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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Izaak Walton League
Minnesota Division

 

Wolves in Minnesota: A Report on the

Wolf Management Roundtable

Mike Furtman
September 1998

 

Special note:

The report below outlines the management plan as agreed upon by the members of the wolf roundtable in august of 1998. Subsequently, the Minnesota Cattlemen's Association broke their pledge to uphold the agreement. This threw the whole plan into a tailspin.  Two years later, the Minnesota Legislature adopted a plan somewhat similar to, but significantly different in some points, from the roundtable's plan.

October, 1998:

Mike Furtman, President of the McCabe Duluth Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, represented the Minnesota Division in the recently completed Wolf Roundtable sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Mike has submitted the following report.

At it’s last meeting on August 28, 1998, the Wolf Roundtable sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reached consensus on several key points for the management of the wolf in Minnesota. It is, in my opinion, a good plan, and the final consensus reflects almost exactly the League’s policy as ratified last January.

The consensus items are being incorporated into the complete DNR plan, which will then be forwarded to the Minnesota Legislature for ratification. The plan must be in place before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can complete the removal of the wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act’s Easter Timber Wolf Recovery Plan. This entire process will take a year or more to complete. The wolf is being de-listed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan because their recovery has satisfied the goals and objectives of the Recovery Plan.

It is a remarkable conservation success story. I fully expect that the Minnesota DNR will do an admirable job of managing the wolf.

The consensus items are summarized as follows. The complete consensus package contains considerably more detail.

 

Wolf Population Management

Wolves can expand statewide in Minnesota. Population management, including public taking, will be considered in the future, but not before the 5-year, post-delisting monitoring is completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Roundtable recommends a minimum population of 1600 wolves (federal guidelines are 1250-1400).

 

Wolf Population Monitoring

The Roundtable accepts the current methodologies that the Minnesota DNR uses to indicate wolf population abundance and distribution (we also offered a few suggestions on how to modify it).

 

Wolf Depredation Management

  • Issue 1 —Compensation for Wolf Depredation. Compensation for lost livestock should continue, and is extended to guard animals and pet dogs (dogs must be under supervised control to qualify); veterinary costs to wolf-injured domestic animals will now be eligible for compensation.
  • Issue 2 —Eligibility for Compensation and Lethal Control. We formulated a detailed list of standardized investigative measures needed to verify wolf depredation. Physical remains of the wolf-killed animal are necessary to implement lethal control (i.e., trapping out and killing the offending wolves).
  • Issue 3 —Best Management Practices. The Roundtable Supports legislative efforts to encourage the use of Best Management Practices to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts. $500,000 should be appropriated, on a matching basis with any non-public funding source, to research non-lethal means of wolf control to abate depredation on livestock. The Roundtable suggests that farms with chronic wolf problems be used as research sites.
  • Issue 4 —Preventative Measures. If a wolf poses an "immediate threat" to humans, livestock, guard animals, or dogs (under supervised control), the wolf may be killed by firearms only (immediate threat is defined as a wolf observed in the act of pursuing or attacking; the mere presence of a wolf or a wolf feeding on an already dead animal does not constitute an immediate threat). A farmer or dog owner may first "harass" a wolf within 500 yards of people, buildings, dogs, or livestock in a non-injurious manner (wolves may not be purposefully attracted, tracked, searched-out or chased in order to harass). A detailed list of reporting requirements (i.e., report within 24 hours, evidence requirements, etc.) is outlined in the full report. Failure to comply with the rules and reporting requirements, including failure to implement BMPs, will result in the loss of farmer or dog owner’s eligibility for future wolf damage compensation for a period of one year.
  • Issue 5 —Removal of Verified Depredating Wolves. The DNR will assume administrative responsibility for the depredation trapping program, but may contract with the current trappers (USDA Division of Wildlife Services), or contract with certified private trappers. Investigation and recommendation for wolf removal will be conducted by a certified state agent using strict criteria to determine if indeed it was a wolf that caused the damage (criteria outlined in full report). Salvageable wolf pelts will be the property of the State and distributed for educational purposes only.
  • Issue Six —Compensation. The Roundtable recommends compensation nearer to fair market value than the current $750 cap; Compensation be extended to the loss of livestock guarding animals; Dogs (under supervised control of owner) not qualifying as guard animals can be compensated at fair market value not to exceed $500.

 

Habitat Management

DNR will identify currently occupied and potential wolf habitat areas with the objective of managing habitat to benefit wolves and their prey on public lands, and in cooperation with private, corporate and tribal landowners.

 

Enforcement

Illegal taking of wolves should be consistent with present statutes on the illegal taking of game. Fines should reflect the unique nature of the wolf. The Roundtable recommends a $2000 restitution value for the wolf. Due to increased workload of Conservation Officers, the Roundtable recommends the need to substantially increase their numbers and the financial resources made available to them.

 

Education

The management plan should included an education component (we then specified what that should include).

 

Eco-Tourism

The Roundtable recommends that the DNR address eco-tourism in its plan.

 

Wolf-dog Hybrids/Captive Wolves

The release of wolf hybrids and captive wolves should be banned. The legislature should consider appropriate regulatory measures, based on public safety concerns.

 

Management Plan Monitoring

The DNR will convene a group, including the Roundtable participants, on an annual basis to review and comment on management plan implementation.

 

Funding for Implementation

State funding for implementing the management plan should come from sources other than the game and fish fund.


Mike Furtman
McCabe Chapter President
IWLA delegate to the Roundtable

IWLA, Minnesota Division: < http://www.mtn.org/~mn-ikes/chapters.htm >.
The Izaak Walton League of America, Minnesota Division.
Email: <mn-ikes@mtn.org>.

______
Courtesy of The Izaak Walton League of America, Minnesota Division.

 

 

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