Living Wolves are Valuable, Let's Keep them and Promote Them

The question is what is the real purpose of a wolf hunt?  When you distill it, it comes down to entertainment for hunters and pelts for trappers.  The wolf is a social and complex animal with so much more to give us by living and thriving ecologically than with its death and flesh.  Just think about what we have already learned about our dogs from studying wolves.  Don't we owe dogs' evolutionary relative the right to exist?  Exist as more than a token species on the brink of surviving? Mankind has truly benefited from the domestication of the wolf into our dogs. We benefit emotionally physically and   occupationally. Hunters also benefit from the wolf's existence through their hunting dogs.  Look at what we use dogs for: seeing eye dogs, disability assistants, bomb sniffers, security dogs, livestock helpers and the list goes on. Think about what more we can get from keeping wolves intact and ecologically active.  MN beaver trappers, have you noticed your beaver takes over the years increase while we left our wolves intact?

We in MN are the only lower 48 state to actually have its original wolf population. We can develop an international image based on wilderness with wolves.  We need to tell people this and show them our wilderness and teach them about our wolves.  But now what do we tell them? That we saved them to shoot and trap them? We know that wolves control their own numbers and as predators they only need to be controlled around livestock or human conflict. Of course we will always have livestock and wolf issues. We can manage this and still promote our wolves. The hunt is not to control their numbers and there is no upper limit of wolves. This was stated by Dr. David Mech in testimony to the legislature. 

While The DNR and experts count wolf bodies, they could be promoting the real value of wolves: ecotourism.  The experts could study wolves and their  effect on landscapes and wildlife, while they educate young people and get them more interested in ecology and natural resources.

The hunting and trappping and then counting wolf bodies model is an outmoded charade. Do we really want to have just enough wolves to survive as a species but not enough to play their rightful and needed ecological role? We could do so much more. No one talks about the cost of the hunt.  For now the counts are done with federal dollars due to the endangered species act delisting rules.  No one talks about the money the government and philanthropists spent to bring back wolves from the brink of extinction.  The wolf could truly pay its own way if it had the right promotional agent. In 2006,  wolf ecotourism in Yellowstone had an estimated value of $35 million per year. MN could benefit economically by keeping our wolves intact.

What can you do right now? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, call your radio station, and fill out the DNR survey (1st question and comment). Please let the DNR know what you think by June 20, 2012.