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Letter: …we must advocate to our federal delegation to delist the gray wolf

Letter to the Editor:

Deer hunting season is the best time of year here in northern Minnesota. Families get together at their hunting shacks, parents pass down their traditions to their kids, and new connections are formed throughout town when folks bump into each other to talk about the hunt. I cherish these traditions with my family every year.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing another year of decreasing registration. In fact, the DNR reports that we saw another 17% reduction in northern Minnesota in 2023 after an already low 2022 season. The truth is these declines are happening for a reason and it is because there are fewer and fewer deer to harvest due to the out-of-control gray wolf population. Not only that, but the wolves are wreaking havoc on our communities by attacking family dogs and livestock. You need not look far to hear yet again about another recent wolf attack.

In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that gray wolves no longer met the definition of an endangered or threatened species. Given that decision, I introduced a bill in 2022 to allow a regulated, managed wolf hunt in Minnesota. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, a federal judge from California reversed the 2019 federal action, putting wolves back on the endangered species list and providing for a nearly blanket moratorium on hunting across the country. No federal judge from another state has any business making a decision like this impacting our way of life.

Given this artificial ban on hunting wolves from an out-of-touch federal judge, our local wildlife managers, communities, and hunters can only throw up their hands when predators like these grow beyond their natural numbers. Anyone can plainly see that the gray wolf is far from endangered and is instead thriving far beyond their means.

Many of you may be asking, given the federal ban on hunting gray wolves, what can we do as a community to tackle this issue?

First, we must advocate to our federal delegation to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. Luckily for us, this is a bipartisan issue with both our local Republican U.S. Congressman, Pete Stauber, and our neighboring Democratic U.S. Senator, Tammy Baldwin, having bills in Congress to do just that. We must have our voices heard at the federal level, which is why I will do my part as a State Representative to reach out to our federal delegation to continue to push them on this issue, and I hope you will join me because our voices are stronger as one.

Second, we should continue to push for a managed hunt here in Minnesota if and when the gray wolf is delisted at the federal level. I will continue to fight for this legislation and push back against a wolf hunting ban at the state level.

Lastly, we need to think proactively beyond just the gray wolf on how we can better foster the whitetail deer population in our region. I will advocate to the DNR to create a taskforce that truly represents hunters, wildlife managers, and other stakeholders who live in our communities in northern Minnesota and are being impacted to evaluate and come up with recommendations on supporting a thriving deer population in our region.

In northern Minnesota we cherish our outdoor heritage, and we must do everything we can to protect it because it is who we are. Join me in this effort because if we don’t, our traditions could vanish before our eyes.

Rep. Dave Lislegard

Aurora, MN

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