Gazelka: Lawsuit by animal rights groups wasting taxpayer money

An animal rights group filed a petition for review with the Minnesota Court of Appeals Wednesday, in an attempt to stop the state’s upcoming wolf hunting and trapping season.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the agency and the Office of the Attorney General have not been served with or reviewed the petition and have no comment on this legal proceeding.

“The reaction by these activist groups was predictable, but is unfounded and misguided. Minnesota’s wolf population is far and away the largest, strongest in the contiguous United States,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County, the chief author of the bill which introduced a wolf hunting season managed by the Minnesota DNR.

The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the entities that petition for the review along with Howling for Wolves, said on its Web site: “Minnesota’s 2001 wolf-management plan provided that wolves would not be hunted or trapped for five years after any removal of their Endangered Species Act protection, but the state legislature eliminated those safeguards last year by passing a budget bill that included a rider authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to open wolf hunting if the agency first provided an opportunity for public comment.”

The Web site states, “In January 2012, the wolves’ federal protection was stripped away; but instead of opening a formal comment period, the department offered only an online survey. (More than 75 percent of respondents opposed the wolf hunt: Of 7,351 responses, only 1,542 people supported a wolf season.)”

Although recently removed from the federal threatened list, the DNR said Minnesota’s wolf population has been recovered since the 1990s and has been stable for decades.

“At approximately 3,000 animals, Minnesota has 283 percent more wolves than Wisconsin and 336 percent more than Michigan. The reality is, the wolf is on the top of the food chain and as a predator is now in need of management,” said Gazelka.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s Web site quotes Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling for Wolves. She said, “Wolves already die at high rates from many causes, including human intolerance and persecution. Minnesotans benefit economically, culturally and ecologically by having wolves in the wild. As a state, we have so much to gain by keeping wolves undisturbed.”

“The DNR recognizes there is a wide range of opinions toward wolf hunting and trapping, but all Minnesotans should know the DNR’s primary wolf management goal is to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The DNR’s conservative approach to this first season is based on sound conservation science and principals.

The DNR set a quota of 400 wolves for this inaugural season. It developed the wolf hunting and trapping season using data and research collected and developed over decades by top wolf experts and wildlife managers, a DNR press release said.

“It is important to point out that the farmers, ranchers and homeowners who are threatened are still able to shoot wolves that threatening their livestock, pets and children,” said Gazelka. “Nobody wants to see wolves exterminated. In fact, the goal of successful management of wolf numbers is to ensure a continued vibrant, healthy and thriving wolf population in Minnesota.”

“The Legislature, which represents all Minnesotans, had a wide-ranging discussion of the wolf season,” Landwehr said. “It is our job to implement the season in a manner that sustains the population for the long term.”

To learn more about wolf management and read frequently asked questions about the season, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/wolves/mgmt.html.

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