Minnesota Wolf Hunting

The History. The Legends. The Controversy.

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The Gray Wolf

The Grey Wolf, also called the Timber Wolf, lives in small packs made up of family. The alpha couple are usually the only wolves in the pack to breed, and the entire pack helps to raise the pups.

The most common cause of death among Grey Wolves is starvation; over half of the pups, and one-third of the adult wolves will starve to death each year. Wolves re territorial and will kill non-pack members who threaten them. However, if an orphaned pack of wolves in found, they will be "adopted" and raised by another pack.

On average, an adult wolf will weigh between 50 and 110 pounds, with a height (at shoulder) between 26 and 32 inches. Their paw prints average 4.5 inches long, and 3.5 inches wide. A grey wolf can be expected to live 6-8 years, but have been known to live up to 13 in the wild, and 16 in captivity. The Grey Wolf can thrive in any habitat in the Norther Hemisphere

Citation: 1,5
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The Myth

Anishinaabeg, the original man, was lonely and asked the creator for a companion. The creator sent him Ma'iingan, Wolf, to be his friend and brother. They were told to travel the earth, naming everything in nature.

Upon their return, the creator told them that from now on they would live separate but parallel lives. What happens to one of the species will also happen to the other.

Wolf felt badly that Anishinaabeg was alone once again. Not wanting him to be lonely, Wolf sent his descendent, Dog, as a sacred gift. Dog is the peoples devoted companion, making sure that they never have to walk alone.

"In the course of the brutal settlement of America, both the wolf and indigenous peoples were hunted, slaughtered, hated, and vilified as white culture bled across the tapestry of the land. Indeed, Wolf and the People are still walking parallel lives."

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The Extermination

When European colonists came to America, they brought with them cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep as sources of food and transportation. As the settlers hunted and killed the deer, elk, and moose, the wolves natural food source diminished. They quickly learned that the domesticated animals were easy targets. Meanwhile, the white men quickly learned to hate and fear the wolves.

By the 1800's, the American government started an eradication campaign. Gray Wolves all over the country were poisoned, trapped, shot, and hunted with dogs. The government, in turn, paid $20-$50 for every wolf killed. By the mid 1900's nearly all the Gray Wolves in the continental US had been exterminated- only a few in Minnesota and Michigan survived.

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The Recovery

By the late 1960's we had gained a better understanding of ecosystems, and the importance of keystone species, such as the wolf. In 1973 congress gave wolves protection under the Endangered Species Act.

It is estimated that only 750 Gray Wolves lived in Minnesota in 1950. In 2009, that number had risen to 2,900 individuals. In January of 2012, Gray Wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act, and placed under the management of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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Howling For Wolves PSA

The Controversy

In 2012, Minnesota opened a regulated hunting and trapping season, 413 wolves were "harvested" in the first season. According to the DNR, if the winter population of the Gray Wolf falls below 1,600 "appropriate and immediate action will be taken to reverse the decline."

But, the problem runs deeper than the possible re-endangerment of the wolves. To the Ojibwe, wolves represent working together, perseverance, guardianship, intelligence, and wisdom. Many tribe-members believe that what happens to the wolf will happen to their people.

Minnesota was supposed to consult with the Native American tribes to create a plan to manage the wolves after their removal from the Endangered Species Act. However, the state failed to do this before opening the first wolf hunting season.

"How can you ignore governments that have co-management authority of much of the wolf range and come up with a plan without their input?'' Asked Steve Mortensen of the Leech Lake Band's Division of Resource Management.

The wolves natural prey is deer and elk; and they play a big part in helping to maintain the populations of these animals. furthermore, the "ecology of fear" the presence of wolves creates leads to shorter grazing times for the deer and elk; resulting in less riverbank erosion, more vegetation, and a healthier habitat for birds and small animals.

On March 11, 2014, the Wolf Data Bill was approved by Minnesota Senate. The bill, that temporarily suspended the Minnesota Wolf hunt, implements a formal study on how the wolf hunt affects the population. It also includes a study on all known wolf illnesses and deaths, as well as all wolf vs livestock conflicts in the state. In addition, the DNR is now required to annualy assess Minnesotans attitudes toward wolfs and conduct a wolf census. The bill also returns some power to the Ojibwe tribes, allowing them to prohibit wolf hunting on tribal land if requested by tribal leadership.

Citation: 2,3,5,7

Work Cited

1) "Canis Lupus." . Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. . <http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=AMAJA01030>.

2) Maughan, Ralph. "Good News for Minnesota Wolves." . The Wildlife News, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 July 2014. <http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/03/11/good-news-for-minnesota-wolves/>.

3) "Minnesota Wolf Hunt Desecrates Ojibwe Creation Symbol." . Indian Country Today Meia Network, 5 July 2012. Web. 14 July 2014. <http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/07/05/minnesota-ignores-indians-allows-wolf-hunting-121922>.

4) Nienaber, Georgianne. "Minnesota Wolf Hunt Desecrates Ojibwe Creation Symbol ." Huffington Post 14 Nov. 2012, U.S. ed., sec. Huff Post Green: n. pag. Web.

5) "One of Minnesota's Vital Natural Resources." admin. Howling for Wolves, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://www.howlingforwolves.org/about-gray-wolf>.

6) "The Wolf That Changed America." PBS. PBS, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 July 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-wolf-that-changed-america/wolf-wars-americas-campaign-to-eradicate-the-wolf/4312/>.

7) "Wolf Management." . Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 July 2014. <http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/wolves/mgmt.html>.