What a Dead Wolf Looks Like
I am updating my Oct. 15 post here to ask Where the Hell Are All the Dead Wolves?
There have been dead deer photos all over, as usual, showing the prowess of hunters who managed to bring down a whitetail with a Winchester. But, weirdly, I have not been able to find ANY photos of any of the 55 wolves the state says were killed by hunters over the weekend in the opening of the first Minnesota wolf hunt since the gray wolf was “de-listed.” Not a single photo of a Great White Hunter holding the bloody carcass to prove he/she is badder than any wolf. Not one!
Why? Let me offer a theory: The state don’t want no stinking pictures of dead wolves out there because they might upset the general public, which overwhelmingly OPPOSES wolf hunting and because bloody wolf photos might draw attention to the state’s bungled approach to the Hurry Up Hunt and thestate’s breaking of its promise to wait at least 5 years after de-listing.
Please read the post below, and then see if YOU can find any dead wolf pictures.
Send them MY way if you find them.
I won’t hold my breath.
Here’s a surprise: Two national wildlife groups have stepped in to try to block the badly botched plan to hold the first Minnesota Wolf Hunt, which is scheduled to start in just 19 days.
And when I say it was a surprise, I mean, of course, that it is no surprise at all. Minnesota game officials, spurred by the behind-the-scenes antics of state legislators, rushed a Wolf Kill plan into the field before folks had fully embraced the de-listing of the gray wolf by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and despite years of promises that the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would wait at least five years after the wolf was removed from the endangered species list. Instead, the ink on the federal de-listing order was hardly dry before the state started planning on killing varmints and opening the way for trophy-dreaming Big Game Suburban Dudes to start planning a spot on their Rec Room walls for a Big Bad Wolf skin.
Predictably, now, there’s a good chance of another protracted court fight over the wolf’s fate in Minnesota. And there damn well should be. A state court tossed out a recent challenge from two newly minted animal lovers’ groups last week, but those two groups today asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to reconsider that ruling. They also picked up two important, and powerful, allies: The Humane Society and The Fund for Animals, both of which have a lot more court savvy and a lot bigger teeth, have filed notice that they intend to sue the Fish & Wildlife Service to overturn the hunting plans approved by Minnesota and Wisconsin.
This could be huge: The wolf has come back from the edge of extinction in both states, but both also have seen a primitive wolf hatred flaring back into the open.
In this situation, the wolf needs strong national friends. Few in Minnesota are ready to defend it.
Not even the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, which started out as a staunch proponent of the wolf’s place in the ecosystem, has taken a stand against a rush to “harvest” as many as 13 percent of the estimated 3,000 wolves in the state this fall. The Wolf Center has educational displays about the illegal killing of wolves, but has said virtually nothing about the imminent legal killing, perhaps because Ely is not exactly a warm and fuzzy place.
“There are two sides to every story,” said a spokesman for the Wolf Center, explaining why the center, with an annual budget of about $1.5 million and 35,000 visitors, has not taken a position on the issue. “Our job is to tell you what the two opinions are.”
Uh, OK. I thought the job of the wolf center was to advocate on behalf of an untamed predator that stirs up strong feelings and primitive fears among humans, but which scientists say occupies a critical niche in the natural environment. In fact, during a visit to the Wolf Center in August, I watched a powerful pro-predator documentary in the center’s auditorium: “Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators,” is a 2009 film (narrated, amusingly, by actor Peter Coyote) that has been shown on PBS and which makes the case that the environment without wolves and mountain lions and other predators suffers degradation, imbalance and a loss of many other species. Part of the documentary was filmed in northern Minnesota and features cattle farmers who have learned to live with occasional losses by defending their herd not with rifles but with Great Pyrenees dogs. But the film also features earnest Minnesota DNR spokesmen promising — absolutely — that any hunting of wolves after federal de-listing will only take place after a careful and thoughtful consensus-building period of at least five years. As far as I know, that film is still playing in the Wolf Center, as we are within weeks of shooting and strangling wolves, and shredding that promise.
Below: A clip from “Lords of Nature.”
Tellingly, a heavy majority of Minnesotans are opposed to wolf hunting, but that hasn’t stopped the plan from going forward. And, significantly, Minnesota Indian tribes have come out strongly against the proposed hunt. But, as usual, the state has turned a deaf ear to Indian perspectives.
Bwana gotta hunt.
Apparently believing it should do something, the Wolf Center is planning a symposium next October in Duluth called, “Wolves and Humans at the Crossroads.” But that discussion is shaping up to be at least a year late and 400 wolf hides short. It is not the crossroads between man and wolf that is the problem this fall. It is the crosshairs.
Minnesota state officials have inflated the estimated number of wolves as the hunt has drawn nearer; from what was recently said to have been a population of about 3,000 — a number that had remained stable for a decade — it is now claimed there are 4,000 wolves. By the time the shooting starts, there no doubt will be at least 10,000 wolves in the state, many of which will be pretending to be the grandmothers of unsuspecting children in red riding hoods.
The reason for the suit filed by the national wildlife groups is simple: As I wrote here in January, when Minnesota took over official management of its wolf population, the state broke its promise — brokered during years of efforts to arrive at an agreement among all stakeholders — to wait at least five years after de-listing before starting a hunt. The Hurry Up and Shoot ‘Em crowd holds sway at the Legislature and they had their way behind closed doors last year when lawmakers were meeting to negotiate an end to the summer shutdown of state government. When the doors opened at last, the shutdown was over and so was the waiting period for wolf killing: Without public notice or hearings, legislators overturned the existing agreement and ordered the DNR to start the shooting, now.
“The states have allowed the most extreme voices to grab hold of wolf management,” the president of the U.S. Humane Society has said. “The result could be devastating for this species.”
So if you thought this was a done deal, hold on: Judges don’t like backroom deals like this hurried-up hunt, so there is a chance, maybe a good one, that the fate of the wolf will soon be back in familiar hands: In the courts.
For more from opponents of the upcoming Wolf Kill, please see: