Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Legislative hearing on wolf season set for Jan. 28

Wolf season closes in Northeast Zone

St. Paul — The DNR last week closed the Northeast Zone to wolf hunting and trapping, with hunters and trappers meeting – and then exceeding, by four – the target of 33 wolves.

Both the East-Central and the Northwest zones remain open (and anyone with an unused wolf tag can hunt or trap in them). The quota in the East-Central Zone is 10 wolves – three had been taken as of earlier this week. The quota in the Northwest Zone is 89 – 66 had been taken as of earlier this week.

During last year’s inaugural season, the late season in the East-Central Zone was the first to close, doing so after 18 days. The Northeast Zone closed after 22 days, and the Northwest Zone closed after 41 days.

The Northeast Zone this year closed after 19 days. While the harvest was smaller this year, so, too, was the quota and the number of people with wolf hunting and trapping licenses.

DNR officials have said they are taking a conservative approach to the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season.

“For the future of wolf hunting and wolf trapping, that’s probably a very good approach,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

After wolf hunters and trappers last year killed 413 wolves, the DNR this year slashed the target harvest to 220 animals.

During the early hunting season, which began with the firearms deer opener and concluded Nov. 25, hunters killed 32 wolves in the Northeast Zone (the target was 33); none in the East-Central Zone; and 56 in the Northwest Zone (the target was 73).

While there remains an undercurrent of consternation about wolf hunting and trapping, the season overall seems to be more routine the second time around.

“In my mind, there’s been just about zero controversy,” said Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake. “I’m thrilled to be a part of assisting the DNR with the ongoing management of the wolf, and I think they are – by and large – on the right track.”
Said MDHA’s Johnson: “The most important part of this whole thing is continued management. We’re not saying to wipe them out. We want a healthy wolf population. But a healthy population is fewer wolves than we have right now.”

There’s an opposing viewpoint to that, of course, and Dill – who chairs the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee – plans to give those who hold it a chance to express it at a legislative hearing set for Jan. 28.

Dill, who’s a supporter of the wolf season, said some people don’t believe there was enough public testimony before the Legislature created the wolf season.

“They want to testify on why there should not be a wolf season,” he said.

In Dill’s mind, there was plenty of opportunity for people to testify in favor of the season or against it. He doesn’t expect to hear anything new during the hearing.

“When you take public testimony and people get up and present the same message over and over and there’s no new information, you really don’t have any basis or grounds to consider change,” Dill said. “I suspect – and I could be wrong – that the testimony we are going to hear is the same testimony” that’s already been heard.

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