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.