The Big Story Blog

Conservative wolf hunt best, witnesses tell lawmakers

Posted at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

(MPR Photo/Derek Montgomery)

They don't agree on everything, but deer hunters, researchers and the Humane Society told lawmakers this morning a conservative approach is the best path for a proposed fall wolf hunt in Minnesota.

MPR News reporter Stephanie Hemphill kept tabs on the morning meeting in the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. She writes:

Noted wolf researcher Dave Mech told members it's very hard to shoot or even to trap a wolf. He said it's good to start small -- the DNR plans for a quota of 400 wolves in the first season -- in order to guage hunter interest and success rates.

"I think the first year, the first couple of years there will be a certain number people who want to hang a wolf rug on the wall, but after you get that first wolf rug, I mean how many more do you want to hang on your wall?"

The DNR is proposing a season in late fall, when pelts are prime. Deer hunters are interested in a season parallel with deer firearms season.

Mark Johnson, from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, agreed with other speakers that the first hunting season should be designed conservatively.

"The number one concern is seeing that state managment is initiated and it's done in an open enough fashion so people have opportunities and the money is there. But also enough parameters around it so state management of the wolf would continue. Number two, the subject comes up, we'd sure love to have it during the deer season."

The DNR wants a quota of 400 wolves for a hunting and trapping season in the late fall. The agency says if the season is held at the same time as deer firearms season, the kill might go higher than that.

The Humane Society continued to question whether the gray wolf population has recovered fully, Hemphill added.

While pleased by the DNR's conservative approach to fall hunt, Howard Goldman, the Humane Society's Minnesota state director, told lawmakers hunting may threaten the survival of wolves in the state.

His group hasn't yet decided whether to challenge the federal government's decision to remove the wolf from the endangered species list in the western Great Lakes.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee is expected to review the plan at 3 p.m. today. The DNR needs legislative approval from lawmakers to conduct a wolf hunting and trapping season.

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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