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February 22, 2013

Wolves on the Brink

Earlier this month, filmmakers and photographers Jim and Jamie Dutcher released a deeply compelling book, The Hidden Life of Wolves, about these remarkable but beleaguered American predators. The Dutchers are drawing standing room only and slack-jawed crowds wherever they’ve appeared, sharing their stunning images and educating people about the lives of these creatures.

And the release of the book is not a moment too soon. States in the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes didn’t waste any time after federal delisting, authorizing trophy hunters and trappers to start killing hundreds of wolves – extinguishing the lives of the wolves and causing upheaval in the pack’s social organization.

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Alamy

The HSUS has been punching back to protect the wolves. These wolves are not just populations; they are individuals. They feel pain and suffer, just like the dogs in our homes.

We’ve filed legal actions in Wyoming and the Great Lakes and, along with our coalition partners, launched a ballot measure campaign in Michigan in concert with American Indian tribes, hunters, environmentalists, and local humane organizations. I am also pleased to report that we are supporting a bill in Minnesota to impose a five-year moratorium on the sport hunting of wolves.

It would be a tough fight in Minnesota, but the senate president and minority leaders are cosponsors of the bill. It already has support from lawmakers from both parties, and from urban and rural areas of the state.

Great Lakes states have long traditions of hunting, but that’s hunting for meat. This is nothing of the sort; people don’t eat wolves. What’s more, if the general rationale for hunting is “wildlife management,” that’s not in play here. Wolves are the best wildlife managers there are, helping to control the size and behavior of prey populations and limiting the impacts of roadkill and crop depredation. And if there is an individual wolf causing a threat to farm animals or public safety, the law allows for selective taking.

But it’s not enough to introduce a bill or launch a ballot measure. We’ve got to push these policies forward, and with wolf haters out there, we need to demonstrate an outpouring of public support. We need Minnesotans to write and meet with their legislators, and Michiganders to take to the street and start gathering signatures. We’ve got deadlines coming up, and, for wolves, these are life-and-death matters. We can help the wolves, but only if you join the effort.

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