Dayton defends wolf hunting, calls for clean energy at fair

Gov. Mark Dayton took question at the MPR booth at the Minnesota State Fair. (MPR Photo/ Mark Zdechlik)

Gov. Mark Dayton today defended the state’s second hunting and trapping season that gets underway in November. During an MPR News interview at the Minnesota State Fair, he also questioned the timing of the people who are now objecting to it to the hunt.

The governor also said Minnesota should aim to eventually eliminate of coal-burning power plants in the state.

Wolf advocates recently called on the governor and the Department of Natural Resources to cancel this year’s hunt. They’ve raised concerns about a decline in Minnesota’s wolf population. But Dayton said the DNR is trying to control that population, so that wolves stay away from people and livestock. He said he didn’t hear any complaints when the wolf hunting law passed in 2012.

“I respect those who do have that concern,” Dayton said. “But I don’t know where they were during that session, because it came as a part of a non-controversial amendment to a bill, and I signed it. So now it’s law, and if the people want to change the law, the Legislature is the place to do that. I don’t have the authority. No one in the executive branch has the authority to countermand the law.”

The Humane Society and the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter were among groups that opposed the wolf hunt when the Legislature debated it in 2012.

In response to a question about climate change, Dayton said the state’s strategy should include an eventual elimination of coal-burning power plants as Minnesota needs to  move toward less-polluting sources of energy, such as wind and solar. He said the availability and price of natural gas make it possible to set a goal of getting rid of coal as a source of electricity.

“I don’t know what a feasible time frame is.” Dayton said. “But certainly in the next 10 to 20 years, we ought to convert everything that is now coal to natural gas or to wind or to solar, and be in the forefront of creating a cleaner environment.”

Dayton said Minnesota is far ahead on such issues. He described those who do not believe in the threat of climate change as having a “Neanderthal view.”

  • 123tl78

    Too bad for the wolves that they are not being protected. The only thing that has to be managed is the human population explosion, cattle and sheep explosion and some people not willing to coexist with wildlife that was here first. You could use livestock guardian dogs and fencing and other nonlethal methods. As for steel traps. They intentionally make the animal suffer for hours and days and try to bite its limb off to get away. If any person did this to a dog, cat or domestic horse, they would be charged with animal abuse. I fear we will be left with cattle, sheep, overgrazed lands, traps and no wildlife if some people have their way. Peanut butter is looking a a lot more appealing as the meal of choice.

  • 123tl78

    Why does my comment not show?

  • 123tl78

    Too bad the wolves aren’t being protected. Wolves are animals. It’s not up to a necessary predator to respect us. It’s the other way around. They were here first. We are the ones that invaded the wild lands. If you live in this country where wolves are supposed to be, shouldn’t it be our duty to respect them and let them keep a balance in the ecosystem? People could coexist with wolves with livestock fencing, guardian dogs and other nonlethal methods. Steel traps cause the animal to suffer for hours and days and try to bite its limb off. Why is that okay? If any person did that to a dog, cat or domestic horse they would be charged with animal abuse.

  • 123tl78

    Not cool to not allow comments that don’t fill your agenda. This is the USA remember? I shall spread the news about this.

  • 123tl78

    So how many minutes will it take to delete these comments again?

  • 123tl78

    Thank you. Don’t have a comment section if you aren’t willing to accept a different point of view. People have a right to speak up.

  • 123tl78

    Thank you. Don’t have a comment section if you aren’t willing to allow comments with differing opinions than what is in this article. People have a right to speak up and this particular comment had to be posted again because it was deleted.

  • 123tl78

    Good. Have to keep the media honest.

  • Mike Chutich

    Disappointing that Governor Dayton doesn’t know or acknowledge that there was active opposition to the wolf hunt legislation in 2012. Also disappointing that we have a DNR that represents only hunters, trappers and other special interests that want to kill wolves for fun. They need to represent the majority of Minnesotans who want wolves protected. We will fix this. We need legislators and a governor with the courage to say no to the special interests that kill wolves for fun and profit. This is our state, and it is better than this.

  • Mark Johnson

    Good Call Governor. The legislature did direct DNR to hold the first season and that season was successful both in the harvest and in its management. Wolves are no longer endangered. They are protected in MN as a game/furbearer species, but they are also managed and that management plan includes hunting and trapping. The federal government knows this and supports Minnesota’s management. The feds also have announced plans to delist the wolf nationally from the Endangered Species Act because federal wolf recovery specialists have a wealth of research and knowledge that shows wolves are doing very well and now need to be managed. Are wolves everywhere and in the numbers they were 300 years ago, no. But, do you really want wolf packs roaming Austin MN or Worthington or Des Moines?
    Wolves are phenomenal critters. I appreciate them, live near them and see them often. But they are quite healthy in population here in northern MN and their management is just another sign that they will continue to do well in the future. Celebrate their management as a sign of their success, and celebrate the hunt as a part of management.