LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION
By DAN GUNDERSON
Wolf hunting will not take place in Minnesota this year. Officials say they need at least until next spring to complete a management plan.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials told a July 7 meeting of the 20-member wolf plan advisory committee (WPAC) there would be no decision on holding a wolf hunt this year.
Members of the advisory committee represent a wide range of interests including hunting and trapping, wolf advocacy, agriculture, environmental protection and local governments.
“We reiterated to the WPAC that there would be no decision on a wolf season prior to the completion of the wolf plan update,” said Dan Stark, DNR wolf management specialist. “We anticipate the completion of the wolf plan process in early 2022.”
In a statement, the DNR said revising the wolf management plan will taken longer than anticipated, until March 2022. Work on updating the 20-year-old plan started in 2019.
“We will use our updated plan as we determine whether and how to use various management tools to ensure continuation of a healthy and sustainable wolf population in Minnesota. Consideration of whether to hold hunting or trapping seasons will be guided by the updated plan,” according to the statement.
When federal protections for the wolf were removed in 2011, the state moved quickly to authorize wolf hunts in 2012, 2013 and 2014, despite a plan that called for a five-year study. A federal judge reinstated protection for wolves under the Endangered Species Act late in 2014.
Federal protections for gray wolves ended in late 2020, just days before the Nov. 3 election.
Deer hunters and livestock farmers strongly support a wolf hunting season to control the population of the apex predators. Environmental groups oppose any hunting or trapping season, as do Ojibwe Nations in Minnesota, who consider wolves sacred.
Gov. Tim Walz previously said he opposes a wolf hunting season in the state.
Center for Biological Diversity Carnivore Conservation Director Collette Adkins directs carnivore conservation at the Center for Biological Diversity, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz. She’s a member of the wolf plan advisory committee.
“What a huge relief that the Minnesota DNR is committed to being more thoughtful about this process,” Adkins said. “Making sure that there is adequate involvement for the public to weigh in, taking the time to have meaningful consultation with the Tribes. This is a big deal.”