Protecting the Gray Wolf

Grey Wolf 20

photo by Sakarri on Flickr

Tomorrow, the Minnesota House Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee will hold a hearing regarding HF 1856. This bill concerns the hunting and trapping of wolves in Minnesota, an issue that the Sierra Club North Star Chapter has been closely and carefully monitoring.

Now that the species has recently been delisted, the state of Minnesota must ensure that the stability of the wolf population does not fall victim to other interests. An initiation of a hunting season immediately following the wolf’s removal from threatened status raises serious concerns. Initially, a 5 year waiting period was called for, after delisting, before a hunting season would be opened. This waiting period was eliminated by legislation passed last year.

 It is thanks, in part, to Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s work to protect the wolf under the Endangered Species Act for the past three decades that the Great Lakes Wolf population, which includes Minnesota, has made steps toward recovery. This should be celebrated.

However, we believe that Minnesota’s native wildlife is a public trust and we have an obligation to conserve species for the benefit of all our citizens. Since all of our wildlife species are public resources, including the wolf, the State of Minnesota should not introduce a hunting season on the wolf without a full public notification, involvement and review process.

In addition, we wish to highlight the following specific areas of concern:

– We must enact such laws as will best preserve the wolf, a public trust, and secure its beneficial use in the future to the people of the state. We do not support an open season that overlaps with deer hunting.

– We believe there must be an adequate monitoring plan in place that includes not only “take” numbers but other impacts to wolves and wolf habitat that may cause a decline in population. At minimum, the DNR must have adequate resources to conduct sound scientific monitoring to ensure the continued viability of the wolf.

– We have long had concerns for certain types of trapping of wildlife species and urge extreme care when implementing trapping regulations for the wolf. Lethal trapping of non-targeted species and pets is, and continues to be, a problem in Minnesota.

The wolf, once imperiled, has made an amazing recovery. This marvelous creature is an icon of our state and beloved by Minnesotans. We should move into the future of wolf management through a careful and well-considered process. Such a process should include full transparency and involvement of the public. Without such a commitment, decades of work to recover the species could easily be lost.

Interested in weighing in on this or other issues affecting Minnesota’s environment during the 2012 session?  Click here to find out who your state representatives are.

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One response to “Protecting the Gray Wolf

  1. Of course, the result of the wolf hunting & trapping bills in the MN Legislature was the rapid authorization of open recreational hunting & trapping seasons beginning in November 2012.I happened to be at a 3/6/2012 meeting of the MN Senate Committee on Environment & Natural Resources when the new seasons were being discussed. It was obvious that the conclusions had already been reached: there would be open seasons on wolves, they would be held as soon as possible, and wildlife management would be limited to setting quotas and keeping tallies. There was a long line of representatives from sportsmen’s groups waiting for their turn at the microphone to thank all of those who had provided the opportunity for a sportsman to have the experience of taking a wolf. They like those words: "opportunity," "experience," "taking," along with "excitement," "accomplishment," and the like. A few wildlife conservationists had their turns at the microphone, as well, but what they had to say was so much less exciting; offered so much less opportunity, experience, and sense of accomplishment; and provided so few congratulatory slaps on the back for influential legislators and DNR officials that it paled in comparison. That’s what the public hearings would have been like, too, if there had been true public hearings.Yes, "Minnesota’s native wildlife is a public trust."Yes, there should be "an adequate monitoring plan in place that includes not only “take” numbers but other impacts to wolves and wolf habitat…"Yes, "Lethal trapping of non-targeted species and pets is, and continues to be, a problem…" Just one of the problems here is that careless trappers are still using blind methods of lethal trapping and snaring that are killing people’s dogs. The reason I mention that problem–among the many problems that the MN Legislature and MN DNR have not yet dealt with–is that I’m one of the dog owners who have felt it personally by losing my little companion Phillip in a carelessly-set (yet legal) body-gripping trap.Yes, "We should move into the future of wolf management through a careful and well-considered process."Another way to weigh-in on issues affecting Minnesota’s environment is to petition for change. For example, to petition for change in the lethal trapping of non-targeted species and pets, you can search for "Safe Public Lands," read the petition you find there, and consider adding your signature. There’s strength in numbers.

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