Minnesota Ignores Indians, Allows Wolf Hunting


Against the steadfast opposition of American Indians in the state, Minnesota will hold its first managed wolf hunting and trapping season this fall. As a result, a cultural clash is brewing between state officials and Indians, who revere wolves.

"The wolf is part of our creation story, and therefore many Ojibwe have a strong spiritual connection to the wolf,” Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, wrote in a letter to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this spring, according to the Star Tribune. "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.''

On December 21, 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region had recovered and no longer required the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. The rule removing ESA protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes became effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Wolves total more than 4,000 animals in the three core recovery states in the western Great Lakes area and have exceeded USFWS recovery goals. Minnesota's population is estimated at 2,921 wolves, while an estimated 687 wolves live in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and another 782 in Wisconsin. Each state, with tribal consultation, was supposed to develop a plan to manage wolves after federal protection was removed.

Steve Mortensen of the Leech Lake Band's Division of Resource Management noted that once the wolf was removed from the ESA protection, its management returned to the state and tribes. But he told the Star Tribune that the state hasn't discussed its wolf management plan with bands.

"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?'' he asked.

With a healthy, delisted wolf population, though, many in Minnesota support a limited hunting and trapping season, and this spring the state legislature authorized the hunt on the recommendation of the DNR.

"We understand wolves to be educators, teaching us about hunting and working together in extended family units,'' said James Zorn, executive administrator for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents 11 Ojibwe tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The commission opposes wolf hunts. "Wolves exemplify perseverance, guardianship, intelligence and wisdom,'' Zorn said.

Ed Boggess, DNR fish and wildlife division director, told the Star Tribune the agency has tried to be inclusive and has had discussions with bands about its wolf management plans. He said that the delisting returned whatever authority the bands and state originally had but that it didn't convey new co-management authority to the bands. He also spoke to the issue of tribal cultural concerns.

"We recognize and respect those cultural views, but when it comes to managing wildlife, under these treaties and rights that were conveyed, all we can deal with are issues of conservation, public safety and public health,'' Boggess told the Star Tribune. "Cultural issues are for each culture to address as they see fit.''

That doesn’t sit well in Indian country.

"There is considerable concern about taking wolves for sport,'' Mortensen wrote to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "Many tribal members feel that wolves are their brothers and they should be respected as such.”

Look for continued pressure to stop the wolf hunt from Indian country this summer as Minnesota’s plans develop.

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richardberrelez's picture
Submitted by richardberrelez on
Do wolf hunters have a need to kill wolves or do they just want to hunt them down and kill them for sport? The wolf is a majestic animal that represents the United States of America and tells the story of this country and its people. The wolf is harmless until people try to corner them and kill them and I would not blame wolves for attacking the hunter in order to protect itself. Stir up a hornets nest and see what happens. An evil person is always ready to kill for no good reason. I do not support this decision to hunt down the wolf anywhere.

louisekane's picture
Submitted by louisekane on
Its time that the states stop pandering to the trophy hunting and livestock industries. The tragedy in the MInnesota hunt is that this is one state where the population of wolves has stabilized and there is a great opportunity to study wolves in a natural state where they have not been persecuted nor has their pack structure been disrupted. The state has had the authority to kill wolves that have harmed ranchers by killing livestock and they have done so. This wolf killing frenzy is a blight on America and most Americans want no part of it and strongly oppose it. I applaud the tribes for speaking out against this unconsionable hunt that is being conducted for thrill killing. Its disgusting

suebarko's picture
Submitted by suebarko on
the commercial farmers and ranchers are paying big contributions to political campaigns like amy klobuchar who is up for re election in minnesota...her and al franken...started this war....go and look at amy klobuchars facebook page it shows her sitting at the game fair and states something like...they really get my conservation ideas.... so that is the answer and then there are the trophy hunters... polaris insists that no one wants to buy a snowmobile because wolves may chase them...it is that they moved the plant to mexico and all those people lost their jobs...and they are boycotting and such...like me...now.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
It is an unbelievable nightmare for both the grey wolf and mankind, that the states have chosen to kill these beautiful creatures of the earth. Have people gone insane? If not for the mother earth and all creatures there would be no environment for man to sustain himself, and she will not sustain an evil mankind.

Bridget Robertson's picture
Bridget Robertson
Submitted by Bridget Robertson on
I find this appalling. The US has criticized other countries for their human rights violations. Yet here we are in 2013 still violating Indians and there shared beliefs. I hear people say that was then. No, it's now. To ignore the tribes who know more about this land and all living creatures on it, is to ignore our own lives. The wolf is sacred. To many. And those who advocate for them should not only be heard but heeded. We destroy the wolves out of ignorance that we are all connected and related.

Carolyn Logan's picture
Carolyn Logan
Submitted by Carolyn Logan on
We are just learning that homo sapiens and neanderthals existed at the same time what allowed the first to survive was their ability to bond with the wolf. The wolf transported the kill, that is, the mamouth, and it did so before the kill had become too old to eat. In caves of both ancient populations wolves are evident in those of the survivors, our ancestors. None are evident in the caves of the extinct. If killers want to call themselves hunters, let it be known that the wise are not fooled.

wolfhuntingoiscrazy's picture
Submitted by wolfhuntingoiscrazy on
Responsible hunters eat what they hunt. Wolves aren't edible. The hunting of wolves is just a plain expression of cruelty and pleasure of killing. Wolf hunting should not be allowed unless they are shooting problem wolves.

Mariana Aguirre
Mariana Aguirre
Submitted by Mariana Aguirre on
I'm not sure if your problem is still there, the last comment was on 11/23/1993, but just in case I thought to suggest to reach out to groups of people working together to protect animals rights. I am personally working with groups protecting cetaceans from hunting and captivity. These groups have support from people across the world. Here's is a link to a very smart and active group of people: Voices for the Taiji Dolphins-Ideas into Action. Best of luck to you and your cause. Sincerely, Mariana Aguirre. https://www.facebook.com/groups/TAGideasintoaction/

AllanBooyjzsen's picture
Submitted by AllanBooyjzsen on
Regarding the General Allotment Act of 1887, where the native Indians probably did not understand the terminology in the Act, can they not challenge this Act and at least have the ground within their territory put under their control, so that no one may hunt within the borders of their original territory? The state hasn't discussed its wolf management plan with the Indian Tribes, about hunting on their land! This should be an emphatic NO! The land may fall within the States borders, but the Indian Territories should be totally independent as far as their laws, beliefs, traditions and tribal cultural concerns are concerned. Lets face it the past, white politicians and settlers took advantage of the native Indian tribes and it is about time that they started giving back some of that which they "stole" back in history. Where is Dr. Sulivan's principles now? They were used against South Africa, but don't apply in the USA!