by Laurel Beager, Editor
Minnesota’s population of wolves will transition from federal protection to state management by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Friday, bringing with that transition a number of law changes.
We urge everyone interested in the issue to become familiar with the state’s plan to ensure that they understand how wolf and human encounters should be handled.
Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan will protect wolves and monitor their population, but also give owners of livestock and domestic pets more protection from wolf depredation. The plan splits the state into two management zones, with more protective regulations in the northern third, considered the wolf’s core range.
Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director, said the DNR is well-prepared to manage gray wolves and ensure the long-term survival of the species. The plan, he says, gives Minnesotans more flexibility to address the real conflicts that occur between wolves and humans.
Key to Boggess’ statement is that people truly understand what constitutes “real conflicts” between wolves and humans.
The Wolf Management Plan has provisions for taking wolves that are posing risks to livestock and domestic pets. Owners of livestock, guard animal or domestic animals may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to their animals on property they own or lease, in accordance with local statutes.
“Immediate threat” means observing a gray wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock, a guard animal or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner. In addition, the owner of a domestic pet may shoot or destroy a gray wolf posing an immediate threat on any property, as long as the owner is supervising the pet. Similar to federal regulations, Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan allows anyone to take a wolf to defend human life.
In all cases, a person shooting or destroying a gray wolf under these provisions must protect all evidence and report the taking to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours.
Humans, wolves and other animals — wild and domestic — have been cohabitating for years in northern Minnesota. The future should be no different. Each is critical to the lifestyle we enjoy here. Humans that live where wolves live should take some time to get familiar with the plan.