In this short post, I am going begin to explore my personal history with the gray wolf (Canis Lupus). I had the chance to see a gray wolf in close proximity one day when I was deer hunting in Minnesota in November of 2004. In future posts, I will also briefly discuss my thoughts on the implementation of a hunting and trapping season on this species in Minnesota, and the changes in gray wolf population in Minnesota from 2004 to 2014, by referring to studies conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As a trapper, and hunter, I have chosen not to register for the lottery to hunt and trap the wolves in Minnesota. This isn’t due to an ethical decision; I am simply not skilled enough in trapping to even consider trying to harvest a wolf, and will continue to harvest muskrat, and other animals easier to obtain for novice trappers. At the time of this posting, the law has changed concerning hunting and trapping wolves in Minnesota.
I am very interested in gray wolves, and the information I learned at AWLS (American Wilderness Leadership School) during the summer of 2014, along with my personal interest in predators, are two key reasons why I chose to learn more about the gray wolf, and its conservation, in Minnesota. One of the other reasons I chose this topic, is due to the fact that I like learning more about keystone species, and predators, and I had some questions concerning our wolf population, due to my first and only encounter with a wolf while deer hunting in November 2004.
My interest in gray wolves, and their numbers in Minnesota, is due in part to my agricultural background. I grew up on a small farm in northwestern Minnesota, in a unique area, ecologically speaking. The farmland was at the confluence of three biomes; praire, oak savannah, and northern pine forest. It was also an area that had changed a great deal in terms of wildlife. Growing up in the area, I remember seeing moose quite frequently on my grandpa's farm. They have now seemingly vanished from northwestern Minnesota. I saw my first gray wolf, also known in Minnesota as a timber wolf, hunting this same farmland. My grandfather’s neighbor, an elderly cattle farmer was not a fan of wolves. As a lifelong rancher, the reasons were mainly economic. He would lose calves to wolves and coyotes, and when I told him I had seen one, he asked me why I didn’t shoot it.
Check out this update on the status of wolves in Minnesota via the MN DNR
(Check back for the next section of this story tomorrow and in the next few weeks.)