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Almanac: Red Lake Band of Chippewa designates land as wolf sanctuary

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The Red Lake Band of Chippewa adopted a wolf-management plan last week that designates the tribe’s 843,000 acres in eight counties of northern Minnesota as a wolf sanctuary to preserve wolves and their habitat. The plan emphasizes that the tribe has ultimate authority over wolf management on tribal lands.

“The council wanted to make it clear that no matter what the state does, the tribe will determine what happens to wolves on tribal land,” said Jay Huseby, Red Lake Department of Natural Resources wildlife director.

The state has developed a management plan it would use when, and if, the federal government removes wolves from the endangered species list and turns management over to the state. That pending action prompted the tribe to adopt its plan.

Huseby said the plan formalizes how the tribe has been managing its wolves. It doesn’t prevent removing problem wolves, “but we will do everything we can not to go to that measure,” he said.

An estimated 100 wolves roam the tribe’s lands. State biologists estimate the entire state’s wolf population at about 3,000. Huseby noted the wolf represents a “minor clan” of the band, and their importance in Chippewa culture is highlighted in legends and oral history.

Doug Smith, Star Tribune

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