Delisting the gray wolf is the right call

  • Article by: BILL INGEBRIGTSEN
  • Updated: December 12, 2011 - 9:39 PM
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A recent commentary by J. William Gibson, a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach, portrayed quite the vivid picture regarding the recent delisting of the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho from the protection of Endangered Species Act ("The new war on wolves," Dec. 9). 

The author asserted that the wolves were despised by “paramilitary militia advocates” in that region who wanted to fight the federal government for interfering in their warrior ways and found a listening audience which included hunters, ranchers and politicians. 

The writer also said that western cultures’ dogmatic views of wolves is rooted from views based on the Puritans and Catholic Church, which believed the animal that had demonic characteristics.

As chair of the Minnesota Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I feel these assertions are sensational and meant to sway public opinion in Minnesota regarding the proposed delisting of the gray wolf in our state. 

It's necessary to respond to these assertions with scientific facts.

Currently, the Department of the Interior is in the process of delisting the Eastern Timber Wolf in Minnesota from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Great Lakes States (Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin). 

All indications are that it will occur by the end of 2011. 

This process is nothing new for federal and state wildlife biologists who agree and have advocated for the delisting for over a decade in our state. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wolf management plan, a minimum population of 1600 wolves is needed to ensure their long-term survival.

The most recent survey by the DNR in 2007-08 concluded that the state has a healthy population of 2941 wovlves and over the last decade there has been no significant change in their numbers. 

It should be noted that their current population is nearly twice the size required to ensure their survival.

The effort to delist the gray wolf in Minnesota is supported by several conservation and agriculture groups in our state, including the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota State Cattleman’s Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Safari Club, Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association, Sportsmen For Change and the Minnesota Trappers Association.

The gray wolf is a part of Minnesota’s outdoor heritage and environment. Minnesota without the gray wolf would truly be devastating.

However, their numbers are not only healthy but starting to interfere with other members of their habitat and need to be managed properly. It is necessary to devise a conservation management plan grounded in scientific fact to ensure that all aspects of our environment are able to coexist.  

I have never heard from the DNR that we need to use “predator drones” to manage our wolf population should they be delisted. Any true hunter or outdoorsmen in Minnesota would be outraged if this occurred in our state. 

When the wolf is delisted, I promise all Minnesotans that a management plan will be respectful of the animal while also ensuring their coexistence within their habitat.

I believe biologists specializing in conservation should be leading our state as we move towards delisting the gray wolf in Minnesota so we can ensure the long-term management and survival.  

Misguided and sensational opinions from sociology professors from California add for great reading, but offer little substance.

 

* * *

Minnesota state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chairs the Senate Environment Committee.

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