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MN: Effort to track wolf attacks produces varying numbers

Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune

The number of verified wolf attacks on livestock or pets in Minnesota was down 16 percent in 2011 but still was 6 percent above the five-year average.

Federal officials received 211 complaints last year and verified 109 of them. Wolves killed 129 domestic animals, including 75 calves, 16 cows, nine sheep and six dogs. Wolves also injured four dogs.

Fewer dogs were killed than in the previous two years. Wolves killed 11 dogs in 2009 and 15 in 2010, in addition to wounding another eight dogs last year.

In response to the depredations, trappers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services captured 215 wolves, killing 203 of them. Both numbers are the second highest since the program began in 1970. In comparison, federal trappers captured and killed 192 wolves in 2010.

The top five counties with verified wolf depredations were Carlton (14), Kittson and Beltrami (11), St. Louis (eight) and Cass (seven).

Federal funding has ended for the Wildlife Services depredation management program, and the state is readying to resume management of the wolf. Under the state’s plan, property owners in the northeast part of the state could kill wolves if they are an immediate threat to livestock or pets. On the southern and western edges of the state’s 35,000-square-mile wolf range, property owners could kill any wolf on their land.

Crappie contest revived

The Lake Minnetonka crappie fishing contest — for 43 years a harbinger of spring that kicked off the fishing season — is being revived after dying last year.

Minnesota Bound host Ron Schara said he’s bringing the contest back on May 5. It will be dubbed the Minnesota Bounty Lake Minnetonka Crappie Contest.

“It celebrates fishing in this state in a big way,” Schara said, explaining why he decided to revive the event. “It comes when everyone is anticipating the fishing season. It gives us an excuse to get out there and bring our families.”

It again will be based at Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka. Details are still being worked out, but Schara said the entry fee will be $5 and portions of the proceeds will go to charities.

Brainerd fishing

The cold temperatures that blew into Minnesota last week didn’t save the big Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake. The contest — the largest in the state and billed as the largest charitable contest the world — was set for Jan. 21. But officials postponed it until Feb. 11.

The Jaycees said tickets already purchased will be honored on Feb. 11. Refunds will not be issued, but if ticket holders are unable to attend the 2012 event a voucher for the 2013 event will be given.