November 11 2012
Saving the Grey Wolves
Wolves and humans have been coexisting for hundreds of years. Before Europeans conquered our vast country, wolves held a very esteemed place in Native American culture, as they were vital to forest ecosystems, and were often believed to be spiritual beings in many tribes (kidsplanet 1). As much as they were honored in tribal cultures, others feared them. Children’s fables often described them as “the big bad wolf” in stories such as Little Red Riding hood and The Three Little Pigs (kidsplanet 1). Settlers saw wolves in this way because they were a sort of competition, dwindling stock and wild game numbers (kidsplanet 1). Even into the 20th century, the belief that wolves were still a threat to human safety continued despite documentation to the contrary, and by the 1970s, the lower forty eight states had wolf populations less than three percent of their historical range, about 500 to 1,000 wolves (kidsplanet 1). In a book written by Bruce Hampton called The Great American Wolf, he states, “In the span of three hundred years nationwide, but only seventy years in the West, hunters in the United States had managed to kill off the wild prey of gray wolves; settlers, farmers, and ranchers had occupied most of the wolves' former habitat; wolfers had poisoned them; bounty hunters had dynamited their dens and pursued them with dogs, traps, and more poison; and finally, the government had stepped in and, primarily at the livestock industry's behest, quite literally finished them off.” Fortunately, around this time in the 70’s, American’s were starting to become much more aware of their impact on the environment and the wildlife. The Endangered Species Act was created in 1973, and the Grey Wolf was put on the list in 1974. After almost 35 years of restoration efforts and conservation work, the Grey Wolf has finally been taken off the endangered species list in Minnesota, with about 1,700 hundred wolves in the state (kidsplanet 1). Less than a year later, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) passed a law allowing a certain number of wolves to be hunted starting November 3, 2012 (kidsplanet 1). In the month and half the season has been open, about 150 Grey wolves have been killed (dnr.state.mn). Grey wolves are a vital part of our ecosystems and perhaps eventually grey wolves will once again thrive well enough that hunting them will not result in more conflict, but it is too soon to start the hunt again. Hunters should not be allowed to hunt grey wolves in Minnesota, because they have not had enough time to replenish their population and wolves are not a threat to human safety at all. Normally when an animal is taken off the endangered species list, it is given a five-year grace period to try and regain its spot back in the ecosystem before declaring a hunting season is even a thought in the minds of DNR decision makers (Horon 1). Since it took close to 40 years for the Grey wolf to be taken off the list, it seems logical to give the animal an even longer period to recover, to ensure that the animal does not get put on the list ever again. Though one hunt most likely will not kill off all the wolves, if hunting continues every year, there could be serious damage once again to the wolf population, as said in an article from a Wisconsin news website, madison.com. “One hunt won't put wolves… back on the list but research hints at possible longer-term harm to the wolf population and even an increase in wolves killing livestock, researchers say” (Seely 1). However, the Minnesota DNR ruled that less than one year was a sufficient amount of time for the wolves to repopulate, and opened a wolf-hunting season on November 3rd, 2012. Before settlers came to North America, more than 250,000 wolves roamed the uncharted territory that is now the United States (Cosmos magazine). With every year of citizen growth in the...