Our state is in the middle of its first wolf-hunting season. A later hunting and trapping season, with 2,400 licenses available, opens Nov. 24 and continues through Jan. 31.
It’s not because the wolf population is exploding and we need to “control” the wolves. No, the wolf population has remained stable, unchanged, for more than 10 years, even while protected.
It’s not for livestock depredation. State experts agree that wolf depredation of livestock doesn’t impact agriculture in a meaningful way, with 88 verified complaints in 2011. Moreover, a public hunt will do nothing to address depredation problems, which will continue to be handled as before with trappers dispatched to kill problem wolves and nonlethal techniques employed when possible.
The hunt is not happening because wolves are killing all the deer and we need to “manage” the wolves so there will continue to be a thriving deer population. The predator and prey relationship in nature has worked quite effectively over thousands of years, with natural fluctuations of abundance and scarcity.
On average, Minnesota deer hunters kill about 200,000 deer each year, with minor fluctuations from year to year. A harsh winter has more impact on deer populations than wolves do. Now, however the Deer Hunters Association demands that the Department of Natural Resources permit their members to either harvest a deer and “harvest” or shoot a wolf at the same time. Many wolves can be injured but not included in the dead count. Then wolves will be trapped, to get to the arbitrary quota of 400 wolves.
Wolves are considered to be a “keystone” species in a sustainable eco-tourism industry in Minnesota that is estimated at generating $400 million annually for our state economy.
Allowing wolves to be randomly killed for entertainment and sport will negatively impact this important economic input as eco-tourists will be turned off and will not be interested in traveling here to spend their money.
It’s a shame that the Minnesota DNR, state Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton are willing to behave so recklessly as to significantly risk this sustainable industry at a time when most Minnesotans are more economically vulnerable than ever.
Let’s be clear. This is a trophy hunt for people who want pelts and something new to shoot. The wolf will not be killed for meat but because it is the wolf. It is a trophy. I do not object to hunting; I object to hunting the wolf. The only reason for this hunt according to the wolf experts is that there are enough wolves to allow a hunt to “let off pent up pressure” to kill wolves.
The experts say that the hunt is for social purposes. That is, for the amusement of a small group of individuals who want to experience the thrill of killing one of Minnesota’s most magnificent and enigmatic creatures. I intend to hold my elected officials accountable for their votes on this morally corrupt hunt.
I ask readers to consider many points of interest in this matter. The random killing of wolves will not reduce livestock-wolf conflicts but may increase them.
Eighty percent of DNR survey respondents including hunters oppose a wolf hunt. With lost federal protections, wolves are already being killed more readily due to lightened laws and penalties.
A natural, healthy wolf population supports healthy deer. Finally, trapping is a haphazard, brutal practice that inflicts severe pain and prolonged mental distress — sometimes a wolf will chew their own leg off, just to escape it.
This hunt is bad for Minnesota’s wildlife, ecosystems, economics and soul. Wolves clearly do not have a voice in this matter, so it is important that someone represent another point of view.