Letter: The state of wolves not good

April 26, 2015
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INFORUM published an editorial letter by HFW President Dr. Maureen Hackett. The letter content is provided here, to see the original published editorial, click on the link above.

The state of the state, according to Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent address, is “good.” The state of the Minnesota wolf, however, is “threatened.”

Due to the recent federal court ruling placing Minnesota’s gray wolves on the endangered species list as “threatened,” and due to the use of outdated methods and risky state management, wolves in Minnesota – and our nation – are truly at a crossroads.

Minnesota is fortunate to be the home of the largest and only original wolf population remaining in the lower 48 states. Wolves are critical for healthy grasslands, forests, and successful vegetation growth after wildfires. For many Minnesota Native American tribes the wolf holds a sacred cultural role.

Wolves are not like deer. Wolves live in packs and depend on each other to survive. Scientific studies show that the human killing of wolves produces unpredictable effects including pack instability and an increased number of wolf-livestock conflicts. Funding of nonlethal prevention methods for farmers with wolf livestock conflicts could help our state; the only state with its original wolf population that never went extinct, and help our farmers let wolves live.

When the gray wolf was first removed (delisted) from the endangered species list in 2012, individual states took control of wolf management. These states, including Minnesota, immediately implemented reckless recreational wolf hunting and trapping seasons.

Howling for Wolves thinks science, not politics, should guide our wolf plans and policies. We signed and support the petition presented to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that calls for the permanent reclassification of gray wolves as a threatened species. With federal protection of wolves, we can develop and implement smart, science-based plans that keep wolf packs stable and prevent most wolf conflicts with livestock and pets.

The “threatened” classification allows for continued federal funding and oversight of all wolf management and recovery efforts, and further allows for the development of a national recovery plan for the species. It also provides the USFWS regulatory flexibility to permit state and local wildlife managers to address specific wolf conflicts. Finally, it keeps the issue out of the court system and provides a process by which wolves and their respective states’ plans are monitored.

Congressional action is not necessary; it would circumvent the court process, it would ignore the best available science, and it would remove federal oversight.

So while the state of Minnesota is “good,” our elected officials have the opportunity to make it even better. Maintaining wolves’ listing as “threatened” would be a positive step for the future of wolves and Minnesota.

Hackett is president and founder of Howling for Wolves, a Minnesota-based wolf advocacy organization.