For Immediate Release, September 18, 2012
||Collette L. Adkins Giese, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821
Deb Balzer, Howling for Wolves, (612) 481-1571
Lawsuit Filed Challenging Hunting and Trapping of Minnesota Wolves
State Reneges on Promise of No Hunting for Five Years
MINNEAPOLIS— The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves filed a lawsuit today against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources challenging the agency’s failure to provide a formal opportunity for public comment on recently approved rules establishing wolf hunting and trapping. The conservation groups are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the opening of hunting and trapping seasons this fall.
|Gray wolf photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron. This photo is available for media use.
“The state rushed to issue wolf hunting and trapping rules without giving people a real chance to voice their opinions,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Minneapolis-based attorney with the Center. “Especially considering the tremendous controversy around hunting and trapping of Minnesota’s wolves, state officials should have followed the law carefully to make sure they fully understood how the public felt about their decision.”
Minnesota’s 2001 wolf-management plan provided that wolves would not be hunted or trapped for five years after any removal of their Endangered Species Act protection, but the state legislature eliminated those safeguards last year by passing a budget bill that included a rider authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to open wolf hunting if the agency first provided an opportunity for public comment. In January 2012, the wolves’ federal protection was stripped away; but instead of opening a formal comment period, the department offered only an online survey. (More than 75 percent of respondents opposed the wolf hunt: Of 7,351 responses, only 1,542 people supported a wolf season.)
“Wolves already die at high rates from many causes, including human intolerance and persecution,” said Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling for Wolves. “Minnesotans benefit economically, culturally and ecologically by having wolves in the wild. As a state, we have so much to gain by keeping wolves undisturbed.”
Wolf hunting is scheduled to begin Nov. 3 with the opening of the deer firearms season; the state’s rules provide that 6,000 licenses will be sold to kill 400 wolves. The lawsuit filed today asks the Minnesota Court of Appeals to prevent implementation of wolf hunting and trapping rules until the court can issue its decision in the case.
Livestock producers have pushed for hunting and trapping to reduce the state’s population of approximately 3,000 wolves. But hunting and trapping may actually increase conflicts between wolves and domestic animals by disrupting pack dynamics and creating more lone wolves that are more likely to target livestock out of desperation.
There are tested, nonlethal options to safeguard livestock from wolves, including guard dogs, flagging and fencing. Hunting and trapping is premature until state managers can gauge the impacts of a state management plan that allows the killing of wolves to protect domestic animals.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Howling for Wolves was created to be a voice for wild wolves. It aims to educate the public about Minnesota’s wolf population and let people know how they can take action to keep wild wolves in a self-sustaining existence. For more information: www.howlingforwolves.org.