Poaching still threatens wolves

Recent killings violate the ban on hunting wolves, reminding us the species still needs our protection.

by Keelia Moeller

Minnesota needs to step up and protect its wolves. The federal government currently considers the gray wolf a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. This means the species will likely be endangered in the future.
Except in defense of a human life, hunters cannot kill a gray wolf. The law imposes a fine of up to $25,000 for each violation, in addition to up to six months in prison. But despite these crackdowns, poaching in Minnesota is still an issue. Officials recently found the carcasses of three gray wolves along a Minnesota highway after someone called a tip-line.
Killing one member of a threatened species (let alone three) is a serious crime. But some hunters are fed up with the protection wolves enjoy. They blame the animals for declining deer and moose populations.
This frustration may be why someone killed these three wolves. Evidence from an animal crime lab indicated they were killed elsewhere and then moved to the roadside. 
It’s necessary to exclude people caught in life-and-death situations from the ban on killing wolves. But poaching these animals in a tantrum over deer and moose populations would be absurd and, frankly, childish. 
If the wolves are removed from the endangered species list, the state should enforce hunting laws to prevent the killing of these animals unless they threaten a human life. 
While many believe the wolf population is fully recovered and shouldn’t receive any kind of governmental protection, the animals are considered “threatened” for a reason.
This stability will dissipate in the future if hunters are allowed to open fire on the wolves once more. 
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected].