To the Journal editor:
I spent the past summer in the remote woods and mountains of Washington State, hiking nearly 1,000 miles on the Pacific Northwest Trail over the course of 50 days. Wildlife was abundant and diverse.
Rattlesnakes, bears, moose, and bald eagles added to the pristine, majestic landscape of the northwest. However, one dominant species was missing from my list, the wolf.
Here in the Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we are blessed to have this apex predator lurk through our diverse forests. After spending four decades of Michigan tax payer's money in efforts to revive the dwindling Gray Wolf population, the state successfully brought the population back off the federal Endangered Species List in 2011. Last year, a wolf hunt was proposed in Michigan.
Earthkeepers II Student Team felt this was a premature and environmentally unsound action. Our student team held a series of events to gather signatures protesting the hunt and to raise awareness on the issue.
The Earthkeeper covenant encourages a partnership between faith communities and Native American tribes to address issues of environmental concern. We felt it was our duty to help the native people voice their opinion on the issue and also share our environmental concerns of the wolf hunt.
We worked with the Native American Students Association at Northern in attempts to stress the importance of wolves in Native American culture. In Native American creation stories, the wolf was created alongside man, as a companion and a sacred animal.
Through working with various organizations and community members, we contributed to the 225,000 signatures that were gathered in favor of making the hunt an issue to be voted on by the residents of Michigan. However the petitions were overruled and the hunt became in effect on Nov. 15.
A total of 1,200 licenses were sold, mainly to residents living downstate, for 43 gray wolves to be hunted in the U.P. Unlike other game that will be harvested this hunting season, the wolf will be hunted as a trophy species, not for meat.
Wolves hold a special place in the hearts of Native Americans as well as those who enjoy a walk in the woods. Wolf encounters are seen by native people as symbolic of the regaining strength of the land.
Perhaps this too is symbolic; as wolf encounters will become an even more infrequent occurrence, signifying the weakening of the land.