Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Evidently, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and a majority of the Minnesota Legislature—the parties responsible for ramming a wolf hunting season through the Capitol five years ahead of schedule.
When the federal government removed gray wolves from the endangered and threatened species lists in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in January, the wolf haters ramped up their bloodthirsty lobbying efforts for a 2012 season to start shooting them legally for the first time in Minnesota since the 1970s.
The DNR states that “Minnesotans clearly value wolves. Public opinion surveys and attitudes demonstrated during development of the state’s wolf management plan show people view the animal as ecologically important, scientifically fascinating, aesthetically attractive, recreationally appealing and significant for future generations. Only a small minority fear and dislike wolves or believe Minnesota would be a more desirable place without this apex predator.”
Yet it was that “small minority” that drove the legislature to start killing wolves this year rather than wait five years to see how the population stabilized after federal delisting, as the original plan called for. That same “small minority” has been shooting wolves illegally for decades and is now just looking for cover for their cowardly deeds. It’s one of the few federal crimes that I hear people–including one state lawmaker–openly admit to committing.
DNR Fish & Wildlife Director Ed Boggess told a legislative panel earlier this year: “There’s been a pent-up enthusiasm, a pent-up demand to hunt wolves.” It’s not likely that “enthusiasm” is driven by a sudden popularity of wolf fur among hunters. And it’s certainly not for their meat.
The wolf season has little to do with protecting farmers from wolf depredation of livestock, either; they already are compensated for those losses. It has equally little to do with population management of wolves. According to the DNR, Minnesota’s wolf population—the largest in the lower 48 states—has remained “relatively stable” at around 3,000 for the past decade without a hunting season.
A total of 6,000 wolf licenses will be made available via lottery (5,400 hunting and 600 trapping/snaring); 95 percent will be sold to residents and 5 percent to nonresidents. A quota of 400 wolves will be allowed to be killed during the season.
So the legal killing of wolves has been signed, sealed and delivered by the State of Minnesota, and the season is set. Nothing more that can be done about it, right?
$34 to save a wolf?
If you’re willing to invest $34, you can buy a chance on saving one wolf’s life. Simply enter the lottery for one of the 6,000 licenses—a $30 wolf license must be purchased to enter the lottery, which costs another $4—and if you win the right to kill a wolf, don’t exercise it.
There’s nothing that requires you to use a wolf license just because you buy one. Since there’s a cap on the number of licenses sold, every license that is won in the lottery but not used reduces the chances that the wolf kill quota set by the DNR will be reached.
Ordinarily, this might be seen as unwise meddling in a scientifically-based hunting season. But there is nothing scientific about this wolf hunting season. It’s a purely political response to satisfy the bloodlust of a vocal minority of wolf haters. A season on wolves is not necessary to maintain a desirable wolf population. In fact, the DNR hasn’t even determined what Minnesota’s maximum wolf population should be, only that it shouldn’t fall below a winter population of 1,600.
So if you think a season on wolves is one of the most idiotic things to come down the pike since a mourning dove season, step right up and invest $34 on a chance to buy a wolf a reprieve from the executioner. It may not stop the jackpine savages from shooting wolves altogether, but at least you’ll get the satisfaction of making them work a little harder to “get their wolf.”
As a deer hunter who knows the value that wolves provide in culling deer herds of their unhealthy numbers, among other benefits for the soul, I plan to do just that.
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