Saturday, August 25, 2012


The turnout of wolf protectors at the state Capitol in Minnesota yesterday was awesome!  We rallied to stop the hunt/trap this fall for over 3 hours.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many like minded individuals and know that we were all there for a greater good which is to protect Minnesota's gray wolf population and put a stop to the hunting and trapping that will happen this November.  To top it off the rally went on during the special session being held by the legislature so they had to see all of us with our banners & signs protesting the hunt/trap as they walked into the Capitol buidling.  One legislator shouted out "I voted against it" which made us all feel good but unfortunately those who voted for it outnumbered those who voted against it.

Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder of Howling for Wolves, put together a great list of guest speakers which included Howard Goldman from the Humane Society, Ray Owen (Dakota) from Prairie Island Reservation, Mike Forcia from AIM (American Indian Movement) representing the Ojibwe tribe, and veterinarian & ecologist Dr. Michael Fox.  I videotaped their speeches in three parts (I had to cut it into three parts because I was afraid my camera didn't have enough memory but I promise I didn't leave any of the important parts out).   Please watch the videos!  They are informative and enlightening.  Photos from the rally are below the videos.  Please read the press release about the rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Maureen Hackett's opening speech:

Guest Speaker Howard Goldman from the Humane Society

Guest Speakers Michael Forshaw (Ojibwe), Ray Owen (Dakota), Dr. Michael Fox (veterinarian & ecologist)

A group of HFW volunteers having a friendly conversation with capitol security while looking at some photographs.

Various individuals against the wolf hunt.  Several Native American (American Indian) tribes were represented.

A gathering of "wolf protectors" < that is what I call all of them :)

My daughter and another individual on the Capitol steps protesting the wolf hunt/trap.

My little ones are the first to hold the banner for the day.

Protesters of the wolf hunt/trap gathering on the Capitol steps

 The legislators initially came up the front steps but they didn't even want to make eye contact with us so they tried to sneak in a side entrance but the wolf protectors weren't going to let them off so easy so we all perched ourselves near that entrance.

Early morning gathering of wolf protectors.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Howling for Wolves had a booth at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival - Pet Fest Weekend - on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 and the response about the Wolf Hunt is exactly what we all expected.  People do not want the wolf hunt/trap this November and they were very eager to sign the petition demanding that it be stopped.  Out of the hundreds of people that passed by the HFW booth I personally only came across 3 that were in support of the hunt/trap and their responses went exactly like this:

"The wolf is a son of bitch, they'll kill your animals for fun and won't even bother to eat their kill." (false - wolves have been known to get into a feeding frenzy where parts of a kill is wasted but that is very rare)

"I don't understand why you don't want the wolf hunted, their numbers are out of control and pretty soon they'll start attacking people." (false - our wolf population hasn't been counted since 2008.  At that time the numbers were a little over 2900 and the count was based on the discovery of scat, tracks, depredation and seeing wolves in the wild.  Why does the 2008 count not represent accurate numbers?  Imagine counting the poop of your dogs.  One dog can poop several times.  If my dog take a poop 6x's does that mean I have 6 dogs?  Tracks are also misleading because wolves can cover the same territory several times.  Seeing a wolf in the wild and identifying it as such is very difficult.  Most people confuse the coyote with the wolf.  Same goes for livestock depredation.  Wolves get the blame for livestock kill when in fact a coyote is responsible.  Now here we are in 2012 and with the loss of habitat, road kills, disease, poaching (one of which was recently prosecuted and written about in the Star Tribune) and controlled legal killings by certified trappers, farmers & ranchers - how many wolves actually exist in Minnesota today?  We aren't sure.)

"Trapping doesn't hurt a wolf.  Their foot goes numb in the trap and it is virtually painless so please stop telling people that trapping is inhumane." (false - an animal in a trap doesn't cry and bleed when no pain is present.  Wolves have been known to chew off their own foot to get free from a trap.  The man arguing that wolves feel nothing when trapped claimed the wolf chews its own foot only because there it has no sensation.  He said a wolf wouldn't chew off its foot if it had feeling.  For those of you who wonder if this is true... Aaron Ralston cut off his own arm to free himself when his arm was trapped by a boulder while out hiking.  He said he experienced excruciating pain while doing so.  A wolf and a man will remove a body part not because it doesn't hurt but because the desire to survive and be free is greater.)

For the record, does this look painless to you?

One person did ask me if Wolves were native to Wisconsin because they believed that any species that were introduced to an area shouldn't be protected because they are a non-native species.  

The reintroduction of a wolf is not an introduction.  Wolves existed across the United States and were driven to the brink of extinction.  Minnesota is the only one of the lower 48 states that retained their original wolf population, the other states like Wisconsin needed a reintroduction of the species, which has fought their way back to good numbers.  

I came across a couple of hunters that were against hunting the wolf.  They were big deer hunters but think hunting the wolf is very wrong and they were happy to sign the petition requesting it be stopped.  Although I'm not a hunter I could identify with those two men for several reasons.  I come from a long line of hunters.  My family loved to hunt deer, waterfowl and small game like rabbit (some still do).  One of my earliest memories is seeing deer strung up in the backyard on our family property in Bemidji Minnesota.  There wasn't any "sending" the deer off for processing back then, the women in the family took care of that.

Being against wolf hunting has nothing to do with being against hunting in general.  My grandfather taught his children and his children taught their children that trophy hunting, which is the real reason people hunt the wolf (and bear), is for cowards.  My grandfather killed a bear once in self defense and he made it clear that he never felt good about it.  He believed as does the rest of my family that if you can't utilize all of what you hunt then you have no business killing it and although many hunters see hunting as a sport, my grandfather didn't, he was a man who lived off the land and that didn't include killing animals for their skull and pelt.  Minnesota's wolf hunt is about money, pure and simple (isn't all destruction of biodiversity about money) and Howling for Wolves is working diligently to stop it.

One of Howling for Wolves volunteers educating visitors to the booth on why the 
wolf hunt isn't necessary.

Our mama wolf showing the littles ones that there is no such thing as the "big bad wolf."

Let's not go back to this Minnesota:

My daughter as a peasant girl working at the Renaissance (I just had to throw this one in because I think she's so darn cute in that peasant girl outfit).

Friday, August 17, 2012


The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, ‘My God, what are these people doing to themselves? They’re killing each other. They’re killing themselves while we watch them die.’ This is how we came to own these United States. This is the legacy of manifest destiny.” (Aaron Huey)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


That is all I kept thinking about today.  We are running out of time to save our wolves.  The hunt begins in November and although it seems like a lifetime away it's really just around the corner.  The leaves are already beginning to change from a bright green to a dull yellow which means fall isn't far away.  Once the leaves begin to drop it won't be long and we'll be hearing about all the dead wolves being dragged into the DNR for inspection; not looking forward to the pictures that will emerge.  It is hard to comprehend how someone can save an animal from the brink of extinction and then shout "hey, they bounced back, now let's kill 'em."  It is insane. 

Well, we are doing our best to stop it.  As I told my daughters - if we sit and do nothing, the hunt/trap season is sure to happen, if we get up off our asses and try to make a difference then maybe the wolves will have a chance.  Here we are getting off the couch.  We spread ourselves out on Summit Avenue in front of the Govenor's mansion (since the Governor does have the power to stop this hunt/trap).  This fight isn't over - we'll be handing out information on the hunt and how you can help stop it at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival during Pet Fest weekend (August 18 & 19) so if you are in Minnesota make sure you drop by.
 (check out the press release about the protest at the Governors Mansion HERE)

My daughter Maya

Howling for Wolves founder Maureen is in the red jacket on left (awesome lady)

My daughter Yana

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Many of us grew up thinking of the wolf as a mythical creature lurking in the woods, ready to pounce on us without notice to consume our flesh.  Even as adults the mere mention of a wolf brings us back to that image of an innocent young girl dressed in a red cloak, fighting for her life.  Fairytales are fodder for the imagination.  They’ve been written throughout the ages to entertain children and adults alike, but their influence on the psyche can sometimes be anything but positive, and childhood stories about the big bad wolf are no exception.

Today the wolf is both loved and loathed.  In Minnesota and across the nation laws that once protected the gray wolf have been lifted and people are now lining up to decimate a creature whose very existence captures the essence of all that is beautiful in nature.  The wolf is one of the most misunderstood animals to inhabit the planet, and the desire to reduce their numbers in the wild stems from both fear and hatred. Such negative emotions have left no room for reason, and instead the public is being bombarded with misinformation that has no scientific basis.

The wolf is not a blood thirsty animal.  The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is a very social animal that lives within a pack composed mostly of family members.  The family lives, travels, and hunts together, and its members develop very close relationships with one another.  Their bond is so strong that wolves have even been known to sacrifice themselves to protect the family unit.  Gray wolves are shy and wary of humans so they tend to be elusive, but like all species they have an innate need to survive.  Wolves are carnivores that hunt both small and large game, and to do so they must cover a vast amount of territory on a daily basis.  On rare occasions their travels can lead them to farms where the lure of a good meal is just too difficult to pass up.  Fortunately livestock depredation is not a serious issue in Minnesota.  *In 2011, there were only 88 verified wolf livestock complaints in the entire state, and only about 80 out of 7,000 farms in Minnesota experienced wolf depredation of livestock.  What most people don’t know is that farmers are reimbursed full market value for their animals.  As well, there are many effective non-lethal methods to prevent such incursions, and owners of livestock and pets can now shoot wolves on sight that pose any threat.  Problem wolves are trapped by certified private predator controllers - 203 wolves were killed in 2011 and over 107 have been killed already this year.  
Our wolf numbers are not a cause for concern.  Most gray wolf packs number between four and nine.  In Minnesota it is estimated that we have about 3,000 wolves and 100 packs, most of which live in the northern part of the state.  *Since wolves are highly susceptible to starvation and disease, in addition to their ability to control their own numbers due to limited natural habitat, our wolf population has remained stable since 1998 - without the need for hunting and trapping.  

Without wolves, biodiversity is threatened.  Our wolves play a vital role in keeping the ecosystem in balance, and their presence helps maintain habitat for all wildlife in the forest.  *Wolves keep vegetation along rivers and streams healthy by controlling the movement of animals like deer and elk. Wolves are responsible for culling weakened individuals from prey species such as rabbit, beaver and muskrats, and help to maintain a healthy population of all animals. 

Minnesota is home to the only native wolf population in the lower 48 states.  In the 20th century wolves were the only mammals deliberately driven to the brink of extinction by humans. Today our attitude towards wildlife has changed; *outdoor enthusiasts outnumber hunters 4:1, so the existence of wolves and the possibility of seeing one in the wild is a significant draw for tourists.  We need to set an example and show the rest of the nation that as Minnesotans we respect and value our canine friends and they mean more to us than just a skull and pelt.  

Please join Howling for Wolves ( in their quest to stop wolf hunting and trapping this fall.  The law passed by the Minnesota Legislature to allow hunting/trapping is a “permissive” law that simply allows the DNR to have a hunt whenever they choose.  The DNR does not have to hold the hunt.  Contact the DNR and tell them you don’t want our wolves hunted or trapped: (651) 296-5484, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155-4040

~Michelle Valadez

Listen to Maureen Hacket (Founder of Howling for Wolves) discuss why the hunt/trap is a bad idea.  Click on this link and go to the middle line of the radio hour stream and you can listen to Maureen's interview:

*Minnesota Gray Wolves E-Book. St. Paul: Howling for Wolves, 2012. Howling for Wolves. 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. .

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


My good friend Teresa over at Homestead Notes: Raising Our Own is a very talented writer and is the Enchanted Conversation Contest Winner over at Enchanted Conversation: A Fairytale Magazine for writing an adorable children's story (13+)  The article is titled "Matches and Races" - please pop over there to check it out, it is a lovely read.