Ms. Lange's well-written appeal reminds Governor Dayton of his obligation, not only to Minnesotans, but to the entire nation. As Minnesotans, we believe that the nation should be able to rely on our state to set wildlife policy in a manner consistent not with the demands of the agricultural lobbies or the very small percentage of people who kill or maim wildlife for "fun," but in the public trust, recognizing and allocating appropriate weight to both the science and the public's clear intent that the wolf forever howl in our north woods. Lange is correct in that the clearly ill-advised and hasty hunting, trapping and snaring of wolves in Minnesota that took place last year must NOT be repeated.
It is particularly important that Ms. Lange makes this plea as a resident of northern Minnesota. The impression that most of us in wolf country want wolves tortured and killed, either for "sport" or because those involved in animal agriculture seem to have a hatred for non-human predators far out of proportion to actual economic considerations, is simply false. As I wrote in a column for the Duluth Budgeteer (April 8, 2013), St. Louis County Commissioner Mike Forsman misled the Minnesota Senate Environment and Energy Committee last March when he testified to the effect that the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners had passed a resolution in support of the wolf hunt. There is no record of any such resolution. It simply didn't happen.
The Northwoods Wolf Alliance works on protecting Ma'iingan from a perspective that embraces traditional Anishinaabeg environmental ethics as we understand them, in what we call Anishinaabeg Akiing (parts of MN, WI and MI) and is based in Duluth. Our group, along with other groups and individuals in Minnesota, was dismissed by the Governor in his August statement to the effect that he heard no significant opposition to the wolf hunt throughout all of 2012. Our group has nearly 600 members and continues to grow. Wolf Walk 2012 drew hundreds and got coverage in the Huffington Post. We've rallied repeatedly in Duluth, as well as in Bemidji, St. Paul, Virginia, Hinckely and elsewhere.
Deaf to the voices of wolf supporters around the state, Governor Dayton appears to be culturally blind as well. Does he not see that most of the northern part of our state is in ceded territory? Has he no respect for the fact that northern Minnesota is Anishinaabeg country and that every tribe in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes (MCT) as well as the Red Lake Nation, banned wolf hunting, and that two, the White Earth Nation and the Red Lake Nation, declared their reservations to be wolf sanctuary? Does he not recognize the profound disrespect for the spirit, if not also the letter of the various treaties which apply in the ceded territories, in inviting mainly white sport hunters to come into Anishinaabeg country, to kill their brother for fun?
It is ecological insanity to authorize another hunting, trapping and snaring season on Ma'iingan in 2013. It is economic insanity to sanction the irrational hatred of a few towards this animal when people spend millions of dollars each year to come to the north woods, hoping just to hear that iconic howl. Governor Dayton, it is a shame that you did not hear us last year. It is unfortunate that you will not acknowledge that your and the DNR's true constituency is not sport hunting organizations or the agricultural lobbies, but the citizens of this state - citizens who have told you in many ways, from lawsuits, polls and rallies, to the tribal bans and creation of wolf sanctuaries, that they do not want to subsidize the recreational killing or torture of wolves in Minnesota. It is a shame that state agencies and state policy have been captured to such a degree by special interests.
The Governor has stated that he has no power to end the wolf hunt. It is our understanding that the 2011 legislature merely authorized the DNR to institute a hunting/trapping season at its discretion. It did not mandate that wolves be hunted and trapped in Minnesota. Even if the matter is in the hands of the legislature and the courts at this time, it strikes me as disingenuous of the governor to act as if his influence is not a significant variable in this matter. Governor Dayton should immediately direct the Democratic members of the House and Senate to get a bill through committee to halt the planned hunt with all due haste.
The DNR Roundtable worked hard to create a wolf management plan that was to be the policy of this state upon federal removal of the wolf from the Endangered Species List. Sport hunting groups, ag lobbies and the tribes were at the negotiating table. That agreed-upon plan was well thought out, well researched and contained a rational balance of the various interests identified as being important to stakeholders in Minnesota. The Northwoods Wolf Alliance calls upon the governor to direct the DNR to return to that management plan. Do not allow another hunting, trapping and snaring season on wolves in Minnesota in 2013. We do not accept that Governor Dayton is powerless to effect positive influence that we may avoid continuing a disastrous policy.