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E-M:/ Wolf hunting in Minnesota

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org


As most who follow endangered species issues in Michigan know, the wolf
population recovery in Michigan has come about in large part because the
population of Minnesota wolves had been sustained even when every other
population in the lower 48 states had vanished.  Some wolves have come from
Ontario, but the base of the population is from Minnesota.  Michigan folks
should be aware of this debate because it is hard to believe it will not
influence our wolf recovery and protection efforts here, one way or another.

There is going to be a proposal from the USF&WS to delist the gray wolf in the
upper Great Lakes region very soon, and associated with this is that the
states of MI, WI and MN have  to develop their own management plans.  Both MI
and WI have plans in place, adopted through administrative processes.  In MN
a roundtable group of almost all the interests developed a proposed plan, but
it requires legislative approval. 

The MN legislature has been debating the issue of wolf hunting throughout much
of their current session, with the legislative proposals differing
substantially from the roundtable agreement.  This week, the MN House passed a
bill that calls for the MN DNR commissioner to establish a hunting and
trapping season for wolf when the population exceeds 1,600, with a goal of
dropping the population to between 1,251 and 1,400 wolves.  The bill
stipulates that the population be reduced to a "level that minimizes conflict
between humans and gray wolves and the depredation of livestock and domestic

The issue has gotten into the personal -- a state rep discussed the loss of
his dogs Spunky and Picasso to wolves -- "Spunky had an unfortunate accident
before the wolf, but Picasso was very much alive." The same rep said "You're
not allowing me to protect my pet or my wife from the wolves hanging around."
(As you can see, legislative debate in other states is almost as scintillating
as here!).

Governor Jesse Ventura has been firm in his support of the roundtable
agreement to date, and there is reason to believe he would veto any
legislation that strays from that agreement.  Since the outcome of this debate
will likely influence Michigan's wolf populations, it would seem like a good
idea for Michigan wildlife experts and environmental activists to encourage
the adoption of the plan adopted through the interactions of knowledgable
interest groups and experts, instead of what sounds increasingly like a
circus in the legislative arena.  In addition, when the USF&WS comes forward
with its expected plans for delisting the gray wolf, we in Michigan should
make sure that these plans are ONLY adopted if what Minnesota does is not
going to jeopardize our wolf populations.

Anne Woiwode

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