Dennis Anderson: Wolf activist strikes up aggressive campaign

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2012 - 6:46 PM

An interview about the planned hunting and trapping season in Minnesota was contentious at times.

hide

Grey wolf

Photo: Jayne Belsky, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Maureen Hackett is a physician specializing in psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. She also served seven years in the Air Force, leaving at the rank of major. Raised in Ohio, she moved to the Twin Cities in 1995. She's in private practice and also sees patients at a metro hospital.

In March she founded the organization Howling for Wolves, whose initial goal -- through billboard, radio and TV ads, and protests like the one at the governor's residence Thursday -- is to stop the wolf hunt and trapping season planned by the Department of Natural Resources beginning in November.

In an interview she explained why she opposes the hunt.

DA  How did you develop an interest in wolves?

MH  All my life I've been interested in wildlife. I learned about wolves on a trip to Yellowstone, and while on a dogsled trip into the boundary waters. I remember when I came here I heard people describe "up north" as a place so wild they had wolves. I thought, "That's cool."

DA  Is Howling for Wolves, which you founded, a membership group? If so, how many members do you have?

MH  We don't have members. We have supporters. Our goal is to become a foundation that provides non-lethal predator control, in which we give people resources to keep wolves away from their livestock: electric fences, dogs and so forth.

DA  Your group, or you, has placed billboards prominently in the Twin Cities, one of which says, "Stop DNR Torture. Now or Never," and shows a photo of a wolf. The other shows a wolf that almost looks like a pet dog, rather than the predator it is. Where did you get the photos?

MH  We bought them. The photo is actually of a caged wolf. We don't have wild wolves that aren't persecuted that we can take photos of. We couldn't find high resolution photos of wolves in the wild, so we used those.

DA  There are lots of wolf photos available showing a pack killing a deer, or taking down a moose. You could have used one of those. It would have been more representative than the warm, cuddly image your photo represents.

MH  You want wolves looking as beautiful as they are. And yes, they are predators.

DA Have you seen a wolf in the wild?

MH  No. And 400 wolves dead after the fall Minnesota hunting season will mean 400 wolves I and others won't ever be able to see.

DA  You or your group has also sponsored radio and TV ads decrying the pending wolf hunt. How much have you spent?

MH  I don't have to reveal that.

DA  You will if the tax-exempt status you seek is approved by the government.

MH   You can see it then. Meantime, we think it's important to invest significantly in this important cause.

DA  What is your primary problem with the scheduled hunt?

MH  The DNR has no baseline data about wolves. So they won't be able to measure the effects of the hunt on the state's wolf population. The last time the DNR conducted an estimate of Minnesota wolves was in 2008. Instead the DNR is using livestock depredation data to estimate the population. In any event, the hunt won't reduce depredation, because hunters who are spread out in the wolf zone will kill randomly. They won't be targeting problem wolves.

DA  Do you agree some people just don't understand hunting or its roles -- if not to help manage another species, then as a social and cultural tradition? Sometimes people who disagree with something come up with facts that suit their opinion.

MH  The DNR is talking about using the hunt for livestock depredation. But it's for sport, and a sport hunt will kill randomly. The law already allows people who are threatened, or whose property or pets or livestock are threatened, to kill wolves. We don't need hunters doing it also.

So far in 2012, for example, federal trappers have killed 169 wolves. Thirty-six wolves have been killed by private trappers. And as many as 27 have been killed by ranchers and other property owners.

DA  Some studies suggest the discussion over hunting wolves or not hunting them is moot, because whatever void is created in the wolf population will be quickly filled by increased reproduction success.

MH  That's where you're wrong. The average pack size in Minnesota is 4.9 wolves. You don't know that by hunting the population randomly, you're not reducing the overall age of a pack, thus requiring the younger female wolves in the pack to have pups, rather than the older and perhaps more dominant females.

You can create problems by doing this, and because the DNR has no baseline data, you wouldn't know it. In fact hunting's effect on the state's wolves might create more livestock depredation, and the DNR's response might be to have more hunting, not less. This is highly endangering our legacy wildlife.

DA  How else do you think wolves might be adversely affected by a hunt?

MH  Under the stress of a hunt, they might come down with diseases. And just like that you could take out a pack.

DA  You're suggesting that wolves don't already lead a "stressful" life, assuming we can overlay them with that human emotion. They're constantly hunting, on the move, looking for their next meal, fighting off mange, avoiding cars.

MH  I'm saying that if you take a wolf out of a pack with a hunter's bullet, because it's done randomly, you might and perhaps will create stress in the other pack members. Fundamentally, here's the problem: We don't have excess wolves to shoot.

DA  Where's your data to support that?

MH  Can you refute me? We're going to be shooting and trapping them right up until February, when they start breeding. What will be the consequence of the hunt on reproduction?

DA  By your definition, deer in the north live "stressful" lives also, constantly on the move to avoid wolves.

MH  Deer are not as fragile as wolves. They're not as dependent on the social structure. Perhaps some deer hunters see fewer deer in a certain area because there are wolves there. But wolves are serving the greater ecosystem by keeping deer moving. By moving deer, wolves allow herbs and trees the deer would otherwise eat, to grow.

Also, wolves contribute to a deer herd's health by taking out the sick, less-productive and less-well animals.

DA  That's not entirely true. Studies show that in many cases, wolves kill for fun.

MH  Wolves in some instances can get into feeding frenzies. But that's unusual.

DA  Call it a feeding frenzy if you will. But wolves sometimes kill opportunistically, in which the dead deer -- which aren't always the weakest -- aren't eaten by the wolves.

MH  Are you afraid of wolves?

DA  No.

MH  Then I think you need an education. I'm saying that if you're afraid, if you feel threatened, or your pets or property are threatened, you can kill them. These are very specific situations, as opposed to randomly killing.

Don't you want wolves around?

DA  Wolves aren't going extinct. That didn't even occur when they were poisoned.

MH  In my profession, I do risk assessments all the time, deciding, for example, whether someone should be confined for the rest of their lives. I was also a military officer and saw bad decisions being made when they could have been stopped or changed if someone had stepped in and said something. That's what I see here.

When it comes to wolves, we need to develop a new social paradigm. It's not about how many the land can tolerate. It's how many wolves people can tolerate.

DA Did anyone in your family hunt as you grew up?

MH I have cousins who hunt.

DA  Are you a meat eater?

MH  I eat some lamb. But not much.

DA  Maybe it's whole notion of a sport hunt offends you.

MH  I think tracking and shooting game is a legitimate sort of pleasure. But I think most people who hunt think they should consume what they eat. They don't do that with wolves. It's the final act, the eating, that creates a certain sort of sacred bond between the hunter and the animal they killed. If a hunter doesn't eat his kill, the activity can become malicious. That's how you denigrate the wolf. He died for someone's pleasure.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Youngstown St 87 FINAL
Detroit 93
East Tenn St 55 FINAL
Furman 59
Saint Louis 60 FINAL
George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
High Point 72 FINAL
Liberty 53
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Long Island 67
Western Ky 56 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
Massachusetts 66
Chattanooga 72 FINAL
Mercer 75
Wofford 58 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 42
Maryland 56 FINAL
Ohio State 80
FIU 56 FINAL
Old Dominion 71
Fair-Dickinson 65 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Mount St Marys 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 73
Bryant 68 FINAL
St Francis-PA 75
Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
Coll of Charleston 70 FINAL
Towson 74
Western Carolina 85 FINAL
Va Military 70
Sacred Heart 64 FINAL
Wagner 75
Lipscomb 62 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 78
Kennesaw St 67 FINAL
North Florida 86
Appalachian St 46 FINAL
Ga Southern 83
Holy Cross 54 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 64
Eastern Ill 51 FINAL
UT Martin 81
Jacksonville St 82 FINAL
Belmont 103
Connecticut 58 FINAL
Cincinnati 70
Rider 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 49
SIU Edwardsville 75 FINAL
SE Missouri St 61
Marshall 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 54
Tenn Tech 56 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Middle Tennessee 58 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
Ill-Chicago 65 FINAL
Milwaukee 71
Weber State 67 FINAL
North Dakota 60
Denver 54 FINAL
North Dakota St 61
IUPU-Ft Wayne 66 FINAL
South Dakota 55
Louisiana 85 FINAL
South Alabama 89
Ark-Little Rock 75 FINAL
Arkansas State 65
Georgia State 88 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 74
ULM 58 FINAL
Troy 55
Portland 46 FINAL
Gonzaga 64
Kentucky 69 FINAL
Missouri 53
Eastern Ky 78 FINAL
Murray State 85
UAB 69 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Idaho State 76 FINAL
Northern Colorado 79
UMKC 57 FINAL
Grand Canyon 78
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Utah Valley U 78
Colorado 98 FINAL
USC 94
Cal Poly 57 FINAL
UC Irvine 67
Hawaii 84 FINAL
CS-Northridge 73
Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
Santa Clara 64 FINAL
San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UCLA 69
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
Montana State 59 FINAL
Sacramento St 75
Long Beach State 91 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 85
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 77 FINAL
Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
ULM 51 FINAL
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
Albany 89 FINAL
Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
Clemson 62 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
IUPUI 62 FINAL
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
UMKC 59
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
BYU 68 FINAL
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close