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MN: Minnesota taking public comments on plans for 1st regulated wolf hunting and trapping season

STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota will offer 6,000 hunters and trappers a chance at taking 400 wolves when the state holds its first regulated wolf hunting and trapping season this fall, the Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.

The season will start Nov. 3 when the firearms deer season opens. The DNR has proposed splitting the season into two parts: an early wolf hunting-only season coinciding with the deer season, and a late wolf hunting-and-trapping season after the deer season.

“This is a very conservative first step,” Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife programs manager, told reporters on a conference call.

Minnesota has around 3,000 wolves, and researchers say the population should easily withstand the taking of 400. But Merchant said setting the quota at 400 for now will allow wildlife managers to better gauge hunter and trapper interest and success rates, and allow them to collect data that will help manage the wolf population more effectively in the future.

Licenses will be allocated through a lottery. The DNR plans to offer 3,600 for the early season and 2,400 for the late season. A minimum of 600 late-season licenses will be reserved for trappers. The 400 target will be split between the early and late seasons. If hunters fail to take 200 wolves in the early season, the remainder would be added to the quota for the late season.

The application fee will be $4. Licenses will cost $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Only one wolf can be taken per license.

All wolves must be registered by the day after they are taken. The seasons will close once the quotas are reached.

The DNR will take public comments only through an online survey, which will run through June 20. Merchant said the tight time frame between when Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Legislature’s main game and fish bill and the anticipated Aug. 1 start of the application period left no time for hearings. He said the regulations likely will be finalized shortly after the comment period closes.

Minnesota did not regulate wolf hunting before the animals were put on the federal endangered species list in 1974. The wolf population in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan came off the list in January.