Wolf hunting season might be on the way out in Minnesota…
The State’s House of Representatives moved to ban recreational trapping and hunting of gray wolves earlier this week, and the bill passed through with a 69 to 59 vote. The proposal was included as an amendment to an already extensive environmental spending bill.
Now the bill moves to the State Senate, and if it were to be approved there, the ban could prevent the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) from having a say in how to control the wolf population.
As of right now the MDNR regulates wolf hunting and trapping based on whether or not the animal is underneath federal protection or removed from the ESL (Endangered Species List).
If it is the latter, the wolves are considered fair game during the established season as long as they are not considered endangered.
Since the wolves are currently protected at the federal level, there is no hunting or trapping season for them in the State of Minnesota.
With the current rules in place, if the gray wolf is taken off the endangered list, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would be allowed to set out seasons for wolf hunting and trapping. The ban that is now heading to the Minnesota State Senate would effectively stop the MDNR from controlling that.
Obviously, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (the authority on wolf management) is not happy.
A statement from Gail Nosek, an MDNR spokesperson speaking on behalf of the agency, told MPR News:
“In light of the robust, science-based plan we have in place, we do not support legislation that includes mandates or restricts the methods by which the Minnesota DNR manages wolves.
Responsible fish and wildlife conservation requires that a full complement of management tools be available to the agency.”
Seems pretty reasonable to me.
Based on MDNR wolf population estimates, Minnesota is home to around 2,700 wolves, which is well above the United States Fish and Wildlife’s recovery goal.
The state is clearly doing well with their own wolf conservation, as they have more wolves in their state alone than Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana do combined.
The numbers are pretty telling comparative to their Rocky Mountain State neighbors, who actually still have wolf hunting and trapping seasons.