The Big Story Blog

Four points on a proposed wolf hunting season

Posted at 4:24 PM on January 26, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

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Gray Wolf. Credit: Gary Kramer/USFWS.

State Department of Natural Resources officials have been testifying today in the
Minnesota House and Senate on the proposed gray wolf hunting and trapping season. While there are still plenty of details to work out, here's some of what we learned today.

Legislation. A wolf season requires legislative approval. There's a bill in the hopper calling for a wolf hunting season during the 2012 firearms deer season and a wolf trapping season to begin January 1, 2013.

Fees. The bill calls for a resident wolf hunting license fee of $38 and a $50 fee for trappers. At a Senate hearing this afternoon, DNR officials projected raising about $400,000 a year in new revenue.

That includes a $4 application fee with an expected 25,000 applications and a $50 fee for each of 6,000 licenses to hunt and/or trap 400 wolves.

Officials acknowledged it's not clear if Minnesotans have a long term interest in hunting wolves.

Odds. It's tough to hunt a wolf, the DNR's Dan Stark told senators this afternoon. Wolves use a lot of ground, as much as 200 square miles, he said. "You can imagine how much area a hunter or trapper would have to cover to be effective in getting a wolf."

Trapping, he added, is likely to be a lot more effective than hunting. The DNR hasn't ruled out allowing some type of baiting.

Farmers. With the gray wolf off the federal endangered species list, farmers have more flexibility to kill wolves that threaten and kill livestock, so-called wolf depredation.

But a wolf hunting season probably is not going to help farmers.

Stark said complaints about wolves killing livestock typically peak in the summer when wolf populations are higher following the birth of pups in the spring. The winter wolf population is fairly stable and "taking wolves in the winter isn't likely to address a lot of depredation complaints."

The wolf season, he added, will be "more of a recreational hunting opportunity."


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.