Corporations vs Wolf Recovery

The Wolf: a Corporate Roadblock

Corporate roadblock to recovering wolves
Photo: NPS

I live in the heart of wolf country in northern Minnesota and have written extensively about the wolf. One of points I have emphasized is that it was not what we did as Minnesotans that allowed Minnesota to have always had wolves, rather it was that we had remote and rather inaccessible wild lands, such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in which wolves could find refuge from mans attempts to eradicate them. Even when planes, out to shoot them from the air, would fly over the BWCA, wolves would leave the openness of frozen lake surfaces upon hearing the planes and enter the thick dark forests of the region where they became invisible.

Prior to de-listing in 2012, I and others were of the opinion that the majority of Minnesotans had reconciled themselves to wolves. I recall reading a commentary by the editor of a well read “hook and bullet” newspaper. In this commentary, the editor mused about a sports writer’s convention in Montana and the fears and paranoia from his counter parts in the western mountain states about the havoc wolves would inflict on game populations and livestock. He wrote of how we have always had wolves and how their numbers and range had expanded, yet Minnesota was having the best deer hunting in recorded history and how livestock depredation was so minimal that it wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen. The upshot of his message was wolves are no big deal or threat. Ostensibly Minnesotans had not only reconciled themselves to wolves, they had become iconic to us.

Upon de-listing in 2012 a Pandora’s Boxes opened and out of this box a black pall of ignorance and ancient hatred escaped and pervaded the thinking of political parties and environmental groups. The wolf reverted from being an icon to being a political and economic issue. Seemingly all the years of rehabilitation in the minds of Minnesotans was ignored by both political parties, deer hunters, livestock men and even many environmental groups. Yes, I said environmental groups. Many environmentalists responded that the wolf did not need “endangered” or “threatened” status or that a hunt would be just fine, or that by embracing the wolf would endanger their relationship with legislators from wolf country and not allow them to get pet legislation passed.

The net result of delisting from the hunts of 2012, 13 and 14 were over 1750 wolves killed in Minnesota by hunter/trappers, livestock complaints and private land owners and this number does not include all the wolves that were killed by poachers.

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