23,000 apply for wolf tags in Minnesota

Grand Rapids, Minn. — The DNR received nearly four times as many applications for wolf-hunting and trapping licenses as are available for the inaugural seasons later this year.

Hunters and trappers – 23,477 of them – from Minnesota and 33 other states applied for a license. A total of 6,000 licenses will be given out.

DNR officials say that’s about the number they expected, while others thought it would be higher.

“I was unabashed in saying it would be 100,000 people,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. “For whatever reason, we got a quarter of that. It surprised the heck out of me.”

The first wolf season is set for Nov. 3-11 in Series 200 deer permit areas, and Nov. 3-18 in Series 100 areas. Late hunting and trapping seasons run Nov. 24 though Jan. 31.

There were 12,067 applications for the early hunting season; 7,621 for the late hunting season; and 3,789 for the trapping season.

A total of 3,600 licenses will be given out for the early season; 2,400 for the late season. Of those, at least 600 will be for trappers. Not more than 5 percent of the hunting licenses will be given to out-of-state applicants. Licenses will cost residents $30, while nonresidents will pay $250.

While applications came in from across the nation, hunters in states surrounding Minnesota sought the most: North Dakota (74); Wisconsin (66); South Dakota (27); and Iowa (25).

Lottery applicants will be notified if they were successful by the middle of October, though DNR officials hope it’s even sooner.

The statewide wolf-harvest quota is 400 animals. Johnson, who applied for a late-season hunting license, figures part of the reason applications were lower than he expected was that hunters made a realistic assessment of their chances at killing a wolf.

“Maybe we’ve got the better, more dedicated and seasoned applicants,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s going to make a lot of difference. I don’t think we’re going to see 400 wolves taken. I’d love to be wrong.”

While many of the people who applied for an early season hunting license likely are deer hunters who just want the opportunity to kill a wolf if they see one, the latter hunting and trapping seasons are designed for people specifically seeking wolves.

“You have more time to do it,” said Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist. “Conditions are better for trying to figure out some patterns that wolves might be using, by using tracks and sign and things like that.”

Pelts won’t be fully prime by the time the hunt begins, but Stark expects most hunters and trappers will mount any wolves they take, or prepare the hide to display on the wall or as a rug.

“I expect most of them will be used for personal use,” he said. “The first year, it’s mainly people who have an interest in hunting and trapping that want a wolf hide or skin for themselves. With a limit of one, it’s likely not something they are going to be selling.”

The DNR has set harvest targets for each of the state’s three wolf zones. Targets in the East-Central and Northeast zones – 18 and 117, respectively – could be reduced if tribal authorities in those areas decide to allow their members to take wolves.

“No tribes have made that declaration yet,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife population and regulation program manager for the DNR.

Damage payments

Minnesota has paid out a record $154,136 to residents whose livestock or pets were killed by wolves in the past year, part of a gradual upward trend also seen in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Those are all states where the gray wolf came off the endangered list in January.

Wisconsin update

A total of 20,272 people applied for one of the 1,160 licenses the Wisconsin DNR will give out for that state’s wolf season, which kicks off Oct. 15. As in Minnesota, most of those who applied in Wisconsin were state residents – 19,788. Wolf licenses in Wisconsin are $100 for residents and $500 for nonresidents.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved a quota of up to 201 wolves that could be harvested during the first season, 85 of which are reserved for Native American Indian tribes within the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin DNR.

Elsewhere

Late last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced wolves had recovered in Wyoming and would be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The state of Wyoming is set to take management responsibilities on Sept. 30.

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