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LARSMONT… I have seen few outdoor issues as divisive as the hunting of the wolf. There are few opinions in the middle; people have lined up pretty much either for or against. For me, I’ll state honestly here that I love the outdoors. I enjoy doing things outdoors as much as possible. I’m not a hunter and never have been. I’m not against it per se—I just come from a family that has hardly any hunters within it. If someone wishes to hunt and they have a full understanding of and are willing to respect the game laws of the land, be safe and go forth, no problem with me.
Fishing? I lived on the Mighty Mississippi for about 30 years, and on or right next to Lake Superior for 16. I have done some fishing in my time, but I’m not a rabid fishing-type guy. Again, follow the rules and be a good steward of what Mother Nature has given to us. But even fishing has not been without dissent. I can distinctly recall the battles over spear fishing rights in the early nineties in northern Wisconsin and the controversy involved. It should be noted that the Native Americans of our land (or should I more appropriately note, their land) have been involved with both of these issues.
In the Native American spiritual realm, the wolf is held sacred. Native Americans have always realized the importance of the wolf in the ecosystem, and it is a celebrated part of their culture. They have always held sacred their right to spearfish, which has also been a longtime part of their culture. Needless to say, the Caucasian world has given little respect to the ways and culture of the Native American. I’ll leave that right there at this time.
Personally, I can’t claim to be an expert on outdoor issues, especially if politics are involved. And when it comes to a managed hunt that a culture within ours does not embrace, I have to give it some thought. So I started to read up and gather information. I know that when I moved to the North Shore in 1988, the wolf population was estimated at 2,000 animals. It is now estimated to be at 3,000. Proponents of the managed hunt claim the population has to be maintained to a certain level. I disagree.
When it comes to nature, I have always maintained that Mother Nature will take care of all in her own way. She might not work as quickly as some would like (DNR or hunters), but she always, without fail, has balanced things out. Part of the wolf hunt hysteria has been over livestock predation. My research has found that in the most recent year with data available, with a livestock population estimated at 250,000 animals within the wolf habitat range, that there were 111 cases of predation. That’s .0004 percent of the livestock population in the wolf range that fell victim to predation. Are there some more cases that don’t get reported or that we are not aware of?
Perhaps. But even with a ten percent margin of error, I don’t see this as a matter of great alarm. Additionally, farmers are compensated for their losses due to predation. $150k was paid out in the year I have cited. Still, I thought I would reach out to someone outside of the area for insight. I spoke with a wildlife biologist from a major university in another Midwestern state. My questions were basic: are these managed hunts necessary and do they accomplish anything?
He didn’t wish to get into the wolf hunt specifically because of the politics involved. He said that in his opinion, managed hunts usually occur when public tolerance over certain wildlife issues exceed what is considered acceptable. Hence, the outcry over any predation can drive public tolerance levels. Additionally, those that study these matters (his professional brethren) have probably come to the conclusion that the population of the animal is at a healthy level without need to become any larger.
He went on to say that one of the big problems the wolf faces is that it is at the top of its food chain without any predators to keep their own population in check. They are it. And like us, they have the basic three needs for survival in shelter, food, and procreation. If they are in “hunt” mode and livestock is the most viable target available at the time to satisfy that, wolves are going to act accordingly based on their own survival instinct. In cases of predation, the wolf is simply being a wolf.
So, for my own nickel’s worth, the wolf is sacred to the Native Americans and I say out of respect to them leave them be. Second, relative to livestock and wolf population, I don’t believe the predation numbers are of any unacceptable level. Third, that the state and the DNR eliminated the five-year study/wait period after delisting the wolf from “endangered“ to “threatened” status and moved right to a managed hunt is troubling to me. Lobbyist pressure? Wolf population emergency? You tell me. From my perspective, I have yet to see any demonstrable evidence that the hunt is an absolute necessity. What has really driven this?
IMO, this hunt was rammed down our throats sans the amount of public debate that should have taken place. Zen Buddhism teaches that all living, breathing life brings positive energy to the world. Mother Nature teaches that she will keep it in check and balance… PEACE
THE MFAN NFL
PICKS FOR WEEK 11:
(HOME team in CAPS)
BUFF over Fish
ATLANTA over Cards
BOYS over Brownies
Cheese over LION
Cincy over CHEFS
GOATMEN over J-e-t-s
WASH over Eagle
Bucs over CARO
TEXAN over Jax
Saints over OAK
DENVER over San Diego
Colts over PATS
Bear over SAN FRAN
Balt over STEEL
WEEK 9: 12-2
WEEK 10: 8-4 (INCOMPLETE)
OVERALL: 89-55 OVER & OUT!
Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.