Photo courtesy of USFWS.
Dear Mr. Great Lakes Wolf,
I can hardly believe it, but the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) is ripping through wolf-related plans and strategies, and as skeptical as I initially was—and still am—gray wolves in Minnesota might not be at the top of the food chain come late fall 2012.
According to a press release I received late last night, the MNDNR is setting a very conservative wolf harvest quota of 400 animals, scheduled to begin with a late November—2012!—hunting and trapping season. Tags will be distributed via lottery system, with a quota of 6,000 licenses awarded. The season will close immediately once the 400-kill quota is met. Officially, Minnesota’s population of Great Lakes gray wolves transitions from federal protection to state management tomorrow.
All this, of course, still has to be formatted into a bill, passed by legislators and signed by the governor before the end of the legislative session in order for a proposed season to become reality.
And before anyone gets to apply for a tag, procedural grounds state that a public comment session must also be held. I can guarantee you it won’t be pretty, but I don’t think emotion-driven public opinion is going to be enough to override the scientific data that supports the fact we need to start managing these wolves.
The “gum in our shoe tread” part of this issue remains idle as legal battles ignite. I spoke in-depth with a few of my contacts at the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, who are at the center of the legal bowels of the wolf delisting/hunting issue, and although the anti-hunting groups have been eerily silent, the USSA is fully anticipating a slough of legal attacks in the near future. The good news: The boys at the USSA are more ready to fight for us—and for what’s best for the wolves—than ever before.
I am both surprised and impressed with how the MNDNR has been handling this situation, and I applaud their cautious and swift progression. As a hunter, I want the opportunity to kill a wolf as much as anyone else. But, I also don’t want to see wolf numbers in jeopardy again, and I don’t want this entire process to belly-flop. If it does, the Minnesota wolf management plan will become the bane of hunters/conservationists/legislators everywhere any time new hunting regulations are considered.
I’m terrified of hearing, “We’ll, you know what happened when Minnesota tried to manage its wolf population!” I desperately want this to be a success for hunters, and for wolves.
What’s your thought: If a 2012 Minnesota wolf hunting season comes to fruition, is it even possible for 6,000 hunters to kill 400 wolves? Hunting wolves, after all, is a bit more difficult than stalking fawns on a corn pile.
Keep your nose to the wind.