Area Ojibwe tribes resist wolf hunts

Wolf pack

Once again, science, religion and politics have become entwined in a thorny public policy debate. This time it’s about wolves.

Specifically, a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature to authorize a hunting season on wolves. The State Senate has approved it, and the Assembly is set to consider the bill today.  A similar hunting bill is currently being considered by Minnesota legislators.

Though supported by hunters and politicians on both sides of the aisle, wildlife biologists have a number of criticisms and suggestions about the bill involving how, when and how many wolves should be killed.

However, The New York Times reports the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Game Commission, which represents 11 tribes of the Ojibwe in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, opposes the hunt on the basis of religious principle and tradition.

In written testimony presented to both legislative houses, James Zorn, the executive administrator of the commission, said, “In the Anishinaabe creation story we are taught that (wolf) is a brother to Original man. The health and survival of the Anishinaabe people is tied to that of (wolf).” For that reason the tribes are opposed to a public hunt.

Court settlements on treaty rights mean that the tribes must be consulted about decisions like the wolf hunt. The Indian Fish and Game Commission says they were not.

Joe Rose Sr., a professor emeritus of Native American studies at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., and an elder of the Bad River Band, put it this way: “We see the wolf as a predictor of our future. And what happens to wolf happens to Anishinaabe. Whether other people see it or not, the same will happen to them.”