Amy Klobuchar is substantive, smart, hard-working, avoids controversy, rarely makes a public verbal misstep -- save for the vaguely northern accent, she's sort of the anti-Sarah Palin. But now Minnesota's respectable senator has revealed what she has in common with Alaska's inescapable former governor: An insatiable thirst for wolf blood.
We might be overselling this just a bit. But try telling that to the wolves. (Actually, don't. They will eat you.)
Yesterday, Klobuchar said that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will support a renewed pledge to trap and kill hundreds of Minnesota's wolves. The announcement came just days after a lack of funding brought an end to a federal program of wolf-trapping, which had, typically thanks to legislators' earmarks, gone on for 33 years.
Now, Klobuchar tells the Duluth News Tribune that she not only wants to bring back funding for the program, but also to take the wolf off the endangered species list. Perhaps in its place we could put "environmentalist politicians."
Klobuchar told the News Tribune she wants to bring back the program because it's the best thing for Minnesota's farmers and ranchers, who otherwise feel besieged by feral packs.
"We need this program to keep Minnesota livestock and residents safe," Klobuchar said."The gap in that coverage was unacceptable."
Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture received 272 complaints about wolves, and "took care of" about 192 wolves, if you know what the U.S. Department of Agriculture is saying. The year before, 192 wolves were trapped and killed by the USDA. This year, the number was up to 189, before the earmark ran out.
At the moment, Minnesota's wolves are not technically endangered and are instead classified as "threatened," which means they can be killed legally. This is thanks to the current headcount of 3,200, a number that fish and wildlife officials consider quite sturdy given the certain extinction they were headed for when they first hit the endangered list in 1974.
In other states, like Wisconsin and Michigan -- where populations are in the hundreds -- wolves are totally protected. When trapped near farms and ranches in those states, wolves are simply driven into the middle of the woods and released, which is merely disorienting but not fatal.
Advocates say the controlled culling of "troublemaker" wolves is a better alternative than leaving it up to lone ranchers, who might take matters into their own hands with guns or even poison. Critics of the program argue that the war against wolves is merely a distraction from the real problem of werewolves, which was ignored yet again in President Obama's budget.