like New Hampshire where wolves are non-existent.   Moose are not dying off in Isle Royale where there are wolves (but no deer).

 The statement that wolves have maximized their range has no scientific basis: it is an assertion by Dr. Mech because he has seen wolves that are “skinny”, like the moose.  Moose could very well be suffering more deaths from illness because of warmer winters and hotter summers due to climate change combined with pervasive habitat destruction.  The survival of the parasite afflicting moose may also be enhanced by these warmer conditions year-round.  I suspect Dr. Mech has not researched this possibility, in spite of his blather targeting wolves for slaughter.

Could it be that Dr. Mech’s study wolves are also suffering from issues tied to a generally declining ecosystem?  Many scientists believe we are witnessing a mass extinction of wild animal populations due to human carelessness and greedy behavior.  Under these global circumstances, it is irresponsible to insinuate that killing wolves will keep moose from dying or other wolves from starving.  It is a razor thin (and baseless) judgment to claim it is better to kill wolves to hang on the wall rather than let nature take the chance that some will starve.  Wolf hunters do not select individual animals to shoot for the “worst or best” genes for survival, let alone to compensate for specific environmental problems.  I suspect no trophy hunter has ever massaged a wolf “feeling their every bone” to decide if it was the right wolf to kill, even if he had the time. That being the case, DNA analysis to decide which wolves to spare for the benefit of the species before pulling the trigger is pretty much ruled out.  Seems to me that mankind has never gotten it right, even when armed with the latest in technology.  To suggest that a trophy hunt is a measured or controlled way to preserve a species is pure hokum.

Wolves have NOT been shown to be the cause of declining moose populations, but trophy hunters will jump on any excuse to kill them.  Wolves have it hard enough and they too, will disappear when their food source is gone.  After three years of reckless wolf hunting, Minnesota wolf populations have been pushed down to levels last seen since 1988, never mind the moose question.  Lobbying for another year of trophy killing is irresponsible, dangerous and without a shred of justification, scientific or otherwise.
 

 

We Owe the Wolf a Great Debt, One With Compounding Interest

December 1, 2015 - Barry W. Babcock

Two issues loom in my mind lately.

One is a troubling question of why not allow “fair chase” hunters who are not necessarily part of the wolf-hating crowd to kill a wolf in a managed hunt.

The second is the attempt by Congress including one of our current Minnesota Senators to permanently de-list the Great Lakes wolf from the Endangered Species list.

Some background and history concerning the wolf hysteria:
It is easy to disarm the arguments of deer hunters who call for zero tolerance for wolves or advocate for a kill as high as 750 annually or brazenly want them wiped out. These arguments are based on their bizarre claim that there is a scarcity of deer in Minnesota. Since 2000 to 2015, Minnesota has had the largest whitetail deer population in our history. This has been the “golden age” of deer hunting in Minnesota. According the MN DNR, the deer herd has varied between one million to one and quarter million during this same period. These same years of record deer numbers have also coincided with the largest wolf population in our state’s history - 3,200 wolves prior to the states three wolf hunts. I am not implying that three thousand wolves are responsible for over a million deer. The reason for these deer numbers are our land practices. For three to four decades, Minnesota’s public lands were tree farms for the orientated stand board plants and pulp wood industries. These extractive wood industries created ideal habitat for deer.

Wildlife managers have repeatedly made the claims that the wolf density in northern Minnesota is the highest in North America and I would not argue this but this has nothing to do with wolves being over populated. Wolves are living in balance with their prey base. What it does say is that our deer herd is enormous. If one wants to lower the wolf population, lower the deer population. Any predator population will be indicative to its prey base.

As for the outcry from the Ag sector concerning livestock losses, this is in some cases a legitimate issue that needs to be dealt with quickly and with measures that focus on the “problem” wolves and not non-offending wolves but this too can easily be disarmed.

The last year that depredation numbers were made available from the FWS was 2011. In this year, only slightly over 200 complaints or 1.7% of farms in MN had confirmed claims of depredation by wolves which included cows, calves, geese, llamas, and dogs.

USDA statistics at the end of 2014 show Minnesota with a cattle herd of 2,300,000. The article indicates 66 calves and 17 cows (total 83) were killed by wolves. That is 83 killed by wolves out of 2,300,000 head. That means, in 2014 the wolf depredation was .0038% of the total cattle herd.

Also, the USDA at the end of 2014, the USDA states; Minnesota had a sheep herd of about 130,000. 12 sheep were killed by wolves. That is .0092% of the herd were killed by wolves.

Now with the reality check done on wolf haters and livestock issue dealt with, the troubling question of why not allow “fair chase” hunters who are not necessarily part of the wolf-hating crowd to take a wolf on a managed hunt. This has been for some time a difficult problem for me to address. Often I question myself and ask myself, “why not, these people do not want to wipe out wolves.” They want to keep a sustainable population out there so there will continue to be wolves to hunt.

As I was mulling this question in my head, as I have often done, I often recall something that had a great impact on me about twenty years ago. At that time my wife and I owned and operated a small motel in northern Minnesota and one winter day we were cleaning rooms together and had the TV’s on, as we normally do while we made beds and cleaned rooms. A Discovery channel or some similar channel was on and airing a program about wolves. A segment of the film had what appeared to be an old 8 MM movie camera clip filming a tractor and wagon pulling up to a poisoned laced deer or elk carcass. Around the carcass were many dead wolves with a few foxes and bobcats. Several men were lifting the lifeless bodies of wolves on their shoulders and throwing them on the wagon as though they were cordwood. As one large wolf appearing to me to be a large male was hoisted up around the neck of this human, I could see he was still conscious, though dying, and lifted his head with open eyes. This gruesome scene shook me to the core. An epiphany took place at that time in my life. What we have done to wolves on earth for thousands of years was not just a wrong against particular specie – it is a cosmic sin. If there is a God, Creator, Mother Earth, a transcendental and innate wrong, an intelligent power greater than ourselves, we will forever be judged as having committed a cosmic sin.

I have always admired and sought out wolves but from that day in the motel cleaning rooms, seeing that dying wolf open his eyes in his desire and lust for life, I realized then that we owe the wolf a deep debt. This is a debt that will not be compensated overnight. It is a debt with compounding interest.

To rush into a hunting season on wolves as rashly as our elected officials, our governor, and DNR managers have done and look the other way as the demented wolf haters have been unleashed again, even though a few or some hunters just want to kill a wolf in a sustainable fashion is compounding this debt.

I remember somewhere reading an account in Barry Lopez’s book “Of Wolves and Men” about an old wolf trapper in northern Minnesota. The old trapper, who apparently lost his reason for living with the wolves out of his life, told of a time when checking his trap line and found a large, beautiful, black male wolf with his leg in a foothold trap. The wolf looked at him and lifted his foot as if to ask the trapper, “help me” and the trapper thought of how he wanted to let him go and live but then thought, “I need the bounty money” and shot him.

We will never be able to achieve peace in our time unless we live life in that “good” way towards all the life forms we share this earth with. I am a hunter and will to continue to hunt deer and partridge but the wolf, for me and others, should never be hunted. Wolves, along with other predators, have an important job to do, and that is being in balance with the world.

 

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