Column: Wolves belong to the people and should not be huntedWolves “belong” to the public. Most of the public, whatever color, do not want them hunted — again. I feel that the position of the tribes and tribal people, as well as 370 or so members of the North Wolf Alliance has been ignored by the leadership of St. Louis County.
By: Reyna Crow, For the Budgeteer News
Wolves “belong” to the public. Most of the public, whatever color, do not want them hunted — again. I feel that the position of the tribes and tribal people, as well as 370 or so members of the North Wolf Alliance has been ignored by the leadership of St. Louis County.
County Commissioner Mike Forsman testified on March 14 at the Minnesota Senate Environment and Energy Committee hearing on a bill to reinstate the five-year moratorium on wolf hunting in Minnesota. The bill is on S.F. #0666. He essentially said that wolves cannot be managed without a hunt. He referenced a resolution that he said was passed by the County Board, stating: “St. Louis County did take and pass a resolution in support of the management of wolves ... [and] certainly, [with] no hunting, no trapping, there is no management.” A recording of his testimony has been posted on YouTube.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ decision to allow the recreational hunting and trapping of wolves has been as controversial in Duluth and throughout the state — and now, in St. Louis County government.
Commissioner Forsman declined to be interviewed for this column. The deputy county administrator helped me in my search for documentation of resolutions that dealt with wolves and wolf management. The only two documents we could find that dealt with wolf management were a 2009 resolution authorizing the USDA to trap some beavers and wolves, and another the following July supporting the removal of Minnesota wolves from the federal endangered species list. Even though we searched for documentation of a resolution in favor of wolf “management” by allowing a hunt, as Forsman says there is, none were found.
The term wildlife” management” may include hunting and trapping or be limited to non-lethal methods of deterring predator attacks on livestock or pets or selected killing of wild animals seen as being a problem.
Forsman said that without hunting and trapping there is no management of wolves. Any claim that the hunting and trapping of wolves is necessary for their “management” is in direct conflict with the DNR’s John Erb, who reported that the wolf populations showed no significant increase since the mid-1990s in his report titled “Distribution and Abundance of Wolves in Minnesota, 2007-08.” Therefore, if wolf populations did not expand without a hunt, a hunt is not needed to manage them.
Oral arguments were scheduled to be heard in the Minnesota Supreme Court last Wednesday regarding the merits of the suit filed by Howling For Wolves and the Center For Biological Diversity, to the effect that the DNR placed insufficient weight on public opinion in electing to allow the recent wolf hunt.
The Duluth area is home to many Anishinaabeg people. Two bands have reservations within St. Louis County. One of the reasons that many Native people are against the wolf hunt is because the wolf plays an integral role in their creation story. The story, which I’ve summarized from a document published by the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians, describes ma’iingan (wolf) and Original Man as brothers, who walked the earth together naming everything after which the “Creator separated them and sent Original Man and ma’iingan on separate paths, but indicated that as brothers, what happened to one of them would also happen to the other ....” Native people have seen both themselves and the wolf mistreated. The White Earth Band’s document states “Over time, both the Ma’iingan and the Anishinaabeg have shared a similar fate. Both have lost lands, both have been mistreated, both have been misunderstood and both have been hunted.”
Our community deserves to be represented in an honest, fair and factually accurate manner. Duluthians, write Commissioner Forsman and insist that he formally reflect the record and represent Duluth and St. Louis County more accurately.
Reyna Crow lives in Duluth.