Monday, April 23, 2012

Possible Minnesota Wolf Hunt Sparks Controversy

A gray wolf in Minnesota

The gray wolf has recently been delisted as an endangered species in the United States due to its population size that is well over 1,000 animals. This means that hunters are given the opportunity to hunt down these misunderstood carnivores for concerns ranging from livestock predation to competition for hunting other big game animals. However, the rule of delisting the wolf has also sparked outrage among several animal rights groups and one example was seen in the case of a proposed wolf hunt in the state of Minnesota. While most farming and hunting groups support the the proposed hunt slated slated to begin in November, a good deal of animal rights groups and other people say that the hunt will cause bigger problems. Among the protesters are a group called Howling for Wolves and some members of the native Ojibwe tribes of Minnesota.

In the late 1990s, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a meeting called the Wolf Management Roundtable which included participants from all sides of the issues. It was initially decided that when the gray wolf was delisted, there would be a five-year moratorium on hunting. Unfortunately, the legislature decided that wolves may be hunted this year, just months after being delisted. According to Robert Shimek, an Ojibwe tribal activist and member of the Red Lake tribe, the American Indian story states that a wolf is a brother and that both wolves and people are spiritually bound. He further added that when the wolf has not done well through history, neither have the Native Americans. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwher, on the other hand, argued that even with hunting and trapping, Minnesota will have a great population of wolves. He also added that the hunt would take 400 animals which is not much more than 200 problematic wolves that were being killed by federal authorities. In spite of Mr. Landwher's argument, Mr. Shimek still felt that the bill is more about sport-hunting. Although he is not against controlling problem wolves, Mr. Shimek stated that his main concern centers around wolves living in highly social family units called packs. He believed that taking out the alpha male and alpha female from a pack results in making wolves more problematic as juveniles are left to fend for themselves.

This article gives a clear representation of what will happen once the gray wolf is removed from the Endangered Species List in North America. The result has led to a public outcry among several animal rights activists and other people, which in this case, Native American people. As a lover of wildlife, I truly admire Mr. Shimek's statement about the consequences of wiping out the alpha male and alpha female wolf in a pack. Without the alpha leaders, a wolf pack would be vulnerable to not just factors from outside the pack but also factors within the pack which could be anything from battle for leadership to any form of reckless behavior that could cost young wolves their lives. In other words, destroying an alpha leader of a wolf pack could result in having more problematic wolves running about making lives more difficult for people. This is why I strongly believe that a better alternative should be sought, and this five-year moratorium is seems like just the right option. In addition to that, the people of Minnesota and the surrounding region should also pay attention about the plight of wolves in Michigan's Isle Royale National Park who are suffering from inbreeding due to shortage of females. With populations on the mainland consisting of approximately 3,000 animals, it is more than enough to reintroduce individuals on the island in order to revive its population. Without wolves on Isle Royale, the national park could lose its prestige and status within a number of years.

View article and video here       

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