Last year, Minnesota decided to resume the hunting and trapping of wolves. The decision came shortly after wolves were removed from the endangered species list earlier that year.
The swift decision seemed justified on the basis of a study done in 2007 by the Department of Natural Resources, showing that the wolf population was stable.
Still, some lawmakers are working to place a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting, citing how soon the first season came after the animal was taken off the endangered list. The Pioneer Press reported earlier this month that a Minnesota Senate panel voted for a five-year moratorium on future wolf seasons, and the bill will now head for the Senate Environment Budget Committee.
The opposition to wolf hunting in the state is not limited to protecting the current wolf population. Some oppose the existence of wolf hunting as a lawful sport in general. Howard Goldman, the Minnesota director of the Humane Society of the United States, said that “there’s only one reason for a wolf hunt. And that’s sport, trophy recreational killing.” The Star Tribune reported that American Indians in the state oppose hunting and trapping wolves for cultural and spiritual reasons.
The concerns about wolf hunting as a hobby are legitimate. However, they should not be used to justify the pending five-year moratorium as such a ban should only be passed on the account of environmental reasons.
Another study about the current state of wolves in Minnesota is currently underway. When the results of the study are released and the impact of last year’s wolf season is assessed, lawmakers on both sides of the issue should decide whether the population is stable enough to afford future seasons. A debate about a possible full-fledged ban on the sport can then be held.