Despite opposition, wolf hunt to go on as planned
St. Paul — Anyone who expected an outpouring of support for the state’s upcoming wolf hunting and trapping seasons may be disappointed.
About 80 percent of the 7,351 people who responded to the DNR’s online survey about the wolf season said they opposed it. Of those who took the survey, 1,542 people supported it.
The survey period ended June 20. The DNR intends to use the input as it finalizes plans for this fall’s seasons.
“We had a pretty well thought-out and deliberate process of developing our draft season, and I think it’s pretty solid,” Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief, said. “I wouldn’t anticipate many changes.”
And even if there are some changes, this much is clear: People who oppose the hunt in its entirety will be disappointed.
“The season is mandated by law and signed by the governor,” Simon said. “We will have a wolf season and it will start with the opening day of the (firearms) deer season.”
That date is Saturday, Nov. 3.
Other details of the season could change. DNR officials hope to post summaries of the comments, as well as a final wolf-season framework, on the agency’s website this week.
The DNR initially proposed a wolf season that opens Nov. 3 – as required by law – and closes Nov. 11 in the rifle areas of Zone 2, and Nov. 18 in the rifle areas of Zone 1. Hunters during the early season would have a 200-wolf quota.
A second season, which would include hunting and trapping, would open Saturday, Nov. 24 and run through Jan. 6, 2013. The quota for that season also would be 200 wolves, though any animals not taken during the early season would be added to the late season quota. The late season would end Jan. 6 or when the quota is reached.
The agency proposed offering 6,000 wolf licenses via lottery. Trappers would be eligible for at least 600. There would be 3,600 licenses available to early season hunters and 1,800 for late-season hunters.
Before the survey was available, DNR officials made clear they weren’t using the survey to decide if there would be a season, but rather to gather ideas on how to improve the agency’s proposal. While officials say they’ll read and summarize all of the comments they received, they will focus in particular on those people who supported the season and offered their opinions on its details.
“Our clear intent on this was to gauge or get input from hunters and trappers on these details,” Simon said. “Of those 1,542 people who said they supported the season, we will look at every response to see if there’s anything in there that is a consistent pattern and that makes sense so we can adapt our season.”
And officials still maintain this first season – whatever the exact details of it are – is something of an experiment.
“People have to be patient and understand this is just the first season,” Simon said. “Our whole intent of this season is to gather information” on such particulars as notifying hunters and trappers when the quota has been met; hunter interest; and success rates.
“It’s really a season to gather information,” he added.
Back before committee?
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, believes the wolf season will come before his committee again next year.
“It’s pretty much a given,” he said.
DNR officials believe the same.
Between now and next session, the agency will gather a wide variety of new information. There will be the results of the hunting and trapping season, but also a revised estimate of the state’s wolf population. The agency also plans to collect additional information by mailing surveys to hunters and trappers.
“About this time next year, we likely will be talking about revisions to the seasons – quotas and (hunter) levels and season structure – that will probably set the course for the long term,” Simon said.