Minn. DNR announces new wolf hunting season for fall

wolves.jpgWolves roam in the wilderness in February 2010 near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. (MPR File Photo/Derek Montgomery)

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By Elizabeth Dunbar

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Friday it will propose a new wolf hunting season for as early as this fall.

The state expects management of the population to fall back into its hands after the gray wolf in the Great Lakes region is officially removed from federal protection later this month.

The DNR is seeking authority from the Legislature to create a new wolf license that would be available through a lottery system. The hunting season, which would include trapping, would likely take place between late November and early January, said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist.

DNR officials said it has not yet set the number of licenses it will distribute or a target harvest rate. The first hunting season will be conservative so that the DNR can begin to collect data on how successful hunters are and how the wolf population responds, officials said.

There are approximately 3,000 wolves in Minnesota, and Stark said the population needs to stay above 1,600 to remain sustainable. But he said success rates among wolf hunters in other states have been very low.

“It’s kind of an opportunistic thing,” he said. “Trappers targeting wolves are probably going to be more effective.”

It will be the third time the federal government removes Great Lakes region wolves from the Endangered Species Act. The other two times, the wolf was put back under protection following legal action by some animal rights and conservation groups.

A legal challenge is still possible this time, and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr acknowledged that hunting wolves will be a sensitive issue.

“The wolf is really an iconic species in Minnesota,” he said. “We need to proceed with care.”

Landwehr said the state has a history of managing game species responsibly.

“We take this conditional opportunity seriously, and we’re going to demonstrate that we can do it right,” he said.

Ed Boggess, director of the DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, said many of the specifics of the proposed hunt still have to be worked out. He expects that will happen during the upcoming legislative session.

Boggess said DNR officials will propose starting with a small number of licenses to be cautious.

“We don’t want to do anything that would get the wolf put back on the list,” he said.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, oversees DNR matters at the Legislature and said he supports a wolf hunting season. Ingebrigtsen said he wants to see the DNR’s specific proposal but will do what he can to expedite legislation to allow the hunt.

  • Ann Millikan

    A wolf hunting season? How can the DNR justify taking an animal off the endangered species list, then allowing the public to have it with their shotguns? This is disgusting, irresponsible, and completely unnecessary. Wolves have been brutally trapped and hunted down throughout history. They are only now recovering because of protection. If wolves don’t need to be on the endangered species list anymore, then we should be moving toward responsible coexistence with them, not a hunting season. Since when do we hunt predators that are not edible? Wolves are highly intelligent social animals, and an important part of the ecosystem that keeps herds healthy. If ranchers are behind this push then the DNR needs to take a serious look at alternatives to how livestock are managed, and what time of year they are put out to pasture. Wolves follow herds, if ranchers put their livestock in their migratory territory what do they expect?

  • T.S.

    Who says they are not edible?

  • PK

    Sounds like Ann is animal rights activist

  • SKNJ

    So am I. We should not be messing with these ecosystems the way we have been.

  • Catherine Carey

    I am 100% against hunting wolves in Minnesota. There are so few wolves in the state and, unlike bears, they are inedible. There is no sport in hunting wolves … only slaughter. Shame on the DNR for making such a foolish decision. These animals were on the endangered list because they were hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction until recently. Many of us love wolves here in Minnesota. Farmers should invest in some Irish Wolfhounds or Great Pyrs if they want their livestock protected. Wolves should be killed only as a last resort.

  • owen haugen

    Well it’s about time! They population is definitely high than thought. They can be managed without the danger of extinction, Alaska has done it for years. Have any of you animal rights people ever seen a pack kill anything? Cause I have. If it was dragging your pet or child across your front lawn you would change your mind.

  • Why is the hunt needed? SO the hunters can kill more game? So the ranchers can have more public land to graze their herds on?

    How about better prevention for ranchers? Some do it and never have any wolf attacks. How about going after unethical hunters who shoot anything that moves? They cause more damage to ecosystems than wolves do.

    It’s like they were removed form the ESA and all of a sudden people are calling for an extermination!

  • owen haugen

    Further more, for any of you that think there are few wolves, take a trip up to NW Minnesota! They are everywhere. And wolves are no longer just predators, they have become scavengers!

  • Jenny

    wow… so many uninformed comments. =( You just need to look to ID where they opened a hunt and didnt even get the 1% of the permits filled. Irish wolfhounds and GPs are totally differant dogs. I know someone that has GPs and still looses stock. Wolfhounds are for hunting, GPs are a livestock guard dog. There are more wolves in MN and northern WI than just about anywhere else in the state. and they TRAVEL!

    For those that think this is a ‘rancher’ push… talk to those that have lost their family pet or maybe out for a walk in the woods and coming face to face with one. You people need to inform yourselves before commenting! There is lots more at stake here. Wolves do not only hunt on public lands. they come well into the private sector and you dont even know it.

  • Brian

    I am a hunter, but I will never fire a weapon at what is truly one of the most beautiful symbols of this State.

  • auntie

    The DNR doesn’t give a fig about the wildlife itself. All they care about is providing living things for hunters to make dead. I have no respect for the MN DNR.

  • Jeff

    Anyone who apposes this going through does not understand conservation. You cant kill the prey and not the predator and expect the numbers to stay in balance. Wolves have killed many peoples pets and its only a mater of time until they kill a young child. Look at Idaho they have been hunting wolves for years and their population is on a steady incline. This is a great thing for MN and for the wildlife in it. Also the extra money goes to buying land to make sure all wildlife has a place in MN.

  • suestuben

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on the trapping allowance, which is one of the most horrific ways to capture and kill. And for those who worry about coming face to face with a wolf in the wild, how about stepping into one of the traps strung across wolf trails? I think there will be more pets taken by traps than by wolves, not to mention the farmers who let their herds loose on public lands.

    As to that, why are we allowing public property to support some farmers? If they cannot keep their animals on their purchased and fenced in property, than their herds are too large. Certainly the herds are interfering with my recreational use of that land, not to mention the destruction a non-native species is doing to the native plant and animal species on that land. Once again corporate interests, like the Cattleman’s Assn. or Pork Producers, are paying off our MN elected officials to allow a certain group of Minnesotans unfair access to what is “our” property, thereby destroying a part of MN that is supposed to be available to many future generations of Minnesotans.

  • k

    Its because of hunters and the DNR that the wolves have had such a successful rebound. The population of wolves in the BWCA has grown to a large number and the deer population has been so devastated that I here from hunters all the time that nary a deer sign could be found but wolf tracks were everywhere. Hunters will be careful and take only what is determined to be a healthy number. Only 10 miles to the north, there is a bounty on them, and the Canadians have no problem.

  • k

    Its because of hunters and the DNR that the wolves have had such a successful rebound. The population of wolves in the BWCA has grown to a large number and the deer population has been so devastated that I here from hunters all the time that nary a deer sign could be found but wolf tracks were everywhere. Hunters will be careful and take only what is determined to be a healthy number. Only 10 miles to the north, there is a bounty on them, and the Canadians have no problem.

  • k

    Its because of hunters and the DNR that the wolves have had such a successful rebound. The population of wolves in the BWCA has grown to a large number and the deer population has been so devastated that I hear from hunters all the time that nary a deer sign could be found but wolf tracks were everywhere. Hunters will be careful and take only what is determined to be a healthy number. Only 10 miles to the north, there is a bounty on them, and the Canadians have no problem.

  • k

    Its because of hunters and the DNR that the wolves have had such a successful rebound. The population of wolves in the BWCA has grown to a large number and the deer population has been so devastated that I hear from hunters all the time that nary a deer sign could be found but wolf tracks were everywhere. Hunters will be careful and take only what is determined to be a healthy number. Only 10 miles to the north, there is a bounty on them, and the Canadians have no problem.

  • ScottS

    A really good point by SueStueben:

    “… there will be more pets taken by traps than by wolves…”

    A trap can’t tell the difference between a wolf and a dog. We know how to protect our dogs from coyotes and wolves at home and in person, but with trapping we’ll never even be able to let them run. Ours are fine in the yard or on the leash, but let’s take a poll of how many dogs currently run in places where they would end up dead in wolf traps.

    Another point: unless there’s something really different about a hunting season for wolves, there will be problem wolves that will continue to be problems for agriculture, and non-problematic wolves that will be senselessly killed. Lottery hunters will be out for trophies in the wild, far from livestock and pets.

    I’m one of the people who will continue to ask for State or Federal protection of non-problematic wolves (that only hunt wild prey or scavenge).

  • Ben

    Traps are put were dogs shouldn’t be. For everyone to be sad for the wolf ” what about all the deer that are killed by the wolf “. Stop thinking hunting is a terrible thing.

  • Eric

    Jeff?..wolves have killed many people? Can anybody please site references for this claim? I do not have anything against a well regulated hunting season but let’s stay with the facts.

  • Eric

    Are pets currently being caught in raccoon and coyote traps? Rarely if ever. Wolf trapping will Be no different. In fact if pets are in a trapped area they are in more danger from wolves than from traps and shouldn’t be there at all.

  • Pooter

    Im all for it! The wolf is my favorite animal of all animals, yes they are very smart but yes they are very dangerous and are indeed getting over populated. Ive seen some coments by some of u so called ” animal lovers” that we should try to coexist with them?? “WOW” have ya ever seen them kill anything? I have pets, kids, nephews, neices, and certanly dont wan them to have a run in with a wolf! Here’s an idea lets put u out there with no weapon and u sit out there and try to talk to them to see what they think and let us know.

  • Eric

    Hunting, whether done by wolves, humans or other predators, is often a gruesome affair. For those that have distanced themselves from that aspect of nature it is difficult to think about. However, the fact that wolves kill to eat is not a reason to hold a hunting season. There are other reasons but the fact that they are efficient predators is not one of them. By the way, I am still waiting for anybody to cite a reference to a wolf killing a human in the last 100 years.

  • Erin

    This summer my family and I saw a wolf from my parents deck. It crossed the field at 150 yards and just watched us as in lopped by, not the least bit concerned. A couple of days later I found it’s scat 75 yards from the deck and have since found several more piles within several hundred yards. A couple of years ago it was not uncommon to see 20+ deer a day, now your lucky to see 3 all season. I don’t see any comments on the other side of this slaughter by you “tree buggers”. What about the money raised that will fund more research, fund the conservation officers, purchase more land? Would any of you let rats take over your house? I’d have to guess that not many of you actually live off the land, plant your own garden, raise your animals. Get a clue. This is how you protect our resources!

  • Dan

    I’ve been reading treehugger crap for a long time ,you whine about saving every thing that comes down the pike. The truth is most of you wouldn’t leave the pavement unless the DNR males a trail for you! As a hunter and ATV rider you all make me sick. I’ve had you scream at me on an ATV trail that we have no place in the woods and at the same time you wouldn’t even be out there if we didn’t make the trails. As for wolf hunting I will be happy to be the first one to enter the drawing so that my license fee will help save the wolf. Maybe you huggers should spend more of your money also helping the wolf. Also do a little reserch and you will find attacks by wolves on humans. The year 2000 a six year old boy in Icy Bay, Alaska named John Stenglein, and a 23 year old man from Vargas Island, British Colombia were both attacked by wolves

  • Eric

    So we have one case of wolves attacking (not killing) humans. Any others?

  • SKNJ

    Gee, Dan, you sound really intelligent and reliable. LOL

  • John

    For Eric, Jeff said, many peoples pets have been killed by wolves.

    Alaska-March 15, 2010 Candice Berner age 32 was killed by wolves.

    To open a hunting season is to manage the wolf population, not to eliminate them, in the same way we manage our Elk and Moose hunting, everything needs to have a balance.

  • Eric

    So now we are up to two attacks on humans. Yes there are no doubt many more. They happen on occasion but are still rare. If I were to go jogging on a remote Alaska road I will be sure to carry a handgun.

  • brad

    We can’t just manage a hand full of animals. Once something becomes healthy enough to be hunted It becomes smarter and is able to survive and thrive better than just being on a list that protects them.

    Look at the whitetail deer or the Canadian goose and the turkey. 3 great examples of pulling a species from the brink of extinction and with a good management program are almost a nuisance today.

    A species as illusive as the wolf will be able to do the same in a managed environment. You can’t just kill the cute and fuzzy thing and have a healthy ecosystem.

    I spend every day in the woods and not only do we have a problem with wolves we have a real problem with all predators,coyotes, fox, bobcat, racoons,etc. that I didn’t see more than a hand full of ducks and grouse this season. We need to manage it all or suffer the same fate as the duck in MN.

    As far as letting your dogs and cats roam free, they are fair game also. Tie them up!

  • SKNJ

    Has it occurred to anyone that the “overpopulation” problem actually belongs to the species “Homo Sapien”?

  • reddawg


  • hunter

    Trapping domestic animals? really i have trapped for several years and never have caught a domestic cat or dog….and as for catching a farmers heard in a trap….i cant say i have ever heard of someone catching a sheep cattle or horse. etc. and trapping is not as grusome as u think treehuggers its not that painful i have caught my fingers in traps it doesnt hurt jus takes you by surprise and it’s a quick death almost as fast of being shot of being shot(depending on the trap)….so how bout you peta freaks shut up and let the goverment do whats right and take control of this situation instead of letting the wolves take over the deer, elk moose, bear populations!!!!!

  • Craig

    All for it! I deer hunt in NE Mn. and it is getting unbelievable how many wolves & wolf/deer kills we encounter over the two weeks. I have witnessed the pack kill just this year again and it was completely for sport. They chase them down, kill them, then leave them. On rare occasions we have found where they have actually eaten part of the deer. This is a very common characteristic of over population. On a side note…what is really sad is that I have never met an animal rights activist who is not pro-abortion (or pro-choice as they call it). I make that statement because it puts into perspective the value system and moral fiber of those that oppose this sort of necessary action.

  • t. m.

    What if you were like me? Heading out to the stand in the early morning with nothing but a bow and arrow… And coming face to face with a snarling mouth, hair standing up on the neck, and bright yellow eyes staring right at you? And all you are going to do is white-tail archery hunt? Luckily I was close to my stand and I scurried up it as fast as I could… I think it would be good to at least be able to protect myself from that! Just like somebody else posted for all the tree huggers, it could be your child or pet the wolves drag across your yard… but wait you can’t kill them there endangered???

  • t. m.

    Remember that Discovery channel show about the guy that lived with the grizzlies? He (thought) he knew them pretty good being that he watched them grow up from cubs to adults… But then it ate him!!! hmmm go figure?

  • t. m.

    Remember that Discovery channel show about the guy that lived with the grizzlies? He (thought) he knew them pretty good being that he watched them grow up from cubs to adults… But then it ate him!!! hmmm go figure?

  • r.s.

    I love the comments about how if you were faced with a wolf what would you do. Protection is 1 thing, killing for for pure sport is another. And if youre so worried about your kids and pets getting attacked, try keeping an eye on them. Again, that falls under protecting, not just going up to kill them just for fun. You cant say theyre overpopluated, they just came off the endangered species list. Im not a tree hugger or some sort activist, just someone irritated witj comments that arent clearly well thought out.

  • Andrew

    Don’t hunt wolves! Let them eat the dogs and cattle, they are just tyring to survive. Watch over your stuff better if you care that much! Geez

  • NativePride

    I have been an outdoorsman/hunter for 20 years and never witnessed aggressive behavior from wolves. Only animals that have been habituated to taking livestock or show aggressive tendancies toward humans should be targeted, not the population as a whole. During a moratorium period we should study the behaviors of the wild wolves in the state and then decide on a management program, doing so prior is to act on sentimental ignorance. The only documented cases of wolf attacks on humans in Minnesota that I can find have been from wolves held in captivity as pets. And remember the #1 predator of deer isn’t hunter or wolves it’s vehicles.

  • may

    The wolves are snarling at you because you are in their territory killing there food – you are tresspassing in there home dumbasses

  • PAUL



  • craig

    The first post from Ann Millikan is disgusting to me. She is most likely some childless lesbian animal rights activist!

    Wolves can be harvested and sold for Fur.

    They will wreak havoc on Deer, Elk populations.

    They kill more than they need to eat. It’s a fact!

  • mnfarmer

    it is about time to control the wolves i was from the far northwest mn. and a cattle rancher,17 wolves in the pack that killed my calves and other calves that lived with scares on there ass.you people that worry about if we are on goverment land can blow it out your ass,your dogs were on my land . open your eyes and get out on dirt instead of watching animal planet.i have no problem with wolves being here,but if you think we can go back to the early 1900s with the population of people and still have that amount of wolves for that era,put your lip over your head and swallow would help to

  • i would love to do some wolf hunting this fall for all you city people you can just stay in that hole you live in and stay safe and keep your noise out of the wildlife world because you guys have no idea

  • Louie Conrad

    I thought I had read or seen optimal stupidity until I read through these blogs. It is very evident that many of these bloggers are among the most ignorant people in the world. They know nothing about rural America, livestocking farming, children safety, or animal behavior I don’t care how high your IQ is, you know nothing except emotion. Wake up and educate yourself!

  • david salmonson

    I need to know who is backing this push to hunt/trap wolves. It seems to be backed by ALEC/NRA/GOP.

    The GOP in Wisconsin just forced its wolf hunt/trap season where “hunters” will be able to use night vision goggles and steel cable traps. Guess I won’t be going to Wisconsin anytime soon.

    It is really kind of sad as the deer populations are just starting to get healthy again. It’s been shown time and again that the only way to keep a large, healthy deer and moose population is by having a healthy wolf population. Why would any tourist want to walk in wooded areas of the state when there are traps that could rip off their leg or kill them?

  • nick

    I support a wolf hunt for simply two reasons, controlled growth of the population, and to bring human fear back to the wolf. Wolves have been protected for so long that they no longer fear humans as naturally they should…I have had personal encounters along with others I know. Wolves are extremely intelligent and will learn to fear humans when hunted. The amount of wolves taken each year by trappers and hunters will most likely not match reproduction rates, but may keep the current population in check…this I believe is the goal. I have read several comments from folks that I would bet do not spend any meaningful time in wolf country. There is a real danger growing to people, economic resources, and natural resources. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but keep what it best for all when considering your comments.

  • Don

    Here’s a link for you, http://www.aws.vcn.com/wolf_attacks_on_humans.html

    I think its funny that you ask for attacks in the last 100 years well lets look at where the wolves population was at 100 years ago until today, wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned to near extinction and the DNR had no control over it. It is only though the efforts of the DNR and a few other individuals that the wolves population is where it is at today. The DNR has protected the wolves and the population has reached a manageable level to where they need to be hunted to stop wolves from migrating into more populated area’s.

  • Barbara Murray Lofquist

    I get a huge kick out of all the “outdoorsmen” calling themselves “hunters”! Enjoying the outdoors on a hike, on a bike, in a canoe that is an outdoorsman. Sitting in a shack with buddies, cooking over a wood stove, having a few cocktails, getting up early after a store bought breakfast, sitting in a tree and killing a deer to get a few gamey meals out of? Not hunting or tracking! The days of needing to go out and sustain yourself in the woods have been gone for a few generations. It is a nice tradition, but totally unneccesary. How about we stop killing and trapping wild things for a few years and see how they manage themselves? Since we have grocery stores hunting is a luxury and not necessary. Take your kid camping with a camera, go for long walks, identify all of the plants and trees and birds etc. at your campsite. That creates memories and knowledge. By the way, wolf hunting and trapping is a terrible idea! Almost as stupid as trying to raise cattle in the north woods. Ranchers guarded their herds, hired people with a gun and a horse to keep watch. Just saying…..

  • Mike

    I lived in western MT. 22 years ago for 10 years and enjoyed a bounty of wild game and totally depended on it. Now there are only wolves. I am saddened that what I remember no longer exists. The same thing has happened up north. We need to control the wolf population so our moose and deer populations can rebound which in turn will make the wolf population better. Also it is because of the Pitmonson Robertson Act that all of our game animals have flourished from all of our sportsmens dollars. The funds from the wolf tags will be well spent.

  • Cherie

    WOW! I don’t think some of the hunters posting here should be allowed to own guns. You sound absolutely crazy to me. I’ll take the wolves over you crazy hunters ANY DAY!! Talk about scary!

  • Roger

    Why is the DNR not following the Minnesota Wolf Management plan that called for a 5 yr wait on public hunting after delisting by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service? Why, because the DNR needs/wants license fees from wolf hunters and trappers to help pay rancers for any livestock losses. Also the NRA has pushed for a wolf hunting season in Minnesota. Wolves eat 18 deer per year in Minnesota. So what! We have over a million white tailed deer and only about 3,000 Grey Wolves. Give me a break. Better yet give Minnesota’s Grey Wolves a break and stick to Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan.

  • Butch

    I can see where most of the radicals that are against wolf control are women. Do you think of them as furry pets? Don’t you have anything to do with your life but protest. Get a job!!! If it was in the 1700’s you would beg to have a piece of fur to wear to keep warm. Give me a break, make some jam, make a quilt. Just don’t go radical on a subject you know nothing about.

  • Linda Camac

    Yeah, just the point Butch…it is NOT the 1700’s – catch up! Wolves are iconic, majestic wildlife that are symbols of freedom. They also are essential in balancing nature and are only responsible for less than 1% of all cattle deaths through predation. To have a season on wolves is just not American! The states have proven that they cannot handle wolf management with their brutal photos of wolves in traps being skinned alive and trophies. Disgusting, immoral, and a crime against nature!