Founder's Blog

US Congressional Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries hearing of 05/03/2024, Sandstone, MN

May 11, 2024 - Maureen Hackett

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber

Last week, the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Chairman Cliff Bentz and U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber hosted a hearing in Northern Minnesota to discuss/promote the delisting of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.

Other speakers included Representatives Michelle Fischbach, Harriet Hageman, Tom Tiffany, and Celeste Maloy. The speakers, all Republicans, made many unsubstantiated and outrageous claims about gray wolf recovery, its impact on local wildlife, livestock, and pets, and argued for returning management to the states. This hearing pandered to anti-wolf groups and focused on fear-mongering over the facts. We’d like to note that the USFWS and Minnesota DNR declined an invite to this hearing, which is a good sign that we are not the only ones who see the negative, self-serving agenda of these legislators.

The following are comments submitted by HFW to the committee on May 8, 2024: Howling for Wolves is a Minnesota based wolf advocacy organization that started in 2012. These are some of our concerns raised by the testimony provided at the May 3, 2024 subcommittee hearing in Sandstone Minnesota.

The issue of human safety was raised several times in a dramatic fashion during the hearing. The state of Minnesota has laws that allow for the killing of any animal, endangered or not, in the pursuit of human safety. The repeated statements about human safety mislead the public into believing that wolves are dangerous and that we have no way to handle that danger. This is not true. 

Hunters 4 Hunters carrying misinformation

Wolves die in many ways now and will be killed in many ways after they are delisted even without a wolf hunt. The constant outcry for a wolf hunt skips this important fact. At the current time there are high numbers of wolf mortalities as demonstrated by a 16-year-long collared wolf study by the state’s DNR from 2004-2016. The last initiation of wolf hunts in 2012 ignited wolf killing that is illegal and continuous through more than five years after the hunts ended to an annual mortality of 43%. The data ended in 2019. That is a 43% mortality annually and a more than tripling of human-caused wolf deaths since those hunts started in 2012 and lasting long after the hunts ended. In other words, legal wolf killing leads to more illegal wolf killing. Even the Voyageurs wolf project had a 54% mortality of their wolves this past year. The state cannot keep Minnesota’s wolves safe from poaching and the hearing ignored this fact. Reference: The Minnesota Daily dated April 21, 2024 by Logan Anderson.

The testimony of an expert from the College of the Ozarks stated that wolves can survive a 29% mortality rate as sustainable. While we can argue what is sustainable in terms of genetics and avoiding long-term extinction, I think you will agree that 29% is a lot less than what is happening to our wolves in Minnesota now. When wolves are constantly being killed and then reproducing at younger rates with smaller packs—nonlethal methods become less effective and there is more pressure on livestock due to the smaller and younger packs.

While I appreciate the attempt to establish a mortality threshold, the focus on a single number raises several questions. First, it's crucial to consider the specific context of Minnesota's wolf population and its unique dynamics. General mortality rates derived from different ecosystems might not be directly applicable.

HFW Founder Dr. Maureen Hackett

If this high mortality rate is already occurring, primarily due to human caused wolf deaths such as conflict, vehicle collisions, and poaching, further population reduction through a public wolf hunt is unnecessary and potentially very detrimental to wolves. But worse is that it increases the poaching already occurring. Beyond immediate population levels, we must consider the long-term health and sustainability of the wolf population. A critical factor in maintaining a healthy population is genetic diversity and stable packs that control their territories and hunt deer. High and sustained mortality rates can lead to inbreeding and ultimately threaten the population's long-term viability.

This hearing ignored the science that we already have in Minnesota on our wolves. But worse it ignored all of the work we must do to prepare to keep wolves recovering once they are delisted and in turn the work required to demonstrate to the FWS that wolves can survive delisting. At this point we have much work to do to change the attitudes around killing wolves. The subcommittee took us several steps backwards.



A perspective on wolves and deer from a deer hunter

March 1, 2024 - Barry W. Babcock

     In northern Minnesota we have a 2 week firearms deer season. This 2014 season was from November 8th to sundown on the 23rd. Several events this year are note worthy enough to cite here.

     1. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) held a series of public meetings with the MN DNR last year in order to arm twist them into acknowledging that the deer herd is drastically down. The MDHA, which the DNR considers a "client," bowed to the MDHA wishes and greatly curtailed the number of doe permits which made the season (mostly) bucks only.

     My take on this: The Minnesota deer herd, if down, is still too high. Deer numbers are impacting the ecology of our forests. Nearly all forest ecologists agree that behind climate change, an over populated deer herd is number 2 in posing a threat to the health and longevity of MN's forests. As for the poor hunter success rates of tagging whitetails by the states deer hunters is more the cause & effect of too many hunters who have become dependent on a plethora of gadgets. From what I see and hear from others, the vast majority of hunters rely on ATV's to get anywhere in the woods during the hunt. One need look no further than the thick catalog of Cabala's to see where many hunters focus their attention. Deer are nocturnal animals and with tens of thousands of ATV's rumbling throughout Minnesota's forest lands during the hunting season, it's no doubt that the numbers of deer harvested (I don't like that term "harvest") is down. Who but anyone in their right mind would doubt this. In the woods around me, opening morning sounds like military maneuvers at Camp Ripley. It's tail gates dropping, ATV ramps banging, two stroke engines warming and noisy engines heading off into the land of the elusive whitetail deer.

     2. The weather during this entire period was below normal in temperatures and saw some winds that were persistently strong.

     My take: If you are a serious hunter, there are ways to effectively hunt in these conditions. One very effective way is to "still hunt", which is slowly taking a few steps, then stopping and looking and listening, then repeating this stop and go method - the movement helps keep the blood moving, something hard to do if you can't get your butt off your ATV seat. When bucks are in rut and does are in estrus, they will move, unless the woods is full of motorized traffic....then deer wait till sundown when the noisy machines and ignorant hunters leave.

     3. And the presence of wolves and the third MN wolf hunt with 250 permits issued is also another issue with hunters.

     My take: During the entire week preceding the rifle hunt, I was in the woods daily with my stick bow. During this period, I saw unbelievable numbers of deer and most especially some nice mature bucks. Once opening weekend of the rifle season started, the numbers of deer I saw dropped about 50%. Deer have always tended to become more nocturnal during the gun season but during the last 20 years this tendency has greatly increased. I attribute this to the modern gadget addicted hunter rather then having hunters who have the basic understanding of the habits of white tailed deer which I refer to as being the soul of caution.

     Last Thursday evening well after sundown, I and my son-in-law heard a pack of wolves howling quite persistently at a distance of not more than 200 yards from my backdoor. During the next 2 days, we saw between 12 and 15 deer. And they were heard again at sunrise on Friday but at a greater distance. Now, I am not suggesting that the deer we saw is wholly attributable to the wolves but I am saying that wolves move deer around and that's a good thing for hunters like me. A deer has senses more acutely attuned to his world than our meager understanding will ever grasp. They can, in a metaphysical sense, disappear into thin air from us dumb humans. Wolves root them out and move them around. As I have written before, as among most Indian people, including the Koyukon's of Alaska, see the wolf as “the master predator among the animals of the north, possessing intelligence and strength, keen senses, and above all the ability to hunt cooperatively. Like the humans that they watch from afar, wolves multiply their muscle and mind by cooperating in pursuit of prey, then share the spoils. Indeed, for the Koyukon, the similarity between wolves and humans is no coincidence – in the Distant Time, a wolf-person lived among people and hunted with them. When they parted ways, they agreed that wolves would sometimes make kills for people or drive game to them, as a repayment for favors given when wolves were still human.” [Make Prayers to the Raven,” Richard K. Nelson, p.159]

     In hook & bullet publications and letters to editors I read extreme embellishments of the number of wolves in N MN. Hunters report seeing more wolf tracks than deer tracks, that wolves are out of balance and need management, and wolves going on killing sprees. I live in the woods, I study the interactions of all wildlife and I do not see this. Yes, there are wolves distributed throughout the northwoods but as for claims of our forests being over taken by wolves is just ridiculous. Wolves do a good job of remaining in balance within their range. It is the whitetail whose numbers exceed the sustainability of the forest. I have been hunting deer for a half century. I have a perspective that most hunters do not. In the 1960's, with wolves absent from most of their current range, deer population was without question, the lowest it has been in my lifetime. The deer population from 2000 up to today has exceeded one million - the largest numbers of whitetails in history. This same period (2000 to 2014) coincides with a steady population of 3,000 wolves. How do these anti-wolf hunters explain this?

     Time after time, I see the wolf as an asset rather than a liability. Hunters need to get out of that group think mentality and observe more closely the plant and animal communities in which they hunt. Hunting was never meant to be a 21st century gadget driven pass-time till the recreational-industrial complex got into the equation, it was and is meant to be a link with our far distant past. It is to be a port-hole into that past. It is not the job of government resource departments to make game farms out of the northwoods. We are still lucky to have a semblance of wildness in our northern forests. Remove the wolf and the wildness is gone. As Wisconsin's great conservationist, Aldo Leopold said, "...the autumn landscape in the north woods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a ruffed grouse. In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre. Yet subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead. An enormous amount of some kind of motive power has been lost." I would argue that by removing the wolf, or reducing him to a remnant, we have removed or crippled that great "motive power," "we toppled the spire off an edifice a building since the morning stars first sang together." The wolf, the deer and the raven have been together since we were throwing spears. They are the front line of wildness, yet untamed by man and industry.

Barry W. Babcock, author of "Teachers in the Forest" and "Bonga". Barry at bookstore in Minneapolis giving a talk on his book, "Teachers in the Forest."


Debunking “Hunters for Hunters” group

January 30, 2024 - Maureen Hackett, MD, DFAPA

A group named “Hunters for Hunters” emerged in Minnesota hosting several “Wolf Predation Meetings” across the state under the banner of killing wolves in the name of deer conservation. They are an anti-wolf group. The group rallies supporters with the question, “How do we control the predator problem that's destroying our deer population? Let's talk about it!” The group claims wolves are to blame for a low deer harvest this fall. The problem? The data and science don’t support their position. Over this last ten years, 2017 saw the highest deer harvest with 197,778 deer harvested; this same year, was the highest wolf numbers have been in the past ten years (2,856). And while the pendulum of the deer harvest has swung nearly 60,000 deer in the last 10 years, the wolf population has remained relatively flat if not declining by comparison. In fact, the worst deer harvest in this time was in 2014, a year where wolf hunting was legal and saw a significant number of wolf deaths at the hands of humans. But blame the wolves, right?

One of the most vocal people in Hunters for Hunters is board member, speaker, and self-described Whitetail Deer Expert Steve Porter. Porter is a deer farmer from Lake Bronson, MN. He and other deer farming interests are in a lawsuit against the state of Minnesota for rules regarding deer farms and limiting the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). If you listen to Steve Porter, whether in a legislative committee hearing about deer farming or about deer hunting and wolves, you will hear someone who exaggerates and even makes up facts and takes on a victim role with ease.  He claimed in a committee hearing in the MN state Capitol, that he would be out of business with laws enacted to protect wild deer from CWD that spreads from some deer farms. The laws passed, he is still in business. Porter falsely claims that a robust wolf population is destroying the legacy of deer hunting in MN.

Most deer hunters and wildlife observers know that while deer harvests may have been low in some areas, the harsh winters are likely to blame— not wolves. This is supported by biologists and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). There are places with wolves that had good deer harvests, and we know that places without wolves had low deer numbers. Did we forget about the droughts and wildfires too? Deer need plant foods like acorns and hazelnuts. With the droughts, fires and even poor air quality, environmental insults to our basic plant environments may also harm deer and many animals.

Hunters for Hunters are attracting people who want to kill wolves, for just about any reason. They found a well-timed opportunity to go after deer hunters’ angst over their lack-luster hunting this fall knowing the numbers were looking down, especially in NE Minnesota.  Meanwhile, many crop farmers are making claims for deer damage to their crops— what do they think about deer numbers? Wildlife observers look at the plants and trees and their production of wildlife food, such as acorns and hazelnuts along with other habitat issues to see what may be happening with wild animals. With this year’s mild winter (so far) and with the large acorn masts last fall, we may have a banner deer season next year. Then what will they say to turn public opinion against the wolf?

The group, Hunters for Hunters, is very clear in its deadly mission. While touting themselves as a “hunters’ rights group”, Hunters for Hunters’ main goal is to get the federal protections of the Endangered Species Act removed for all wolves. The group is open about their ties to Kansas-based group Hunter Nation— the same group that successfully sued the state of Wisconsin to hold a wolf hunting and trapping season in February, 2021. The results were disastrous with over 216 wolves slaughtered in just 60 hours. This was during a one-year time frame when wolves were not federally protected following the Trump administration delisting all wolves in Oct. 2020.

Hunters for Hunters has close ties to Safari Club International (SCI), an expansive trophy hunting organization with high dollar hunters known for buying opportunities to kill rare and endangered animals. Think Cecil the lion’s killer who in the end shot him up close with an arrow after tracking the wounded lion for 10-12 hours. Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association were lead plaintiffs for delisting wolves in 2011 and fought the decision to relist them in court. Now Hunters for Hunters is pushing for a federal law to remove protections for all wolves and it will not have a judicial review if passed. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) & Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) and authored by Lauren Boebert (R-CO), is misleadingly named the “Trust the Science Act.” The problem? Science does not support delisting.

After a brief period of no federal protections, Minnesota wolves are back on the federal Endangered Species List due to states not providing enough protections. Wolves are still recovering from nearly going extinct. Hunters for Hunters claims that wolf populations in Minnesota are “higher than ever,” but today’s MN DNR estimated wolf population is even lower than before the 2012-2015 wolf hunting and trapping seasons. Wolves in Minnesota are listed as “threatened” and wolves are killed for livestock producers for wolf-livestock conflicts. We know, through scientific studies, that legal wolf killing results in more illegal and secret wolf killing. In fact, these wolf killers hide in plain sight posting on social media #SSS or “Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-Up.” The current estimate of wolf numbers in Minnesota is fewer than twenty years ago.

Even the MN DNR’s own data on 16 years of collared wolves, shows a more than doubling of annual wolf mortality after the first wolf season in 2012. The worst part is that annual mortality went from 20% to 43% and human caused deaths more than tripled from 10% to 35%. These high death rates continued for more than 5 years after the hunts ended through the end of the data in 2019. This data means that a wolf has a one in two chance of dying over the course of one year. Wolf packs need to mature over years and learn how to support themselves to maintain a territory. Much of the talk of wolves being seen in places unlike before may simply be due to such a severe disruption to their packs. Our MN DNR cannot control illegal wolf killing but the data shows it is happening.  

Hunters for Hunters says, “Wolves should be balanced like any other species, requiring management in order to preserve and grow the abundance of the wolf’s prey species; deer and moose, for the betterment of the hunting community.” However, wolves are NOT prey species! Unlike deer and other species hunted in Minnesota, wolves live in social packs and depend on each other for survival. The social structure of the pack determines their survival and reproduction. All members of the pack are essential to raise their pack’s maximum of one litter per year. Now, the average pack size in Minnesota is 3.6 wolves which is dramatically down from 1998 when the packs were averaging 5.4 wolves.  Killing a wolf endangers other wolves by disrupting their pack and disrupted packs are more likely to target easy prey such as livestock.

Hunters for Hunters says, “Currently, the state of Minnesota is not engaging in any form of management, endangering our hunting traditions, and that the state is using the Endangered Species Act to not engage the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and other states in the effort to remove wolves from the Endangered Species Act in the Great Lakes region.” Once again, this is false. Not only is wildlife services permitted to kill wolves that are creating conflicts with pets and livestock, but the 2023-2032 MN DNR wolf plan contains wolf hunting and trapping seasons. As apex carnivores, wolves face many threats to their existence that can cause a boom and bust in numbers. One disease outbreak can wipe out 90% of the population. Wolves face threats from other carnivores such as mountain lions and bears and they frequently starve to death. The survival of wolves depends on their ability to hold a territory. The best way to keep wolves stable and reduce interference with livestock is to leave them alone and use nonlethal prevention methods, not a wolf hunting and trapping season.

Remember, wolves in Minnesota are the only population that did not go extinct in the contiguous United States. Recent genetic studies show that our population is genetically diverse and thus necessary for the recovery of the species. Wolves are supposed to continue to recover and move out into suitable habitat.

The mission of Howling For Wolves and our top legislative priority, is to “remove wolf hunting and trapping from state law to protect wild wolves for future generations.” Existing Minnesota law authorizes the MN DNR to hold a recreational hunting and trapping season on wolves.

Let’s be clear: illegal wolf killing already happens, even with federal protections.  A hunt will endanger them and encourage more killing. Wolf killing cannot be controlled. Killing one wolf can decimate the entire pack. This is known as “additive mortality.” We need a paradigm shift in how we allow wolves to live and control their own population and territories. We know they do not tolerate habitat loss, and of course as apex carnivores, wolves often die early deaths and their pups starve without added threats from humans.

Howling For Wolves will continue to be a strong voice for the wolf at the Minnesota Capitol. Thank you for your continued advocacy – and stay tuned for more opportunities to speak for the wolf particularly during this upcoming state legislative session February-May, 2024. You can take an action now from this website and you can attend Wolf Day 2024!

Maureen Hackett, MD, DFAPA
President and Founder, Howling For Wolves



January 3, 2023 - By Michael W. Fox, BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS

By Michael W. Fox, BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS

Wolves embody the same spark that ignites and sustains the human spirit, and the One Health of Earth.
I speak and write about wolves as a veterinarian, scientist and bioethicist who has raised wolf
cubs and studied their behavior, development and communication. Without wolves in my life, I
would not likely have earned the doctor of science degree in animal behaviour/ethology from
London University, England. I have authored and edited several academic books about wolves
and other wild canids, and the award-winning book of fiction for children, The Wolf.
One of the founding fathers of the science of animal behavior/ethology, Nobel prize laureate
Konrad Lorenz, MD, proclaimed “Before you can really study an animal you must first love it.”
Native American Indian Chief Dan George put it this way: “If you talk to the animals they will
talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them,
and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears one destroys.”
Those who know wolves would respect rather than seek to destroy them. I can attest to their high
degree of intelligence, insight, playful humor and empathy as detailed in my popular book The
Soul of the Wolf. Wolves are exemplary parents, instilling obedience in their cubs so essential for
their survival as well as self-control, gentleness and pack-cooperation/mutual aid. They will
bring food to a pack-mate who is injured, most often while hunting. Conflicts between packs are
rare but when food is scarce there can be injuries, deaths and dispersal.
The vital role of wolves in contributing to the health of deer and other wildlife and their
ecosystems, and to public health have been well documented. The ecological, environmental and
public health services that wolves provide help rectify the ecological, environmental and public
health costs of the livestock industry, too long denied. (
When subjected to human encroachment, shooting, trapping, snaring, denning and poisoning. the
integrated nuclear-family and stabilizing pack and clan associations of wolves are disrupted,
resulting in suffering, starvation and social conflicts. From a humane as well as from the
scientific and bioethical perspectives of One Health, it is enlightened self-interest to protect
wolves and engage in planetary “CPR” (-conservation, preservation and restoration). Supporting
cattle ranchers by exterminating wolves and other predators and subsidizing the beef industry
simply fuels global warming, climate change and loss of biodiversity. It also perpetuates the
unquestioned cultural norm and consumer health risks of meat-based diets.
The fundamental lesson from the ecology of wolf and other large predators is that they naturally
control their numbers (Arian D. Wallach et al. Oikos Feb. 16 th
2015. See also
limit-their-own-numbers-2/). There are too many of us who kill billions of animals annually from
land and sea to consume as a dietary staple to not harm the environment. The most significant
correctives are to transition to plant-based diets and the implementation of new food

biotechnologies such as animal cell bioreactors producing safe and nutritious, cruelty-free
analogs of meat and other animal products. This would eliminate the justification of predator
control/killing; cruel farm animal factories and feedlots; stressful transportation and mass
slaughter of terrified animals; put an end to hunting and fishing and to many food-borne
illnesses; and reduce climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The giving and taking of lives, predators and prey, as the dynamics of forest, deer and wolf
demonstrate, evidence how the ecological whole of biodiversity is maintained and sustained.
Add the human takings of timber, mining, agriculture, hunting deer, incursion of livestock and
land developers, and taking of wolves as trophies and for their fur is a crime against Nature and
to the spirit and sensibilities of our own humanity.
Environmental/ecological eugenics is a relatively new and imprecise science involving the
selective extermination of invasive species and re-introduction, like wolves into Yellowstone
National Park and beavers into their original wetland habitats where they were trapped to
extinction, with documented benefits in terms of enhanced natural biodiversity. Such eugenics of
wildlife management and habitat restoration and conservation contrasts the harmful
consequences of agribusiness food-industry eugenics with the selective killing of insects, for
example, with insecticides that now threaten bees and other vital crop pollinators and have
decimated naturally pest- controlling insectivorous amphibian, reptile, avian and bat populations:
And the killing of predators to protect livestock that infect other wildlife with diseases, the
absence of predators accelerating the loss of biodiversity and incursion of invasive species. The
only justification to ever cull or relocate a wolf pack would be if they were to put endangered
species at risk, which has never occurred. We humans put the most species at risk.
It is, perhaps, poetic irony, if not Nature’s retribution, that we are suffering the catastrophic and
escalating consequences of climate change and of potentially pandemic diseases transmitted
from animals to humans that natural biodiversity once helped contain, as the science and
bioethics of One Health affirms. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution incorporating the
essence of a Universal Bill of Rights for Animals and Nature codified in 2011 in my book
Animals and Nature First could establish the U.S. as the leader for the formation of a United
Environmental Nations to collaboratively achieve the One Health imperatives of planetary CPR-
(conservation, protection and restoration). We are surely not powerless to stop the wanton
destruction, the needless killing and endless suffering. In a restored democracy there would be
justice for all. From the Christian perspective of the Rev. James Parks Morton, “Ecology is the
science of the body of Christ through which we of the Earth community learn our sacred
In respecting and protecting the wolf we do no less for our humanity. Chief Black Elk, an Oglala
Lakota Sioux holy man, warrior, and survivor of Wounded Knee, proclaimed: “Nothing will be
well unless we learn to live in harmony with the Power of the World as it lives and moves and
does its work.” This Power of the World, from Nature’s life-sustaining biodiversity, is in every
creature and breath we take. In harming this Power of the World, we fall from grace toward
extinction as a rational, responsible and compassionate species. What kinds of human
phenotypes/subspecies emerge from the Anthropocene apocalypse of what scientists are now
calling Earth’s sixth mass extinction, remains to be seen.

We are the mothers and fathers of tomorrow, and how well we care for and protect wolves and
all of our relations in Nature’s biodiversity today, will be our legacy. The Call of the Wild-the
spirit of creative freedom and genius loci- will be no more if we do not effectively address the
Nature Deficit Disorder in children and the escalating Empathy Deficit Disorder in most
societies today. All school districts should have access to Natural History and Wildlife Education
and Rehabilitation centers and on-line educational materials incorporating environmental
education. The animal circus and road-side zoo “animal experience” is detrimental to a child’s
cognitive and emotional development. We must recover the kind of sensibility expressed by
Australian aboriginal elder Bill Neidjie: “If you feel sore…headache, sore body, that mean
somebody killing tree or grass. You feel because your body in that tree or earth. Nobody can tell
you, you got to feel it yourself.”
None of us could function well with half a lung; broken bones and blood poisoning; impaired
nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Neither can planet Earth. These and other medical
conditions are evident in analogous form in the environmental dysbiosis we have caused: felling
forests, lungs of the Earth; breaking mountains apart and poisoning streams and waterways;
polluting our air, food and water; decimating and disrupting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
and the lives therein, plant, animal and microbial. These ecosystems are now disintegrating on
the path toward extinction. Only in the advancement of One Health is there reason for hope,
forever nascent in the spirituality of reverence for life and embedded in the principles of justice
and frugality.
Wolves revered by indigenous peoples East and West. (
mythology): In the Shinto religion of Japan the wolf is a guardian when it is properly attended to
and cared for. Farmers used to worship wolves at shrines and left food offerings near
their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer. Hindus traditionally
considered that the hunting of wolves was a taboo since they feared that it may cause a bad
harvest. According to Minnesota Ojibwe elder Jim Merhar “When the world started, the wolf
was put here to help people. You can think of it almost like dogs today. The wolf is a partner to
man.” ( In 2010, the
Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, was the first to adopt a wolf management plan. They
designated the band's 843,000 acres of land as a wolf sanctuary in an effort to help save wolves.
To live and let live is a democratic ecological principle; a consummation devoutly to be wished
in accord with the Golden Rule. Saving the wolf today will help save our humanity tomorrow.

Dr. Fox lives in Golden Valley Minnesota. Email Website
Addendum: Minnesota’s updated wolf plan “strengthens wolf conservation.”
The DNR has finalized an updated wolf management plan that incorporates the diverse views of
Minnesotans and will guide the state’s approach to wolf conservation for the next 10 years. The
plan includes summary information about Minnesota’s wolf population and the history of wolves
in the state. It details the diverse and changing public attitudes about wolves, the legal status of
wolves, tribal perspectives on wolves, and ways to support a healthy and resilient wolf

population while minimizing conflicts between humans and wolves. The plan also includes a
framework for how the state will approach decisions about wolf hunting or trapping if the wolf is
delisted federally.
A full version of the updated plan and information about the planning process is on the  DNR
wolf plan page.
For an excellent recording of wolf howls, visit

New Year's Message for 2023

December 14, 2022 - Dr. Michael W. Fox

By Dr. Michael W. Fox

NOTE: From Dr. Fox's Animal Doctor syndicated newspaper column

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2023 after the challenges of this past year beyond political discord, corruption, violence and war. The pathologies of dystopia, such as addiction, suicidal and homicidal nihilism and child and animal abuse are societal challenges affecting all who care.

The Climate, COVID-19 pandemic and Biodiversity Extinction crises have put us all on notice: Evolve or suffer and perish. An estimated 820 million people are seriously malnourished. The rising tide of disenfranchised, political, economic and adverse-environment afflicted refugees is a humanitarian crisis no civilized society can ignore or wall or war against. We have the promise of emerging technologies and other initiatives to produce, sustainably and safely, fossil-fuel-energy alternatives; affordable food and health care for all. These hopes will founder if denial, a business-as-usual attitude, and lack of effective family planning prevail. I find hope in investment initiatives sharing the vision of people like David Friedberg, (whom I saw on the BBC TV interviewed by Stephen Sackur) who is an animal rights advocate and CEO of The Production Board ( And in the nascent One Health movement which I have long advocated. (For details visit

Food technologies ancient and new could soon end the exploitation and killing of animals for food and new technologies replace fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions and global warming. Public health, animal health, a healthy environment and economy are all connected and dependent upon our ability to implement planetary CPR: Conservation, protection and restoration of Nature’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, extending the rule of law in unequivocal support of such initiatives internationally. The 15 the United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP15 held this past December in Montreal may help prevent what many scientists are calling the Earth’s sixth mass extinction---for the common good and the good of the Commons. So, I see glimmers of hope for this coming New Year and for years to come as we all commit to reducing our collective and personal carbon footprints, living simply so that others may simply live. Also, putting compassion into action helping organizations dedicated to assisting the homeless, feeding the poor, rescuing animals in our communities, and saving and rehabilitating wildlife and their habitats. Empathy and respect can have no boundaries and should embrace all persons, races, and species.

Wildlife Research Needs Veterinary Supervision and Ethical Boundaries

July 11, 2022 - Michael W. Fox, DVM and Maureen Hackett, MD


There are several documented, and many word-of mouth accounts of chemically immobilized and otherwise restrained endangered species like the Asian elephant and African wild dog being severely injured, killed or dying soon after capture and/or release. In some instances there was an association with the animals being injected with un-tested and un-approved modified live virus vaccines. In other instances the injured or killed animal was a pregnant or nursing mother.

 Experienced veterinary supervision is called for especially when research biologists are loose in the field using drugs and vaccines on their animal subjects and applying various methods of capture and restraint which may cause serious injury, capture myopathy and even death. (Dr. Hackett's note: Stress Cardiomyopathy is due to the emotional stress of the capture and causes cardiac muscle to be unable to contract properly and pump blood because it becomes like an octopus' motion under the massive surge in stress hormones. The federal trapper whom I discussed this with did not believe me until I informed him this is a common clinical event seen in captive animals and people too--he had no clue. Thus the need for veterinarian supervision).

Wildlife continue to be harassed, stressed, and subjected to these in-field risks so that tissue and blood samples can be taken (though DNA evidence can be obtained from feces and rubbing/marking areas), radio collars and even cameras fitted,  and microchips implanted. The generation of more scientific data from such field research may help advance careers and engender more funding, and give some substance to wildlife management schemes. But when the animals in question are put at risk, and there are no in-place regulations and effective law enforcement to protect and restore their existing habitats, and to extend same in order to help minimize accelerating loss of genetic biodiversity, then these wildlife researchers should cease and desist.

 Such activities alone have nothing to do with wildlife conservation and at best give the false impression that something is being done, the foreign presence alone being a deterrent to poaching etc etc. Yet in reality from a bioethical perspective, the risks to the animals far exceed the immediate and foreseeable benefits. So I appeal to all appropriate institutions, governmental and non-governmental, for-profit and not-for profit, to encourage alternative, non-invasive wildlife research, and to cease funding and permitting any form of wildlife capture except for urgent veterinary and conservation-translocation reasons.

---Dr. Michael W. Fox

Ten Years After

April 22, 2022 - Maureen Hackett

What a difference ten years has made at the Minnesota State Capitol for the wolf.

Yesterday, the Minnesota state senate made a decisive vote against a mandatory wolf hunt. Most would agree that to oppose a mandatory wolf hunt should be a no brainer. But politics of the wolf is so bad, that getting this decisive vote, with both parties on board against a mandatory wolf hunt is a leap forward for the wolf and for the legislature in Minnesota. The vote was 37 nays to 28 yeas. The current senate is Republican majority, but nearly equally divided. Compared to many other votes taken yesterday, this vote was decisive and not close, with Republicans also saying no to a Mandatory Wolf hunt.

Howling For Wolves started 10 years ago this spring.  We let the public know about the wolf hunting bill before it passed into law through the Environment bill. We made sure people knew about the wolf hunt during the lead up to it all summer 2012, as we tried to stop it. Then we protested the horrific wolf hunts. We were the advocates as the press told a slanted story about the wolf hunts. It is tragic, but obviously vital that the courts finally stopped the slaughter. There had been a democratic process accomplished long before in 1998. THis was to have a 5 year moratorium before aa wolf hunt was considered and was to have "full" public comment and scientific research. This was ignored and overturned in the rush to have a wolf hunt. THe Minnesota DNR did not even accomplish a baseline survey of the wolves of Minnesota after 35 years of protections before a public wolf slaughter. And all of the MN media just ate it up with no questions about what should have been and what could happen to our beloved wild wolves.

So much has happened since then. With all of the ups and downs for wolves and their packs, Wolf supporters can smile and feel proud about yesterday’s vote in the Minnesota State Senate. This was a glimmer of hope that a political body can help protect the wolf. This was a glimmer of hope that the legislature is hearing their constituents and voting accordingly. It demonstrated that it actually has an effect when we take actions and reach out to our representatives and senators whether it be in person or electronically. It takes an accumulation of actions to be heard and for all the actions taken over the years, it appears they hear us and are listening. It all started 10 years ago with so many in person actions and lots and lots of communications with our legislators, in person rallies and attempts to inform the public at major events.

Howling For Wolves is heard at the state capitol. Stay proud and stay engaged. They hear us.

(Watch the 40-minute debate on the Senate Environment Finance bill here.  It should start at the right time, 00:30:54. The vote concludes at 01:06:57.






COVID-19 Insights and Hindsight

April 5, 2022 - By Dr. Michael W. Fox

The current coronavirus pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is responsible for over 6 million deaths world-wide and millions of others with chronic health consequences.

Some virologists contend that this virus was genetically engineered in one or more laboratories to have “gain in function”--becoming more contagious---a not uncommon procedure in the steps involving vaccine development and animal testing.

Conspiracy theories have been spun around the U.S. Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s involvement in this kind of vaccine development. It is a very safe investment since people suffering from adverse reactions cannot sue the manufacturers but must prove their case, often difficult, directly to the Government to seek compensation.

My main concern is that these and other agencies have not taken any significant steps to prevent future pandemics from zoonotic ( animal-to-human) diseases by seeking international prohibitions on wildlife trade, live “wet” markets in China and other countries as well as the bush meat markets in Africa and a rapid phasing out of CAFOs-confined animal feed operations ( so-called factory farms) especially of pigs and poultry: also, COVID-19-susceptible fur farms, mink in particular, and deer and “trophy” game farms operations, especially of White-tail deer who are very susceptible to this virus transmitted from humans. New variants will evolve along with other zoonotic diseases which will not be prevented by evermore vaccines, none of which offer zero risk.

We must, as a population soon to crest at 8 billion and which many ecologists and others see as a global infestation, change our eating and breeding habits beginning with better family planning and the rapid adoption of nutritious, plant based diets around the world to reduce our depredation and dependence on animals wild and domesticated as a source of food.The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is now also urging adoption of plant-based diets as a significant step to help reduce climate change.

Remembering Sandy Skinaway

September 19, 2021 - Maureen Hackett

On Friday, September 17, I attended the Celebration of Life for Sandra Marie Skinaway, my friend and teacher. Sandy was a wolf advocate long before I started Howling For Wolves. She was the Chairwoman of the Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi of Ojibwe and she spent her energy and time working for her tribe to gain recognition from the federal government. Sandy taught me about Ma’iingan; Brother Wolf, and the sacred cultural role of the wolf for the Anishinaabe people. I learned so much from Sandy and wish I had learned even more. I am honored that Sandy trusted me to share her culture with me.

Sandy spoke on local television, wrote editorials, and testified at the state capital in MN as we worked to pass wolf protection laws. She was an enthusiastic activist organizing regular rallies and marches against wolf hunting. She taught lawmakers the cultural significance of the wolf. Sandy travelled to Washington, DC to assist environmental groups by representing the indigenous view as they advocated to protect the wolf with Senators and Representatives. She did this even when her health nearly prevented her from doing so.

Sandy was the most peaceful and humble person I have ever known. She never complained and she did not speak negatively about others. I learned the true meaning of humility from Sandy. Ma’iingan is described as symbolizing humility and I think that Sandy emulated the wolf in this part of her character. She had a soft-spoken, selfless manner. She showed me to never give up in our fight to protect the wolf. So many people and so much important work will miss Sandy Skinaway.

Sandy may your spirit be free as you journey to the stars. I will howl for you at this Autumn equinox’s full moon on Sept 21, 2021.




Wolf All Down! Finding the Golden Mean in Conservation and Consumption

November 24, 2020 - Dr. Michael W. Fox

Efforts to protect the wolf in North America have now been thwarted yet again by the U.S. Department of the Interior decision to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Yet there is only a fraction, possibly only less than 10% left of the original population, that once ranged across much of the continent because of human encroachment, trapping, poisoning, snaring, and shooting. Ranchers, recreational “sports” hunters and outfitters, and fur trappers are happy now.

These special interest groups are not representative of the democratic majority that has voted in favor of animal and environmental protective legislation, yet this immoral minority wins once again. I say immoral advisedly, sine there are many ranchers and hunters who respect and chose to protect the wolf, as well as the cougar and other predators. Some who protect their livestock with non-lethal methods of predator deterrence see it as the price they must pay for encroaching on wolf domain when some stock are taken by this increasingly displaced, persecuted, and starving indigenous species.

The immorality of conspicuous consumption and destruction is evident in the recent federal plan to strip protection from Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and open up all 16.7 million acres to logging and other forms of “development” in one of the world’s largest and last temperate rainforests. The legacy of America’s imperialistic invasion, genocide and violation of the rights of indigenous peoples and species lives on as we continue to wolf all down that contributes to the GNP: the gross national product. Efforts to protect the environment and threatened animal and plant species are seen as “Taking away our freedom and rights,” to quote some politicians.

No less is happening in other countries striving to live high off the hog and wolf all down as grasslands, wetlands, and forests are turned over to commodity crop monocultures and livestock and poultry-feed production, displacing and disenfranchising small family farm cooperatives and communities in the process and accelerating climate change and loss of biodiversity. When I was a boy, chicken and steaks were too expensive for my family to consume on a regular basis but are now affordable for most who regard poultry, pork, beef and dairy products as dietary staples rather than luxuries, unaware of the hidden costs, especially animal suffering in factory farms and feedlots, and the environmental and public health consequences.

The chemicals and animal drugs used in this global agribusiness industry are making us sick and harming the environment and what is left of our wildlife. Consumers are told to trust agri-science, the food they eat and the drugs they take, while science-deniers of the Climate and Extinction Crises strive to maintain business as usual especially for the fossil fuel and allied industries. In our unbridled, conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels we are indeed burning the Earth’s past as well as future.

As one who has raised and studied wolves as an ethological scientist, winning their trust and devotion and crossing the boundary of scientific objectivity to have communion with one who sang in harmony with my shakuhachi flute, I am crying now for our loss of humanity and sense of kinship with all life. This, I believe, as a veterinarian, is a sensibility without which we will never be well. No one who knows wolves, as I shared in my book The Soul of the Wolf, would ever seek to kill one as a trophy or wear their fur as some fashionable adornment.

I challenge the bioethics of wolf and all wildlife management “science” that calibrates sustainable “harvesting” quotas and acceptable “recovery” counts. (For more discussion see my review article Wildlife Management and Ecological Dysbiosis posted on From a bioethical perspective such management is purely anthropocentric. Like sustainable farming, wildlife management must be eco-centric; Natural systems work best when we step outside, and observe rather than intervene, control, exploit and kill, and see how much needs to be healed, healthful biodiversity restored, like encouraging wolf pack expansion in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and other cervids as well as Lyme and other tick borne diseases to humans and other animals..

The efforts of conservation and wildlife and biodiversity protection need support. Restraining order law suits and appeals are costly and take talent. Such disingenuous journalism is archaic and atavistic, if not anarchistic. The eco-tourist value of healthy wolf populations is coupled with the health of ecosystems to which wolves and other predators contribute. Predator “services” have been long documented as contributing to deer and other herbivore herd health and protection of forest habitat from over-grazing/browsing so fewer sapling trees are consumed, enabling forest regeneration, now additionally compromised by climate change.

Beyond anthropocentric religious belief, there is no science-based evidence that Nature was created for man’s exclusive use, becoming dysfunctional when so abused; or that other animals are our inferiors and are natural resources for our own use, best harvested “sustainably” ( called wise stewardship) or to be exterminated as we chose. Indigenous peoples like the Ojibwe have a very different hunting ethic and regard for wolves, and decry this de-listing. For them, and others who share their worldview, the wolf is a totemic species, a sacred presence in the life-community worthy of equal and fair consideration.


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