HOWL Colorado

Minnesota hunters kill 147 wolves and 151,400 deer

According to a report released by the Minnesota DNR, hunters in the state killed 1,000 times the number of deer as wolves. Wolves kill the equivalent (in biomass) to an estimated 15-19 deer each, per year. This means the 147 wolves killed by Minnesota hunters would have accounted for the consumption of between 2,200 and 2,800 deer.

This means that the human hunters are ahead in that particular race by around about 148,000 deer.

One justification for killing wolves is to protect the populations of wild ungulates. However, as can be seen from basic numbers, this justification seems a little — tenuous?

Another justification is to reduce the chances of problematic conflicts between wolves and livestock. There are many organizations which clearly demonstrate there are many non-lethal ways to protect livestock and deter wolf incursions.

And finally, the most misleading justification of all. Human safety. Wolf attacks are incredibly rare, even in areas with decent wolf populations – indeed people are rarely the target as it is often dogs which are the primary target of a wolf attack.

Fatal wolf attacks are almost unheard of. There has been one documented attack in North America which has led to a fatality and has strong evidence to support the claim that wolves are responsible. A second attack had wolf experts testifying for both sides in a court room. These records go back over 100 years.

Foreign wolf attacks are unusual also, and even when they are reported, especially in Russia, the attacks come off as implausible as a wolf fights off and kills farmers armed with farming implements.

So just why do states feel the need to drive down wolf populations down? Their justifications fall flat. The Swedish claim it essential that populations be forcibly driven down because humans are not ready to deal with the regular possibility of wolf interaction. While this is a bit of a weak reason, it is at least an honest recognition that nothing other than public perception is the true driving force behind these decisions.

Science says that wolf populations have a critical mass which is necessary in order to ensure genetic diversity and the continuation of a healthy population. What this number is has become somewhat of a moving target and scientists working with wolves are unwilling to again put a number out there.

Isle Royale is a self-contained living experiment demonstrating  what happens when a small population is cut off from the outside world. It’s highly likely that without outside interference, the Isle Royale wolves are soon to fade away.

In the early 1990s, the number “30 breeding pairs” was introduced in to the wolf discussion and has since  become the rallying cry of the wolf opposition. This is the basis of the 150 wolves per state number you hear so commonly used by Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Ed Bangs, who headed up the wolf reintroduction program, said numerous times that the number was an oversimplification and was latched on to as a definitive number. Science progressed, but the states did not.

We need to continue to shine a light on the actual facts and show how they fail to support the decisions being made by the states and the Federal government.

At the very least, the truth should be admitted – much like Sweden did – and that is that rancher/hunter controlled America isn’t ready to accept any idea of coexistence. At least with that truth admitted, we can finally start fighting on the same battle field instead of pretending that facts mean a damn in the wolf debate.

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