Friday, March 20, 2015

Listen to the people; protect #wolves

JULIE ANDRZEJEWSKI, ST. CLOUD 

According to a DNR survey in 2012, 79 percent of Minnesotans opposed wolf hunting and trapping. Other 2013 polls indicate a large majority of Minnesotans and Wisconsinites want wolves to be protected, oppose trophy recreational wolf hunting, and the use of traps, bait and dogs to hunt wolves.

To reinforce the validity of these numbers, Michigan citizens overwhelmingly rejected two wolf-hunting bills in the November elections in the first statewide vote on wolf hunting in the nation. A 2013 poll shows most Americans support the Endangered Species Act.

Still, misinformation and misrepresentation persist. For instance, wolf depredation of livestock in Minnesota is minimal, and farmers are compensated at 100 percent of the estimated value of the livestock. Further, there are animal husbandry practices that can reduce the likelihood of wolf depredation and proven non-lethal management strategies to protect livestock.

Wolves do not have a negative impact on the number of deer. Former Wisconsin DNR biologist Adrian Wydeven stated, "Wolves are not driving deer numbers down to dangerous levels. The biggest factor that affects our deer herd are winters and the hunting harvest. When wolves have established themselves, deer are going to be more elusive. … They're harder to see, so it gives the impression there's a lot less deer."

Indeed, scientists have documented the positive impacts that wolves have on ecosystems. They keep deer populations healthier by culling the sickest members of herds. By keeping the herds together and moving, they reduce overgrazing, providing more habitat for beavers, otters, muskrats, fish and waterfowl.

So why are the Minnesota DNR, state officials and some members of Congress not listening to the majority of their constituents?

Let's remind them to support the Endangered Species Act and stop state wolf hunts. Support policies for wolf protection, not killing!

Julie Andrzejewski, professor emeritus, Social Responsibility Program at St. Cloud State University, has published on the environment and the sixth mass extinction of species

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