Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Timber Wolves in Minnesota: Final Part 5

I enjoy learning more about trapping and hunting, and one new experience I really enjoy is using a call, and attempting to shoot predators, such as coyotes, during the hunting and trapping season in Minnesota.  I have spent some time in my predator blind and tree stand using an electronic call, but I have never successfully harvested any predators using this method.

Concerning predator hunting in Minnesota this year, I bought a .17 HMR, and plan to do some coyote calling this year.   If I saw a gray wolf, I would take its picture but not a shot. It would be illegal to shoot at a gray wolf without a permit, and  I don’t know why, but I have more respect for wolves than coyotes. I would explain my reasoning for this is due to a lecture at AWLS involving the discussion of gray wolves as an example of a keystone species.   I assume wolves want to harvest coyotes, just like I do, and to help explain my reasoning concerning the difference between harvesting a coyote, but not a gray wolf, I looked to to Aldo Leopold for more insight concerning predator hunting:  “I personally believed, at least in 1914 when predator control began, that there could not be too much horned game, and that the extirpation of predators was a reasonable price to pay for better big game hunting”(Leopold 916). 
This quote may be out of context, but I thought it was interesting due to the fact that my thinking about deer hunting, and gray wolves, and just my overall perspective concerning conservation, changed after my time at AWLS this summer. I learned more about the interconnections concerning predators, such as the gray wolf, and its prey.  For the gray wolf, prey could be deer, or coyotes, and I never entertained this thought before, as I didn’t think wolves would eat a coyote. The fact that gray wolves will eat coyotes may seem like common knowledge, but it is a very important point concerning the overall conservation of animals in Minnesota. Conservation is something I am very passionate about, and the more I learn about the topic, the more I would like to know.  Aldo Leopold’s writings are something I plan to revisit in the near future, and a big part of my reason for this decision is based on wanting to compose more posts on conservation topics.   I found another quote by Aldo Leopold  from his book, Thinking Like a Mountain, in which he writes, In those days we had never heard of passing up the chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy. When our rifles were empty the old wolf was down and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide rocks.” (Leopold 130).  This quote made me think back to the time in 2004, when I carelessly hip shot into the ground to try and scare the two blue eyes looking back at me.   I shot out of fear, which is something I should be embarrassed to admit, despite the fact that it is the truth.
   A fellow trapper, and one of  my trapping mentors, obtained a permit through the lottery, and was able to harvest a gray wolf during the 2013 season by working with a local farmer, and utilizing a cow carcass, to make a cubby set. After a few misses, he was able to connect and harvest a wolf using a snare.  He used rubber gloves and kneeling pads.  I am very happy about my friend’s accomplishment, but I am also very aware of the number of years, which is over thirty, he has been trapping.  He is very successful at harvesting animals during trapping season.  I spend quite a bit a time trapping, but I am still just trying to learn more about this process, and I won’t be applying to trap or hunt wolves in Minnesota anytime soon. (I wrote this before hunting and trapping wolves was banned in Dec. 2014).
As an avid, but self taught trapper, I have a hard enough time outsmarting muskrats, one of the easiest furbearers to trap, much less the gray wolf, an intelligent predator that allowed me to see it one day in 2004, when the wolf and I were both searching the woods for deer, or maybe the wolf was looking for a coyote.   I guess we will never know for sure, but I hope the gray wolves remain in Minnesota, for my children to someday observe, but also to maintain deer numbers, and maybe the wolves will help limit some of our coyote population, as my trapping skills aren’t getting the job done when it comes to controlling predators in Minnesota. I enjoyed composing this series of posts on wolves; I now have a very different perspective on conservation, and have learned more about the gray wolf, and the fluctuation of its population size, in Minnesota.

Sources for posts on Minnesota Timber Wolves

Erb, John, Carolin Humpal, and Barry Sampson. "MINNESOTA WOLF POPULATION UPDATE   
Erb, John, John Erb. “2012 Minnesota Wolf Season Report.”
"Explore Minnesota's Biomes and Discover Our State's Four Ecosystems." Minnesota   
        Department of Natural Resources. 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.    
"Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes States." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1 Jan. 2014.
       14 Sept. 2014. <>.  Web.
Leopold, Aldo. "Review of the Wolves of North America." Journal of Forestry 42.12 (1944):  
Leopold, Aldo. "Thinking like a mountain." A Sand County Almanac 138 (1949).Print.
"Teen Survives Wolf Attack in North Central Minnesota." Bemidji Pioneer 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 18
       Sept. 2014.
"Wolf Management." Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 1 Jan. 2014. 14 Sept. 2014.