“The wolf is part of our creation story, and therefore many Ojibwe have a strong spiritual connection to the wolf,” Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, wrote in a letter to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this spring, according to the Star Tribune. “Many Ojibwe believe the fate of the wolf is closely tied to the fate of all the Ojibwe. For these reasons the Fond du Lac Band feels the hunting and trapping of wolves is inappropriate.”
On December 21, 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that gray wolf populations in the Great Lakes region had recovered and no longer required the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a final rule in the Federal Register removing wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in portions of adjoining states, from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. The rule removing ESA protection for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes became effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Ed Boggess, DNR fish and wildlife division director, told the Star Tribune the agency has tried to be inclusive and has had discussions with bands about its wolf management plans. He said that the delisting returned whatever authority the bands and state originally had but that it didn’t convey new co-management authority to the bands. He also spoke to the issue of tribal cultural concerns.
“We recognize and respect those cultural views, but when it comes to managing wildlife, under these treaties and rights that were conveyed, all we can deal with are issues of conservation, public safety and public health,” Boggess told the Star Tribune. “Cultural issues are for each culture to address as they see fit.”
That doesn’t sit well in Indian country. “There is considerable concern about taking wolves for sport,” Mortensen wrote to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Many tribal members feel that wolves are their brothers and they should be respected as such.”