This is an excerpt from the 1/20/2015 informational hearing on the current status of MN Wolf Management. It was intended to focus on the question of what was changed by the recent federal court decision to restore federal protections to the Gray Wolf in the Western Great Lakes DPS under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The hearing was held by the Minnesota House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee on 1/20/2015. The full-length video of that meeting is available at http://youtu.be/PiUKNo24OpY
The committee heard testimony and asked questions of staff from the MN DNR, MN Dept. of Agriculture, USGS, MN Farmers Union, and MN Farm Bureau.
In this excerpt, the same question is asked twice, less than an hour apart, and it gets two very different answers. Apparently, the confusion is over the current arrangement (since 2012) in which the State of MN, through the MN DNR, contracts with a Federal agency, USDA Wildlife Services, to carry out part of the MN Predator Control Program. Apparently, Rep. Hackbarth and Dr. Mech forgot that the question had already been asked and answered. The question was "how is the program funded?" The answer from the MN DNR was that it's entirely funded by the State of MN. Yet, Rep. Hackbarth asked it again--without reference to the previous answer. Dr. Mech then answered it again--without reference to the previous answer. Neither the Committee Chairman nor the expert testifier made any effort to clarify the confusion; perhaps they weren't aware of it? Perhaps Dr. Mech's answer was, characteristically, directed to some small part of the question, and in the process ignored the main question? Perhaps Rep. Hackbarth didn't notice the difference?
The Committee Chairman and Members spent most of the hearing refreshing their memories of the history of wolf management in Minnesota. They asked the expert testifiers to recount their strangest stories of wolf depredation, and they shared their strangest stories. They heard in detail about the shortcomings of Dr. Mech's knowledge on the molecular genetics of "coy-wolves," on non-lethal depredation control, and on the state of research on the MN moose population decline. They pointed to their districts on the map of wolf territory and bragged about how "gray" their areas were. But they never resolved these two pieces of conflicting information. Furthermore, they never invited testimony from the wolf advocates who were present and ready to testify, nor from anyone else who could address the subject.