No public meetings for wolf hunting season

St. Paul — DNR officials earlier this week outlined their plans for the state’s first-ever regulated hunting and trapping seasons for wolves, set for later this year.

Though there are no public meetings planned, the agency is taking public comments online through June 20.

The agency is proposing a two-part season – one that opens and closes with the firearms deer season (per legislation approved during the recent session), and another, designed for people who target wolves specifically, that opens in later November.

A total of 6,000 licenses would be available; 3,600 during the early season and 2,400 during the late season. The quota would be 400 wolves total.

“This is a very conservative first step,” Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations program manager, said during a media call Monday.

In response to a question about whether officials believe hunters and trappers will reach the quota, Merchant said it “would just be speculation on our part.”

There are many unknowns, he said, though success rates for wolf hunters tend to be low.

Northern Minnesota hunters – those hunting in the rifle areas of zones 1 and 2 – would get the first crack at wolves. The season would open Saturday, Nov. 3, and remain open through Nov. 11 in Zone 2, Nov. 18 in Zone 1.

The early season quota would be 200 wolves. The season would close when that quota is reached, or when the deer season closes, whichever is first.

The late-season quota also would be 200 wolves, though if hunters don’t reach the quota in the early season, the remainder of the quota would be available during the late season. (So if early season hunters kill 150, for example, there would be 250 wolves available during the late season.)

The late season, which would include hunting and trapping and is the same as the state’s bobcat season, would run from Nov. 24 through Jan. 6. It would close earlier if the 400-wolf quota is reached.

The late season would be open statewide.

At least one-quarter – 600 – of the late-season licenses would be available for trappers. Trapping licenses, which will be available to residents only, will cost $30.

Resident hunting licenses also are $30; nonresident licenses are $250. Nonresidents would have access to 5 percent of the hunting licenses. Party hunting would not be allowed.

All hunters and trappers will have to apply for a license, and the application deadline will be Sept. 6. The application fee is $4.

“We certainly anticipate that more than 6,000 people will apply, so it will be through a lottery,” Merchant said.

Officials said the public input process is online-only because of the short timeframe in which to finalize the season.

Other wolf season notes

  • Officials do not have plans for stepped-up enforcement during the deer season, since all officers are in the field at that time anyway. “We’re not anticipating any problems,” said Col. Jim Konrad, director of the DNR Enforcement Division.
  • The DNR continues to consult tribal governments about their plans, but “I’m unaware at this time of any tribes that have elected to hunt wolves,” Merchant said.
  • Hunters and trappers will have to register wolves by the end of the day after the day of harvest. Registration can be done in person, or via the phone or Internet.
  • Party hunting is not allowed for wolves. Groups of up to four people may apply as a single group and may assist another wolf hunter, but may not shoot or tag a wolf for each other.
  • Merchant said he’s unaware “of any impending litigation at this time.”
  • Hunters and trappers are responsible for checking to make sure the season remains open.
  • Wolf carcasses must be surrendered to collect biological data.
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