Cook County News Herald

DNR announces higher wolf, lower deer hunting limit

With the winter survey showing Minnesota’s gray wolf population stable, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced it would add 500 more wolf hunting licenses this season, up from 3,300 last year.

This will be the third wolf hunting season for Minnesota. The first occurred in 2012 soon after the wolf was taken off the federal Endangered Species List that protected it from recreational hunting.

Starting August 1, hunters and trappers can apply for one of the 3,800 permits that will be sold in 2014. There is a $4 application fee and licenses are awarded through a lottery system.

This year the DNR set the number of wolves to be taken at 250, thirty more than the total of 220 last year. While this is an increase, it isn’t as high as the 2012 season when the state issued 6,000 hunting permits and 413 wolves were killed.

In a press release Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist, said, “We will continue to evaluate the wolf population annually to ensure the wolf population remains well established across northern and central Minnesota.”

Stark added, “Estimates show a stable population with no significant change from the 2013 estimate of 2,211 wolves.”

While some groups have cheered the increased quota, Howling for Wolves president Dr. Maureen Hackett responded with this on-line comment, “There is no good justification for a recreational wolf hunt in Minnesota. Most Minnesotans don’t want a wolf hunt, and the hunt itself on these recently-endangered animals creates chaos for their packs which in turn creates unpredictable results for wolves, livestock and farmers.”

Hackett lamented the ways in which wolves are taken. “This wolf hunt, which uses cruel methods of trapping and snaring, also kills non-targeted animals like dogs…The vast majority of the public opposes the trapping, snaring and baiting (with distressed pup calls to kill wolves). We call on the MN DNR to refocus on the original management plan for wolves that was intended to protect the animals.”

The Grand Portage and Fond du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa are also opposed to the wolf hunt because they view the wolf as a sacred animal.

Gray wolves, or common wolves, range in length from 4½ feet to 6 feet and weigh from 80 to 200 pounds. While not particularly fast, they have incredible stamina and run for hours at a time. They eat small animals like beavers and rodents but will also take down moose and deer. With large feet and webbing in between their toes they can usually stay on top of the snow in the winter, giving them a hunting advantage.

Although referred to as gray, they can be brown, black, gray, white, red or a mix of various colors and shadings.

Estimates by DNR wildlife researchers show the state has 470 wolf packs and an estimated 2,423 wolves. That is an increase of 212 wolves over last year’s survey.

Once again there will be a two-part season, the first running concurrently with the deer hunting season (Nov. 8-23) and the second trapping season running from Nov. 29 to Jan. 31. The seasons will close earlier if hunters reach the harvest quotas set.

Minnesota residents selected for the hunt will pay $30 for a license while non-residents will be charged $250 to hunt or trap wolves.

In 2013 some 3,434 hunters and trappers killed 237 wolves, 17 more than the goal set by the DNR. Fewer deer for hunters in 2014

Cook County deer hunters will only be allowed to shoot bucks and take only one deer in this upcoming deer-hunting season.

Last Wednesday, July 23, the DNR announced plans to scale back deer hunting across most of the state. The move came on the heels of back-toback hard winters that thinned the deer herd and from listening to hunters in several sessions in which hunters advocated for a reduced hunt in order to restore the deer population.

In 69 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters will be chosen in a lottery to shoot antlerless deer. In Northeastern Minnesota’s 14 areas—including Cook County—hunters can only shoot one buck. In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck.

One exception is the Duluth area where hunters will be allowed to purchase up to four extra permits and take up to five deer to thin the overcrowding.

This will be the first time since 1997 that the state will have so many areas with a bucks-only permit. In the past hunters were often allowed to take several deer per year, but this season hunters will only be allowed to harvest one deer in 95 percent of the state.

Last year 173,000 deer were taken by Minnesota hunters. It was the lowest harvest since 1998. The record was set in 2003 when 290,000 deer were killed.

Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations manager said that the most conservative deer hunting season in years will help the deer population rebound quickly.

Last year 400,000 hunters took to the woods and while Merchant expects a reduction in hunters, he doesn’t expect a dramatic drop.

Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader said, “Many hunters voiced concerns about deer densities and their hunting experiences in recent years. We heard from hunters at the listening sessions we conducted, in online comments and by contacting us directly. This past winter only added to those concerns so this year’s conservative approach will protect more antlerless deer, reduce the statewide harvest and allow the population to rebound.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.