Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in outdoor and travel markets. A former small-town newspaper editor and reporter, she constantly hunts for news headlines you need to read. Barbara also publishes Women’s Outdoor News online and pens columns for the National Wild Turkey Federation and Shooting Sports USA. Hailing from the Ozarks of Missouri, this avid hunter is now mentoring the second generation of hunters - her own little bevy of Realtree-wearing grandchildren.
Wolf Management Growing Pains
Last January, when the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin got the word that wolves had been removed from the endangered species list, two states moved quickly to set hunting seasons in place for 2012. Of course, there has been pushback from the antis, but also concern from some Native American tribes who believe the wolf is sacred.
Minnesota leads the pack and will offer a hunting and trapping season this fall and winter. Minnesota is home to the largest population of wolves in the lower 48 – approximately 3,000. The DNR proposed a two-part, split season: an early season that runs with firearms deer season and then a later season. Six thousand licenses will be available: 3600 in the early season and 2400 in the late season. Six hundred trapping licenses will be reserved.
Native Americans in Minnesota criticize the plan. In fact, they have banned hunting and trapping on their lands and cite spiritual grounds for their reason. Said Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond cu Lac Band of Lake Superios Chippewa, in an article in The Sacramento Bee, "The wolf is part of our creation story, and therefore many Ojibwe have a strong spiritual connection to the wolf. Many Ojibwe believe the fate of the wolf is closely tied to the fate of all the Ojibwe. For these reasons the Fond du Lac Band feels the hunting and trapping of wolves is inappropriate." The DNR declined requests from Chippawa bands to close public and private nontribal lands within the reservation boundaries. In the same article, it reported the response from the DNR Commission Tom Landwehr to the tribes’ request for closure: "We fully recognize and respect your authority to close tribal lands to the taking of wolves, but we believe that the public should be given the opportunity to hunt on the public and private nontribal lands within the reservation boundary."
In Wisconsin, the DNR is proposing a statewide quota of 201 wolves across six zones, with a season that runs from Oct. 15 to the end of February. This accounts for about 20 percent of the population. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 880 wolves live in the state. The DNR wants to reduce that number to 350, and has targeted some of the depredation problem areas with higher sub-quotas. It will issue 1,000 wolf hunting licenses, and expects a 10 percent success rate. As for the Native Americans, a federal ruling in 1991 found that tribes have the right to harvest 50 percent of the quota of any animal in their territories. A portion of each of the six wolf zones falls within those territories.
The Natural Resources Board will hold a meeting in Stevens Point on July 17 to further discuss the season and vote on the rules. The public is invited.
Michigan still classifies wolves as a protected, nongame species, but it loosened its options – which means it allows for lethal means –for wolves preying on livestock and dogs. As of last January, it was estimated that Michigan contains an estimated 687 wolves.
It’s always interesting to follow the development of setting a new season on a game animal. I’m looking forward to reading about the firsts in these states and seeing what transpires as humans continue their quest to conserve appropriately.
Will you apply for a wolf hunt?