Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some Rules for MN Deer Hunters re: Wolves

Almanac: Deer hunters can't take shots at wolves
  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2012
Gray wolf

Photo: Macneill Lyons, Associated Press - Ap
Minnesota deer hunters won't be able to take a shot at wolves they encounter when a wolf hunting season is established later this year.
Officials with the Department of Natural Resources want to run a separate wolf season from late November
-- after the firearms deer season -- through early January, when wolf pelts are prime.
The results: Far fewer wolves likely will be killed.

"We want to be very conservative this inaugural year," said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief. "We don't know what the hunter participation rates or success rates would be."
With 180,000 deer hunters in northern Minnesota alone, officials are concerned that allowing them to also hunt wolves while in their deer stands might result in too many wolves being killed. They are not concerned that hunters could seriously impact the wolf population -- hunting them is extremely difficult and success rates likely will be very low.

The concern is lowering the population, now estimated at about 3,000, to the 1,600 minimum established in the state's wolf-management plan.
"We don't want to do anything to put them back on the endangered species list" and lose state management, said Ed Boggess, DNR fish and wildlife director. Officials also said they want a separate season for wolves to underscore its status.
"This is a trophy animal," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said. "It will be a trophy [hunting] season. It's a highly worthwhile species, not vermin."

But the decision, announced at the agency's annual roundtable meetings with stakeholders over the weekend in St. Paul, won't please some northern deer hunters who believe the wolf population is too high and the deer population too low.
"I think it's totally unwise," said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Without the incidental kill of wolves during the deer season, Johnson expects wolf harvest to be very low.
"I'd be surprised if they take 100," he said.
The DNR intends to impose a quota, and hunters would apply for a limited number of licenses through a lottery. The cost of the license, and the season framework, will be set by the Legislature. The DNR likely will set the quota, but the number hasn't been determined yet. It also intends to allow trapping of wolves.