Monday, April 8, 2013

Restore decency, stop killing wolves

Published April 07, 2013

Wolves are as much a part of the real Minnesota as the 10,000 lakes. No one would say there are too many lakes in the state and lobby to destroy a bunch of them; but that was done to wolves, behind closed doors, and more than 400 innocent wolves subsequently were killed in just a few months.

By: Robert Goldman, Duluth News Tribune
Wolves are as much a part of the real Minnesota as the 10,000 lakes. No one would say there are too many lakes in the state and lobby to destroy a bunch of them; but that was done to wolves, behind closed doors, and more than 400 innocent wolves subsequently were killed in just a few months.
When America’s wolves were expelled from the Endangered Species List in the northern Rockies and in the Upper Midwest due to politics and not science, I had some faith that decent Minnesotans would protect the wolves there, and I followed the situation closely.

After all, 80 percent of Minnesotans voted in a Department of Natural Resources survey to keep wolves protected. The native Ojibwe people voiced strong opposition to the hunting and killing of their sacred brother wolf. And a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting after any federal delisting had been worked out after a long, inclusive and democratic process years earlier and made into law. That was democracy at work.

Since no comprehensive wolf population survey has been done since 2008, population estimates are sketchy. The population reportedly has not been growing for a decade and could be as low as 1,600 wolves. Hundreds of wolves already are killed every year allegedly to protect cattle and by poachers and due to vehicle collisions, disease and starvation. Randomly killing more wolves for “fun” is certainly ethically and ecologically questionable. After all, wolves are not numbers; they are living beings.

Wolves benefit the ecology in so many ways. They keep their prey species healthy and strong. And they ensure biodiversity and protect the health of living forests. Should that be punishable by persecution and death?

Eco-tourism provides a billion-dollar boost to Minnesota’s annual economy. In a world of vanishing wild lands and wildlife, wolves are the superstars folks come to see, hear and admire. Does anyone
*eally want to ruin what remains of Minnesota’s wholesome reputation by killing the golden goose of the state’s forests?

After going through a list of shaky excuses to justify killing wolves, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources finally acknowledged the random trapping and shooting of wolves was purely for sport killing and pelts. The DNR also admitted that random killing would have little impact on the already minimal depredation of cattle (only 91 cows out of 140,000 were taken by wolves in northern Minnesota in 2011) and no impact whatsoever on the state’s massive deer population.

Shame on wolf biologist David Mech for enabling the persecution and death of thousands of wolves in the Rockies and Upper Midwest. Haven’t wolves suffered enough from ignorance, hatred and cruelty? Why has Mech given his blessing to the recreational killing of wolves by people who demonize and hate them instead of spreading understanding, respect, tolerance and even love for living wolves? Isn’t that supposed to be the mission of his International Wolf Center?

The Public Trust Doctrine states that wildlife in each state is owned by no one individually but by everyone collectively. According to this democratic doctrine, wildlife should be managed (or left alone) according to the wishes of the majority of residents. Isn’t it time we treated America’s wildlife with respect and decency, according to the humane values of the majority, which has evolved throughout America?

Wolves are highly intelligent, highly social, family-oriented and sensitive beings. They should not be subject to barbaric trapping, hideous snaring or any random slaughter as if they exist in a shooting gallery for sadistic blood sport. As a beautiful, ecologically vital, apex predator placed on this Earth by the Creator, wolves have every right to live in their native homeland, unmolested and free.
Protect the wolves of Minnesota. Redeem your ethical and democratic values. Reinstate the five-year moratorium.

Robert Goldman of Portland, Maine, is a wolf and wildlife defender who created a petition, “Protect America’s Wolves,” through SignOn.org. It has nearly 20,000 signatures. He has lived and worked in Alaska and out West, including in Yellowstone National Park and in California.

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