Tag Archives: America’s wolves

A Walk in the Woods

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach”

– W.E.B. Dubois

A walk in the woods is therapeutic, doing so with a child adds inspiration. I have been fortunate that my wife and I have enjoyed a lot of time in the woods with our daughter – long before she could walk. Her earliest naps were in the fresh air and included long slumbers in a hiking backpack chair. Whether it is looking for butterflies, snakes, raptors or insects, a simple stroll off the concrete immediately turns into an adventure with real and make-believe characters. 

Being outside with a child has taught me to be more mindful – to focus on the journey not the destination. A one mile out-and-back hike might take more than the short time I had budgeted but leaves us with many hours of opportunity to discuss what we saw and how it behaved. As our daughter has grown, we have become more intentional about exposing her to new environments beyond the local hiking trails. During a recent trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee side), our three year old taught us to look beyond what we saw and ask “why aren’t we seeing more?” 

Photo taken by the author near Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Our trip began on a crisp weekday morning a week before Thanksgiving celebrations here in the U.S. We exited our rented cabin and traveled to the closest Visitor Center.  We hoped to meet a park ranger – who our daughter reveres. Due to COVID, we had to wait a short while to enter the Visitor Center but we were able to gather some hiking maps and checked trail conditions. We were ready to begin our day exploring the park. We did not have anything big planned beyond some short hikes, nature viewing and a picnic lunch.

On our way back to our car we were greeted by a park volunteer and our daughter immediately engaged in conversation.  She explained that we were on the lookout for the park’s wildlife – bears, elk, snakes, birds and wolves. Wolves? Yes, our daughter equates the presence of elk with wolves due to having spent a year living in the Northern Rockies. The volunteer politely explained that wolves no longer lived in the park but that there were plenty of other animals to see, if we were lucky.

I noted an immediate change in our child. She went from exuberant to pensive – even sad. Why were there no wolves in the park? Where did they go? Were they coming back? She did not hesitate to ask these questions to the volunteer who responded that “all of the wolves had been hunted” and there were no longer any wolves inside the park. The question “why?” from a toddler is both an expression of incredulity and an invitation to join in a never ending conversation.  In this case, our daughter could not understand why humans had extirpated wolves from a place that seemed perfect for them to live. 

Hoping to put that sadness behind us we went on a hike. We did not see a bear or a raptor but we did continue our conversation about the wolves. Our daughter asked me again why people had hunted all of the wolves? Why would we make them go away? I tried to explain that man has not always coexisted with nature in a peaceful manner. We often do not understand the balance that nature requires. As we walked and talked the conversation grew, our daughter’s frustration heightened and the question “why?” kept arising. As we turned around to walk back to the trailhead we saw a pickup truck driving on the trail – it was a park ranger. 

…our three year old taught us to look beyond what we saw and ask “why aren’t we seeing more?” 

The ranger stopped and asked how we were doing. My daughter responded, “why are you driving a truck on this trail?” The ranger smiled and answered, “ because I work here.” Seeing an opportunity to learn more about the disappearance of wolves our daughter did not hesitate to ask “ok, then why did you let all of the wolves get hunted?”  The ranger was wide-eyed. Frankly, I would have been too. What was intended to be a genuinely kind interaction with the public turned into an interrogation by a three year old. The ranger politely answered that wolves left many decades ago then gave us another smile and went on her way. My daughter was not satisfied but she understood. She looked at me and said “Papa, I am going to save the wolves, I am going to bring them back.” I asked how she planned to do that. She replied, “I’ll go back to Wyoming and pick up a few and bring them here.” Some may say this is a three year old’s uninformed reintroduction plan though I am sure many said the same when it was suggested that we reintroduce Canadian wolves to the U.S. Northern Rockies.

Our trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park was amazing and to this day our daughter mentions the wolves and the need to save them. She taught me that I cannot simply accept the reality that wolves once lived in a place, but that I need to be an active force to make sure that the wolf is protected, able to thrive, and coexist with us. In essence, my young daughter reminded me that I need to be an ally for the wolf, for in doing so I will be an ally for our environment.  She believes, and I agree, that our world is better with wolves on the landscape.

Children are wise beyond their years and not anchored with the pessimism or cynicism of adults. Through my work with and for the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, I hope to grow into an empathetic voice for wolves. I also hope to engage in meaningful conversations with those that disagree with me or share a different worldview. Most of all, I hope that my daughter sees her father working to protect what we both love. If I want my daughter to be a caretaker of this world, I need to be one now for she will learn more from what I am than what I teach her. 

Sources Consulted: 

National Park Service. “Animals.” Accessed January 08, 2022. https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/animals.htm

National Park Service. “Mammals.” Accessed January 08, 2022. https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/mammals.htm

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Gray Wolf.” Accessed January 08, 2022. https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/4488

Wheeler, Timothy B. “Effort to Return Red Wolves to Great Smoky Mountains Ends in Failure.” Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1998. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-dec-13-mn-53449-story.html?_amp=true

 

 

 

Help Humane Society of the United States in the Fight to Protect Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

Humane Society of the U.S. stopped the trophy of hunt of wild wolves in Wisconsin, Great Lakes Region and in the U.S. numerous times. Please review the following Timeline of Gray Wolf Protection (source)  Donate, take action HSUS is on the front lines protecting Wisconsin’s gray wolf. 
 2014: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issues an order invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 rule delisting wolves in the western Great Lakes region, requiring that sport hunting and trapping of wolves in the region must end immediately.

  

December 2014
: The annual wolf hunt ends early in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with hunters and trappers exceeding state quotas at record pace. In Minnesota, 272 wolves were killed, 22 more than the stated quota, with 84 percent of late season wolves killed in traps. In Wisconsin, 154 wolves were killed, four more than the quota permitted and 80 percent killed in leghold traps.

November 2014
: Voters repeal PA 520 (moving the wolf to the game species list) with a 55 percent “no” vote, and they also repeal PA 21 (giving the NRC the authority to decide which species can be hunted), with a 64 percent “no” vote. Repeal of PA 21 was approved by 69 of 83  a landslide rejection of NRC decision-making power.

September 2014:
Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming are reinstated after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 rule delisting of the species in that state, requiring that sport hunting and trapping of wolves in Wyoming must end immediately.

August 2014
: The Michigan legislature passes the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act” and, not requiring the governor’s signature, the bill immediately becomes law (PA 281).

March 2014
: Keep Michigan Wolves Protected submits signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, marking its second referendum for the November 4 ballot that would protect wolves and restore the right of Michigan voters to weigh in on critical wildlife issues. This referendum specifically would restore voter’s ability to weigh in on not just wolves, but almost any protected animal the NRC may wish to add to the list of game species to be hunted and trapped for sport.

November 2013
: Michigan’s first-ever annual wolf season begins and a total of 22 wolves are killed. A coalition funded by sport-hunting groups announces plans for its own petition drive for a citizen initiated bill called the “Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act,” which is intended to reaffirm the NRC’s ability to designate game species. In a move to make the bill immune from Michigan voter referendum, the bill included a $1 million appropriation earmark.

  


June 2013
: USFWS publishes its proposal to delist the gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species Act throughout the Lower 48 states where wolves are not already delisted.

May 2013
: Michigan Gov. Snyder signs legislation (PA 21) allowing the Natural Resources Commission to designate new game species instead of just the legislature. PA 21 is intended to allow wolf hunting even if PA 520 was suspended or repealed by referendum.

March 2013
: A coalition of groups including The HSUS called “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” submit 253,705 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, marking the coalition’s first petition drive to stop a wolf hunting season through referendum of PA 520. The referendum would allow Michigan voters to decide whether wolves should be hunted in the November 2014 election.

February 2013
: Wildlife protection groups, including The HSUS, file suit against the USFWS over its decision to remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves living in the western Great Lakes region.

  

October 2012
: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signs legislation (PA 520) designating the wolf as a game species and authorizing the Natural Resources Commission to establish a wolf hunting season.

December 2012
: The HSUS and The Fund for Animals file a lawsuit to restore federal protections for Wyoming wolves.

September 2012
: The USFWS removes wolves in Wyoming from federal Endangered Species Act protections.

April 2012 – July 2012
: Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of packs of dogs, night hunting, and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 201 wolves.

July 2011 – August 2012
: Minnesota enacts legislation allowing a wolf hunting and trapping season once wolves are delisted. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules, and sets the quota at 400 wolves.

December 2011
: The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes.

  


April 2011
: Congress delists wolves in Montana and Idaho, and portions of Washington, Oregon, and Utah, marking the first time ever that Congress has removed protections for any species on the Endangered Species List.

August 2010
: In response to litigation brought by The HSUS and others, a federal court ruling reinstates federal protections for wolves in Idaho and Montana and prevents wolf hunts from going forward in those states.

August 2009
: The HSUS and others file suit to block wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana and restore federal Endangered Species act protections to wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains.

July 2009
: The HSUS enters into a court-approved settlement agreement with the USFWS that reinstated federal protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

June 2009
: The HSUS and others file suit in federal court to block the delisting of Great Lakes wolves.

April 2009
: The USFWS issues a final rule delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies, except for those in Wyoming.

September 2008
: In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and other organizations, a federal court overturns the USFWS’ decision to delist wolves in the western Great Lakes, thereby reinstating federal protections for gray wolves in the region.

July 2008
: In response to litigation filed by The HSUS and others, a federal judge issues an injunction restoring northern Rockies gray wolves to the endangered species list pending the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging their delisting.

February 2007
: The USFWS issues final rules delisting the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains.

2005 –
: The USFWS tries to strip wolves of protection by issuing special exemption permits to the state of Wisconsin that authorize state officials to kill dozens of wolves. These permits are thrown out by a federal court in response to a lawsuit by The HSUS.

  

2005
: Two federal courts both rule that the 2003 downlisting was arbitrary and capricious, returning the wolf to endangered status.

2003
: The USFWS issues a final rule downgrading most of the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states from endangered to threatened, making it easier for people to lethally take wolves.

1978
: Gray wolves are listed at the species level under the Endangered Species Act as endangered throughout the coterminous United States and Mexico, except in Minnesota, where gray wolves were listed as threatened.

1974
: Various subspecies of wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

1967
: Wolves are listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.

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All images are from: CAI PRIESTLEY’S WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG