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MN: DNR: Majority of wolf survey respondents don’t support a wolf season

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

A vast majority of people responding to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources online survey oppose the idea of a gray wolf hunting and trapping season in the state, according to a DNR official.

More than 7,000 people have completed an online survey about Minnesota’s first formal wolf hunting and trapping season, Kathy DonCarlos, deputy director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said today.

Of the 7,351 respondents, only about 1,500 supported a hunting and trapping season on wolves, DonCarlos said.

“Many more people responded that they did not support a season,” DonCarlos said.

The online survey, which ran for about a month, was not intended to help the DNR decide whether to hold a season or not. After the gray wolf was removed from the federal endangered species list in January, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill establishing this fall’s season. The early wolf hunting season will begin on Nov. 3, the same day as the state’s firearms deer season. A later hunting and trapping season will begin Nov. 24.

The DNR now must decide how to structure and manage that season, and the primary purpose of the online survey was to gather input for that process. However, the first question in the survey asked whether the respondent supported or opposed the wolf season.

“I’m surprised at the results,” said Nancy Gibson, of St. Louis Park, Minn., co-founder of the International Wolf Center in Ely. “There’s a strong contingent of people in Minnesota who don’t want to see the wolf hunted and didn’t want to see the (protected) status changed so quickly. I’m glad they participated in the process.”

Joe Cannella, development director with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said many hunters might not have weighed in on the survey because the season already had been established.

“In all reality, that survey was just to see how people felt,” Cannella said. “The public had already spoken via the Legislature.”

Response to the survey was much greater than DNR officials had expected, DonCarlos said.

“The vast majority responding were responding to whether there should be a season or not,” DonCarlos said.

The agency will tabulate results of the survey, which included an opportunity for respondents to offer comments. The DNR hopes to have results of the survey compiled by Monday or Tuesday, DonCarlos said.