Peter Ripka, Ogilvie area farmer and Farmers Union Fieldman, is one of 20 people representing diverse groups and perspectives who have been selected to serve on the State Wolf Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to provide input to Department of Natural Resources to update Minnesota’s wolf management plan by developing recommended wolf management options and preferences, with particular emphasis on controversial aspects of wolf management.
Ripka said that the reason for setting up this committee is because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be delisting wolves from the endangered species list nationally this month. However, before that happens in Minnesota the DNR is going to take the year of 2020 to evaluate how the current Minnesota Wolf Management Plan that was established in 2001 is working and what may need to be improved. The committee will start meeting in April and continue until the process is completed with the management plan.
The DNR selected committee members who represent hunting and trapping; wolf advocacy and animal rights; livestock and agriculture; forestry, conservation and environmental protection; local governments and all geographic regions of the state.
The DNR will also have a technical workgroup to review wolf plan components; provide assessment and evaluation of the plan; and make recommendations on population monitoring, research and management.
“I was asked to represent the Farmers Union and cattle producers so I applied for the committee,” said Ripka. “They were looking for people who were not set in their ways, to sit at the table, to be objective, to listen to all sides of the issues and be a good voice for the people that they represent.”
As a dairy farmer Ripka said that his farm dog was once attacked by wolves. As a follow-up to that, he said that a DNR federal trapper was called in to set up traps. The trapper trapped seven yearling wolves near his farm back in 2011 and 2012. He added that other neighboring farmers have had a problem with wolves killing beef calves. He said that beef calves and sheep lambs are at highest risk to wolf predation.
Under the Wolf Management Plan livestock producers are compensated for the value of their animals that are lost to wolves. added that more money needs to be appropriated by the legislature to fully compensate farmers for their animal losses.
In addition to the advisory committee, the DNR will gather public input through a public perception survey, a public comment period and open houses at area wildlife offices.
The group is not a decision-making body and has no authority on wolf management policy, research or operations. DNR may seek consensus recommendations from the group, which DNR will strive to incorporate into revisions of the plan along with dissenting views.
Adopted in 2001, the state’s wolf management plan provides the framework that guides the state’s decisions about wolf regulations, population monitoring, management, conflicts, enforcement, damage control, education, research and other issues. The update of the plan is being done independently of any federal action on the status of wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
If anyone has specific suggestions for Ripka who is representing cattle producers on the committee should contact him at this email: email@example.com or call him at 320-412-6355.