Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Tag

Anderson: Wolves known to stalk hunter’s kill scene for an easy meal   Leave a comment

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, says a wolf expert.



Wolves are likely to associated hunters’ gunfire with an easy meal.

Some years ago, I hunted in northern British Columbia. A young man was my guide, and during a long first day, we climbed into high, rugged country on horseback, trailing two pack horses.

The area was rife with moose, elk, wolves, and grizzlies. Headquartering in an abandoned trapper’s shack, we hunted all day, saddling the horses before sunup and riding out in the dark. At night we hobbled the horses’ front feet and turned them out to graze, stringing cowbells around their necks so we could find them in the morning, and to keep bears away.

One day we spotted a moose from a distant ridge. We rode a while toward the animal from downwind before tying the horses and hiking. The moose wasn’t a trophy, but was a legal target, bearing the required brow tines. When the big animal showed itself while ambling through tall willows, I braced my .270 against a tree and collapsed him.

Soon the guide and I convened alongside the moose.

“I’ll take care of this,” the young man said, pulling a knife from his pack. “You keep an eye out for wolves. If you see one coming, shoot it.”

We had heard wolves howling, but hadn’t seen any.

I said, “Are we expecting wolves?”

“They heard the shot,” the guide said. “So maybe.”

Wolves likely can readily associate the sound of gunfire with an easy meal in the form of the gut pile that remains after hunters field-dress their quarry, said wolf expert Dave Mech, a senior scientist with the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota.

“There are lots of examples where wolves learn to associate food with people,” Mech said. “They can connect these kinds of things very easily.”

This fall, the International Wolf Center in Ely alerted Minnesota whitetail hunters that they may encounter one or more of the state’s nearly 3,000 wolves “staring” at them in their deer stands.

“While hunters don’t intend to feed wolves by leaving the gut piles behind,” the center said, “that’s exactly what is happening. Obviously, some wolves have figured out that seeing a hunter (cause) may lead to finding a free meal (effect.)”

 Hunters’ use of deer scent might also attract wolves, the center said.

As deer hunting winds down, some wolves in the northern portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin are ending their own special seasons of gut-pile indulging.

In most instances, consumption of these remains by wolves occurred unbeknown to the hunters who killed and field-dressed their animals, then left the woods.

But some deer hunters this fall did encounter wolves up close and personal, including Steve Patterson, 26, of Minneapolis, who arrowed a 208-pound buck in northern Wisconsin on Nov. 11.

Patterson killed the nontypical 10-pointer in late afternoon in an area where wolf sightings are common, with images of the animals showing up frequently on hunters’ trail cameras.

Using headlamps, Patterson and a friend field-dressed the buck in the dark of early evening. As they did, they noticed two sets of what they believed were wolf eyes about 40 yards away. The observers gave no ground while waiting to move in on the remains.

Scott Wudinich of Eveleth had a similar encounter some years ago while hunting near Lake Vermilion in northeast Minnesota. He shot a small buck from his stand, and shortly afterward climbed down and field-dressed the animal, before returning to his stand.

He had ridden to the stand on a four-wheeler, and couldn’t legally operate the machine until after shooting hours. So he bided his time until nightfall.

Soon, “four or five” wolves appeared near Wudinich, running, followed by three more wolves to his left and another three to his right. “I was stunned,” he said in a Star Tribune story of the incident. “I yelled and screamed, but they pretty much ignored me. They paced back and forth. They wanted my deer and the gut pile.”

Wudinich fired his rifle several times in an attempt to scare away the wolves. But they remained about 50 yards from his stand. Uncertain what to do, he called the local conservation officer, who told him to leave the deer — which Wudinich did when he climbed onto his ATV at sunset and sped to his cabin about a mile away.

Later, he returned with a nephew to retrieve the deer. “The gut pile was mostly gone and they (the wolves) bit into the hindquarters and neck and chewed on an ear,” he said.

Because deer provide the bulk of a wolf’s diet, it’s no surprise hunters and wolves will occasionally bump into one another while seeking the same quarry, Mech said. Wolves average between 5 and 10 pounds of food intake a day, and individual wolves can gorge themselves on as much as 22 pounds of deer meat in a single sitting.

While wolves usually present no danger to people, they’re constantly on the move, hunting. And if a wolf doesn’t totally consume an available meal in one sitting, he (or she) might bury the remains.

“I can’t prove it, but I have circumstantial evidence that wolves will dig up food they buried as long as a year before,” Mech said.

Wolves might prefer a fresh gut pile left by deer hunters, but if necessary they’ll eat rotted flesh.

“Some years ago on Isle Royale, I saw a pack of wolves eat a moose in the spring that had died the fall before,” Mech said. “The moose was like jelly. But the wolves ate it.”

In British Columbia, we saw no wolves. Not while my guide field-dressed the moose. Nor while we rode to the trapper’s shack to gather the pack horses, or when we cached the moose’s quarters outside the shack.

But that night, as I lay in bed, I heard wolves howling, plenty of them — thankful, perhaps, for an easy meal

By Dennis Anderson – StarTribune




January 18, 2017

Senators from Midwest and Wyoming introduce bill to strip protections from endangered gray wolves


“This “War on Wolves Act” would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place.”

Marjorie Mulhall
Sr. Legislative Counsel, Earthjustice

Washington, D.C. —Senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming yesterday introduced the “War on Wolves Act,” a companion bill to legislation introduced last week in the House that would strip federal protections from wolves and allow trophy hunting and trapping of the species in four states. If the legislation passes both chambers and gets signed by the president, it would hand the fate of wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming over to states whose management wolf plans two federal courts ruled inadequate to securing the species at legally required population levels in absence of Endangered Species Act protections.

In Wyoming, this would allow the state to resume a hostile management program that allowed for unlimited shoot-on-sight killing of wolves across 85 percent of the state. The legislation would further strip citizens of the right to challenge these lethal programs in court. The appeals process of two federal court decisions that restored federal protections to wolves in those four states are still underway. Decisions on those cases are expected any day.

The following is a statement from Marjorie Mulhall, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice:

“A new congress has resurfaced an old vendetta against imperiled wolves. If this legislation is signed into law, wolves in Wyoming will be subjected to unregulated killing across the vast majority of the state, and even on the borders of Yellowstone National Park numerous legal loopholes will authorize widespread wolf killing. Americans widely hailed the return of wolves to the Northern Rockies two decades ago as a triumph of the Endangered Species Act, but now this ‘War on Wolves Act’ would allow for the same unregulated killing that nearly wiped out the species in the first place. Politicians should not meddle in the science-based listing status of a particular species at any stage, but now is an especially bad time as these cases are still playing out in the courts. We urge those who support the protection of wolves to call their senators and representatives and tell them to vote down this lethal legislation.”



Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney who leads on the Wyoming wolf case, based in Bozeman, Montana: (406) 586-9699 ext. 1924,


Budget Bill Won’t Have Wolf Management Returning To Minnesota   Leave a comment

December 16, 2015

(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal that would have taken gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region and Wyoming off the endangered list did not make it into a massive year-end congressional tax and spending package, an omission that surprised its backers but was welcomed Wednesday by groups that support maintaining federal protections for the predators.

U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, Reid Ribble, R-Wisconsin, and some other lawmakers had hoped to attach a rider to return management of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming to the states, which could have opened the door to a resumption of wolf hunting in those places. The provision would have undone federal court decisions that restored the animals’ protected status in the four states despite repeated efforts by the federal government to remove them from the list.

Peterson said budget negotiators dropped the provision from the final bill, which was unveiled late Tuesday, because the White House had threatened a veto if the bill contained any changes to the Endangered Species Act.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Peterson said. “We thought it wasn’t going to be a problem because the Fish and Wildlife Service was supporting it.”

Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said supporters will have to regroup and decide on their next step. He said a stand-alone bill probably could pass the House but he’s not sure about the Senate. It’s also possible an appeals court could overturn the lower court decisions, he added.

While livestock interests supported removing federal protections for wolves, wildlife groups lobbied against it.

“It certainly was a pleasant surprise,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Backers of the rider were trying to use a tactic that succeeded in 2011 when Congress removed wolves in Idaho, Montana and sections of Utah, Washington and Oregon from the list.

“Cooler heads prevailed in Congress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He said a letter written by Sens. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Barbara Boxer, D-California, and signed by 23 other senators including Gary Peters, D-Michigan, helped make the difference.

The combined wolf population in the western Great Lakes region is estimated at 3,700, including about 2,200 in Minnesota, while Wyoming has around 333.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled last December that the western Great Lakes states didn’t have suitable plans to safeguard wolves, and that the animals haven’t come close to repopulating their former range. Her decision prevented Minnesota and Wisconsin from holding sport wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall. Michigan hasn’t held a hunt since 2013. Another federal judge issued a similar decision in September 2014 in a Wyoming case.

The Obama administration, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming are appealing the two decisions. Minnesota is not formally a party to the Midwest case, but the state attorney general’s office filed an amicus brief Tuesday supporting a reversal.

The brief says Minnesota’s wolf management plan will ensure the animals continue to thrive in the state. It says Minnesota’s wolf population and range have expanded to the point of saturating the habitat in the state since the animals went on the endangered list in 1973, creating “human-wolf conflict that is unique in its cost and prevalence.”

A similar appeal is pending in the Wyoming case. Pacelle said his group, which filed the lawsuit in the Midwest case, will keep up the fight.

“This is not the end of the process, but it’s a good outcome because Congress is showing restraint and not trying to cherry-pick a species and remove it from the list of endangered animals,” Pacelle said.

Source / CBS Minnesota



Reader’s View: Killing one wolf impacts a larger system   Leave a comment

From:  Duluth News Tribune

February 22nd, 2015 by Lisa Herthel-Hendrickson

Much of what’s in the media regarding wolf hunting is propaganda. “Propaganda” is biased with undertones promoting a particular cause. The statement in a Jan. 14 letter that “city people don’t understand wolves” was propaganda at its finest. The assertion was narrow, lacked credibility and failed to consider the larger picture.

I rarely see mentions of the complexities surrounding pack instincts and wolf communities. Killing one wolf impacts a larger system. Are we as a civilized culture defending practices that have devastating repercussions on ecosystems based on the premise humans are a superior life form responsible for population control?

I have lived in rural Minnesota most of my life and now live in Duluth. In 15 years I’ve seen two wolves. Recently, a colleague caught a glimpse of a lone wolf in her yard that frightened off when she approached. Wolves are shy and elusive creatures. Rumors and misinformation abound.

Sport and population-control hunting causes an increase, not a decrease, in livestock and pet predation. Individual wolves, especially pups, depend on their pack (and not just the alpha, contrary to popular belief) to learn hunting and social skills required for survival. Wolves are more likely to prey on easier targets such as domesticated or livestock animals when their packs are compromised.

Under the recent federal ruling, it remains legal for an individual to kill wolves deemed a threat to human life. Even a perceived threat suffices. No one challenges the right of livestock owners to kill wolves posing a threat to their livestock.

I raise the question: What’s the wolf hunt actually about? In northern Minnesota, where anti-wolf sentiment is on the verge of hysteria, I can’t help but believe it’s about human predators perpetuating values that disrespect natural order and fellow species important to intricate ecological systems of life.


Federal court wolf ruling – now what?   Leave a comment

From:  Wadena Pioneer Journal

Jan. 02, 2015 by Erik Osberg

Gray wolves are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

On Dec. 19, a federal judge ruled to reinstate Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in the Upper Midwest, essentially ending the wolf hunt in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said they are “deeply discouraged at the recent ruling. Our position has been and continues to be in support of the Minnesota DNR‘s management of the wolf population based on factual science though hunting and trapping. We will be watching the courts and advocating for a reversal of this decision.”

Conversely, Howling For Wolves Founder and President Dr. Maureen Hackett called the ruling “exciting news for the survival of the gray wolf population, which is a vital part of our ecology. We’re glad the reckless and unnecessary wolf hunt in Minnesota is over this year, and hope smart non-lethal wolf management strategies will be implemented in the future.”

So who’s right? And where do we go from here? I was fortunate enough to be part of a conference call that included some of the world’s top wolf experts. Including: Dr. L. David Mech, senior research scientist, U.S. Department of the Interior, author and vice chair of the International Wolf Center, retired Wisconsin DNR wolf biologist Dick Thiel and Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund and project leader for wolf restoration in Yellowstone National Park.

The panel stopped short of saying whether the ban was a good or bad thing, but each offered what they feared would happen and what they felt should happen. The general consensus was that the gray wolf population in in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is healthy. They cited numbers suggesting the population in these three states is above the levels that were to be achieved in the restoration process. However, Mike Phillips said he believes the court ruled as they did is because when one looks at the entire lower 48 states, the gray wolf only “inhabits 15 percent of it’s historical range,” or to put it another way, “the gray wolf is absent from 85 percent of it’s historical range.” But is it realistic to think the wolf population can be restored to its “historical range?” Dick Thiel pointed out that if we were to try to restore the Bison population to its “historical range” there would be Bison in our wheat fields. It was suggested that the goal for the wolf population management should be that they inhabit a “significant portion of range where habitat is suitable.”

The panel all expressed a concern for an increase in the illegal taking of wolves because of the ruling. They went on to say they believe that is the last thing hunters would want to do.

Perhaps the most unfortunate part in this saga is the fact that the whole situation seems to be a series of bureaucratic semantics and unreasonable logic. And there is plenty of blame to go around. Phillips pointed out that on page 95 of the official ruling the Judge cited a lack of U.S. Fish and Wildlife due diligence. The panel all agreed they hoped for a reasonable coordinated national solution.

Caught in the middle of all of this are people like Matthew Breuer of North Country Guide Service and Promotions. Matt makes his living in the great Northwoods and says he sees the impact of wolves all around him. According to Breuer: “The wolf population in Minnesota is getting borderline out of control. During the late portion of the hunting and trapping season for timberwolves the season ended abruptly due to people doing so well harvesting them. That alone should tell us that the population is beyond the DNR’s target number of wolves in the state. They are a beautiful and majestic creature, but people need to keep the harsh reality in mind… wolves are predators, and they destroy deer and moose populations when not kept in check. Not to mention that they will readily kill a hunting dog if they cross paths. I’ve seen wolves in the wild, I’ve watched them hunt, I’ve come across dozens of wolf kills. People who have only seen wolves on TV or the internet should not seal the fate of those who live amongst them.”

Outdoor Report’s Erik Osberg and Wes Gall contributed to this story.



Blocked wolf hunt draws mixed reaction   Leave a comment

Federal Court: Great Lakes Wolf Hunting Ends Now   Leave a comment

From:  The Humane Society of the United States

Dec. 19, 2014 by Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397;

Sport Hunting and Trapping of Wolves is Over

Sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes region must end immediately, a federal District Court has ruled. The court overturned a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision that removed Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region, which includes Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The Humane Society of the United States and a coalition of wildlife protection groups, including Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, filed suit against the USFWS’s premature December 2011 delisting decision. The decision threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining wolves to a small area in the Great Lakes region—where state politicians and agency officials have rushed forward with reckless killing programs that threaten wolves with the very same practices that pushed them to the brink of extinction in the first place.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said, “In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed more than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations. We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks.”

In its 111-page ruling, the court chided the USFWS for failing to explain why it ignored the potential for further recovery of wolves into areas of its historic range that remain viable habitat for the species.  The court also noted that the USFWS has failed to explain how the “virtually unregulated” killing of wolves by states in the Great Lakes region does not constitute a continued threat to the species.

Following federal delisting, Wisconsin and Minnesota rushed to enact emergency regulations to allow the first public hunting and trapping seasons in the Great Lakes region in more than 40 years. The states authorized some of the most abusive and unsporting practices, including hound hunting, snares, baiting, electronic calls and the use of leg hold traps. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended this year after killing 154 wolves – 80 percent of them in leghold traps. And in Minnesota, 272 gray wolves were killed – 84 percent of the wolves in this year’s late season were trapped.

The Michigan legislature also passed three separate laws to designate wolves as a game species, in its zeal to allow the state to authorize a trophy hunting and trapping season for wolves, and to undermine a fair election by Michigan voters on wolf hunting. However, in response to a referendum campaign launched by The HSUS and other animal welfare and conservation groups and Native American tribes, the 2014 wolf hunt was canceled and voters in Michigan soundly rejected sport hunting of wolves in the recent November election.

Despite rhetoric from state politicians about wolf depredation of livestock, a new study of 25 years of wolf data has shown that hunting wolves may increase livestock losses.  Michigan lawmakers relied on false stories about wolves to push through a hunting season, and had to apologize for misleading statements.

Today’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia follows another ruling by the same court in September that rejected the USFWS’s decision to delist wolves in the State of Wyoming. The HSUS was also a plaintiff in the Wyoming litigation.

The plaintiffs in the Great Lakes lawsuit were represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.


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