The Big Story Blog

Three points on gray wolves, future after de-listing

Posted at 1:20 PM on December 21, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

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Gray Wolf. Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS

By the end of January, the gray wolf in Minnesota officially will be off the federal endangered species act list and under the management of state officials. What does that mean for the wolves and you? Here's some guidance from the Minnesota DNR:

Maintaining Minnesota's wolves

There are about 3,000 gray wolves in Minnesota. The DNR's plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 to ensure long-term survival in the state (no maximum number of wolves is set). The agency will act if surveys show wolves falling below that level. The federal de-listing requires the DNR to monitor wolves in Minnesota for at least five years.

Killing wolves

You can't hunt them, yet. But removal from the federal list means a gray wolf posing an "immediate threat" to livestock or pets on your property can be shot "in accordance with local statutes," the DNR says.

A wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock or a pet constitutes an "immediate threat." If you shoot or kill a wolf, you have to contact a DNR conservation officer within two days and turn over the wolf.

UPDATE: In the southern part of Minnesota, "immediate threat" is not required.

State rules also allow "harassment of wolves that are within 500 yards of people, buildings, livestock or domestic pets," the DNR adds. But you can't bait wolves to capture or kill them.

Hunting

Hunting seasons may be coming. MPR News reporter Stephanie Hemphill reports the DNR is working on a hunting and trapping plan for the gray wolf that could be ready for next fall if the Legislature approves

In Wisconsin, she adds, there are plans to consider a hunt if the late winter count exceeds 350 wolves outside of Indian reservations. The count in late winter 2011 was 782-824 wolves statewide and 751+ wolves outside of Indian reservations.

The Wisconsin DNR, however, would need legislative authority before calling a hunt and isn't likely to have rules in place by next fall, Hemphill says.


BONUS: Here's a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service map showing the range of the Western Great Lakes gray wolf (dark blue is the primary area).

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About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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