Native American wildlife experts are concerned about the state’s plan to begin a hunting and trapping season for grey wolves.
The federal government took the wolf off the endangered species list in the Western Great Lakes region two months ago, after a long, slow comeback in the wolf population. State lawmakers in Minnesota and Wisconsin quickly introduced wolf hunting bills, and the Wisconsin measure has already passed. Peter David is a biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife commission, or GLIFWC. He says tribes weren’t consulted about the wisconsin bill.
“It’s a disservice certainly to the tribes, it’s a disservice i think to a lot of the other groups that have been working toward wolf restoration in the state,” he says.
David says not only do many wisconsin tribes live close to wolf habitat in northern Wisconsin, but many Ojibwe or Chippewa tribal members regard the wolf as a sacred animal.
“It is the understanding among the Ojibwe that their fate is really intertwined with that of the wolves and as the wolf goes, so will the people.”
If Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs the wolf hunt bill into law, the state Department of Natural Resources will draft administrative rules to cover a hunting and trapping season beginning this fall. Department official Kurt Thiede promises meetings with the GLIFWC agency .
“I know there’s been some concern i think with the legislation that there was a lack of opportunity for tribal consultation, but we have let GLIFWC know we will be reaching out to them through consultation, government to government .”
One key issue of debate may be how many of Wisconsin’s roughly 800 wolves could be killed during the hunting and trapping season.
This article by Chuck Quirmbach first appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio.