Our Gray Wolf Population is Valuable—Show Them You Care

Our wolves provide numerous benefits to the state, and research shows their numbers are stable, so why is there going to be a wolf hunting and trapping season this fall?

Many of us grew up thinking of the wolf as a mythical creature lurking in the woods, ready to pounce on us without notice to consume our flesh.  Even as adults the mere mention of a wolf brings us back to that image of an innocent young girl dressed in a red cloak, fighting for her life.  Fairytales are fodder for the imagination.  They’ve been written throughout the ages to entertain children and adults alike, but their influence on the psyche can sometimes be anything but positive, and childhood stories about the big bad wolf are no exception.

Today the wolf is both loved and loathed.  In Minnesota and across the nation laws that once protected the gray wolf have been lifted and people are now lining up to decimate a creature whose very existence captures the essence of all that is beautiful in nature.  The wolf is one of the most misunderstood animals to inhabit the planet, and the desire to reduce their numbers in the wild stems from both fear and hatred. Such negative emotions have left no room for reason, and instead the public is being bombarded with misinformation that has no scientific basis.

The wolf is not a blood thirsty animal.  The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is a very social animal that lives within a pack composed mostly of family members.  The family lives, travels, and hunts together, and its members develop very close relationships with one another.  Their bond is so strong that wolves have even been known to sacrifice themselves to protect the family unit.  Gray wolves are shy and wary of humans so they tend to be elusive, but like all species they have an innate need to survive.  Wolves are carnivores that hunt both small and large game, and to do so they must cover a vast amount of territory on a daily basis.  On rare occasions their travels can lead them to farms where the lure of a good meal is just too difficult to pass up.  Fortunately livestock depredation is not a serious issue in Minnesota.  In 2011, there were only 88 verified wolf livestock complaints in the entire state, and only about 80 out of 7,000 farms in Minnesota experienced wolf depredation of livestock.  What most people don’t know is that farmers are reimbursed full market value for their animals.  As well, there are many effective non-lethal methods to prevent such incursions, and owners of livestock and pets can now shoot wolves on sight that pose any threat.  Problem wolves are trapped by certified private predator controllers—203 wolves were killed in 2011 and over 107 have been killed already this year.  

Our wolf numbers are not a cause for concern.  Most gray wolf packs number between four and nine.  In Minnesota it is estimated that we have about 3,000 wolves and 100 packs, most of which live in the northern part of the state.  Since wolves are highly susceptible to starvation and disease, in addition to their ability to control their own numbers due to limited natural habitat, our wolf population has remained stable since 1998—without the need for hunting and trapping.  

Without wolves, biodiversity is threatened.  Our wolves play a vital role in keeping the ecosystem in balance, and their presence helps maintain habitat for all wildlife in the forest.  Wolves keep vegetation along rivers and streams healthy by controlling the movement of animals like deer and elk. Wolves are responsible for culling weakened individuals from prey species such as rabbit, beaver and muskrats, and help to maintain a healthy population of all animals. 

Minnesota is home to the only native wolf population in the lower 48 states.  In the 20th century wolves were the only mammals deliberately driven to the brink of extinction by humans. Today our attitude towards wildlife has changed; outdoor enthusiasts outnumber hunters 4:1, so the existence of wolves and the possibility of seeing one in the wild is a significant draw for tourists.  We need to set an example and show the rest of the nation that as Minnesotans we respect and value our canine friends and they mean more to us than just a skull and pelt.  

Please join others who appreciate our wolf population in the quest to stop wolf hunting and trapping this fall.  The law passed by the Minnesota Legislature to allow hunting/trapping is a “permissive” law that simply allows the DNR to have a hunt whenever they choose.  The DNR does not have to hold the hunt.  Contact the DNR and tell them you don’t want our wolves hunted or trapped: Tom.landwehr@state.mn.us (651) 296-5484, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155-4040

Graphic provided courtesy of: 


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Michelle Valadez February 16, 2014 at 01:11 PM
For Jim Flaherty who wanted to spout off statistics about wolf attacks I'll just post the link to an article by Dr. David Mech of the International Wolf Center. Article is titled "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" http://www.wolf.org/learn/basic-wolf-info/wolves-and-humans/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolf/ Enough said on the "wolf attacks" - Actually, I have seen a wild wolf while traveling through the mountains near Yellowstone. The next time I observed wolves was at the International Wolf Center in Ely. I've been to the BWCA many times for canoeing and for dogsledding. Guess why our family goes to Ely... to see wolves and bears, same reason thousands of others travel there. From around the globe people travel to that area to see wolves, which is why so many were upset with Mayor Ross Peterson when he wrote disparaging remarks about wolf advocates in the Ely paper. It upset people around the globe that have traveled to Ely just to visit the IWC and also to see wild wolves. Ely is nothing without wildlife tourism. Hunting and fishing just isn't the draw it use to be. You obviously haven't looked at the report by the DNR on the money being spent in the state of Minnesota on hunting vs. tourism. Who brings in more money? - U.S Statistics for 2012: 34 Billion made from hunters, $55 Billion from wildlife watchers. 13 million hunters vs. 71 million wildlife watchers. According to the DNR $500 million is spent by hunters in Minnesota while $700 million is spent by wildlife watchers. We stand to lose a lot more by alienating wildlife watchers. I'm sorry you don't like factual statistics on farms and depradation but if you don't like my statistics on the number of farms in Minnesota than blame our DNR because those statistics came from them. All of it is available on their website if you care to look, they also testified at the wolf informational hearing this year (2014) about the very statistics you don't want to believe in. At this same hearing farmers were present to talk about poor husbandry practices of farmers being the cause of any livestock kills. We also listened to hunters speak about the overabundance of deer and the lack of skill by hunters being the cause of not going home with a deer as oppose to wolves taking them all. We also learned this year that our moose numbers are not dropping like the DNR originally thought, in fact, they are stable. Hmmm... So much for all that hoopla about wolves taking all the deer. You are right, I will agree to disagree. I'd prefer to listen to unbiased hunters, scientists, farmers, etc... on what is really going on with our wolves as oppose to whatever you are listening to.
Michelle Valadez February 16, 2014 at 01:25 PM
Correct my error on wildlife watching. 71 billion not million (for U.S.)
Michelle Valadez February 16, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Oh, and for the record Jim. The farmers and hunters that came to speak at the hearing about wolves live in wolf country not in Southern MN.
Michelle Valadez February 16, 2014 at 01:34 PM
One Northern MN hunter testimony speaks out on wolf hunt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Khc8pbR6LYE A MN Hunter on wolf hunting: "Ethical hunters do not have contempt for their prey"
Michelle Valadez February 16, 2014 at 01:35 PM
Kathy Zweber is a farmer and hunter, her farm exists just north of Duluth. She spoke out against the wolf hunt at the hearing.


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