Friday, April 10, 2015

The Timber Wolf in Minnesota: Part 3

I aimed my rifle in the general direction of those eyes, but didn't pull the trigger until I was aiming almost straight down into the ground. I never saw it leave after I shot, but my dad watched the large gray wolf as it left the woods, running at a very fast clip.
My dad watch the wolf in his rifle’s scope, and followed it, but never pulled the trigger. This was the first time my father had seen a full size gray wolf so close. When I shot, the wolf took off, and exited the woods. The only reason I shot was because of fear. It was one of the few times during deer hunting in Minnesota, that I felt like I wasn’t at the top of the food chain. I have a great deal of respect for gray wolves, but I also know they are a meat eating, top of the food chain, predator, and I wouldn’t stand a chance against a hungry gray wolf without my rifle.

Do they attack humans?

 I had to add this clip from a local newspaper article from a nearby town in Minnesota, where a wolf attack on a teenager occurred.

This information is from the Bemidji Pioneer, and the incident took place in 2013:

“BEMIDJI, Minn. – It’s being called the first confirmed attack of a person by a gray wolf in Minnesota history, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Now, a 16-year-old Solway boy is home recovering from a vicious bite wound to the head". 
This is one rare example of a gray wolf attack, but I included it because it was stated as being the first attack of this kind in Minnesota.

I am proud to live in the state of Minnesota, which has the highest population of gray wolves in the lower 48 states. The growth and development of the human race has made gray wolves a species which many Americans only get a chance to see on Discovery Channel shows or in a cage at their local zoo. 

I began to research Aldo Leopold thoughts on wolves, and found a rather dated, but pertinent, quote by Aldo Leopold: 
“We Americans, in most states at least, have not yet experienced a bear-less, eagle-less, cat- less, wolf-less woods. Germany strove for maximum yields of both timber and game and got neither."

This quote is a reminder of what can be learned from the mistakes of the past. Germany tried to get greedy with timber and game and inadvertently eradicated both of them.

I have never visited Germany, but it sounds like when the country tried to get greedy with production of their natural resources, the result was the whole ecological system shutdown. I think a great deal can be learned from the mistakes of the past, especially in the case of Germany.

I have hunted the same farmland since I was ten, and I am presently getting ready to hunt this year with my father. 80 acres of the land was put into CRP and set aside twenty years ago, and it is on this piece of property, the same property where I witnessed the wolf in 2004, that my father has led by example, in terms of conservation. 
He and I planted trees on the old sandy farmland, which is now covered in prairie grasses. These prairie grasses haven't been turned over in twenty years, and are now beginning to resemble the sod found during the time when the Sioux roamed this same land. Badger are common, and my trapping career started here with pocket gophers. I am allowed to plant up to 5 acres in food plots, but I only do a small plot each year, and usually harvest a doe, or yearling buck, on the land.  My father rarely takes a shot anymore, but he still flies up from Arizona to hunt each year, and it is a tradition I appreciate, even if it is just him and I hunting, as we are the only hunters left in our family. I feel very proud when I can take my kids out to the land, and they know how much I love this place. 
For me, being on this land is cathartic, a viewpoint share by Leopold, in the following quote:
 “On this sand farm in Wisconsin, first worn out and then abandoned by our bigger and better society, we try to rebuild, with shovel and axe, what we are losing elsewhere. It is here that we seek—and still find—our meat from God."

(Check back for Part 4)