Is Minnesota’s wolf season too conservative?

The Minnesota DNR makes no bones about the fact that its wolf hunting and trapping season is a conservative one, and one that it says won’t negatively affect the state’s wolf population.

But the question some people have been asking for years is if the DNR’s estimation of the state’s wolf population is correct (about 2,400 this past winter). Expect those questions to grow even louder now that the seasons in the Northeast and Northwest wolf zones in the state are done. (The season in the East Central Zone, where the target harvest is nine, ends at the end of shooting hours today.)

During the late hunting and trapping season, it took hunters and trappers in the Northeast Zone just six days to reach – and exceed – the late-season quota. (The target harvest was 35; they killed 41.) And in the Northwest Zone, where the season closed after 11 days, hunters and trappers killed 103 wolves (the target harvest was 82).

In both zones, hunters and trappers met the target harvests in record time.

Now, there could be many explanations for why that happened (more collective experience among the state’s wolf trappers, in particular, or that people set their traps right away this year). But don’t tell that to all the deer hunters who reported seeing more wolves than deer during this year’s firearms season.

The DNR walks a fine line when it comes to the wolf season. Some people wouldn’t be happy until every wolf was gone, while others believe wolves deserve presidential-type protection.

The agency has done a good job managing wolves to this point. But given the results of this year’s season (late season, in particular), expect both sides of the wolf debate to put even more pressure on the DNR to change things.

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