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Minn. officials ready to manage wolf population

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota officials said Wednesday that the federal government’s decision to remove the region’s gray wolves from the endangered species list may lead to a hunting and trapping season as early as next fall.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the agency is “ready and able” to take over management of Minnesota’s wolf population from the federal government.

Minnesota has a stable population of about 3,000 wolves, mostly in northeastern Minnesota, but they range as far south as southern Pine County.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Minnesota has about double the number of wolves it should have, and they’re killing livestock and pets, so it was time for them to come off the endangered list.

Ed Boggess, the DNR’s fish and wildlife director, said a wolf hunting and trapping season could begin as early as this fall, but details still are being worked out and it might take longer.

The DNR also hasn’t decided yet what total harvest levels would be, but the agency likely will seek to keep wolf numbers above the state’s minimum population goal of 1,600, said Dan Stark, the DNR’s wolf management specialist. There will be a public comment period at some point.