Friday, February 22, 2013

Minnesota bill calls for 5-year moratorium on wolf hunting, trapping

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2013

Hunting and trapping wolves in Minnesota would be prohibited for at least five years under a bill introduced this week at the Legislature. Even after a five-year moratorium, a wolf hunting season would only be allowed if population management is “deemed necessary” and other means for controlling the wolf population are explored.

But the bill’s chance of passage appears to be a long shot; the law opening wolves to hunting and trapping last year passed with bipartisan support. And it might face an especially difficult time in the House, where it likely would have to clear the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee chaired by Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, a wolf hunt proponent. “I don’t expect any changes [to the wolf season] because it was such a great success,” Dill said last month.

No companion bill has been introduced in the House.

Still, the bill’s chief sponsor, Majority Whip Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, is optimistic. “The people of Minnesota don’t want the wolves hunted,” she said. “We have bipartisan support.” Hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves, and state and federal trappers killed another 283 wolves in response to livestock depredations. Citizens protecting livestock or pets killed 16 wolves, bringing the total kill last year to 712.

“I have a real concern about the sustainability of the gray wolf with that kind of a hunting season,” Eaton said. State and federal wildlife biologists have said the wolf population won’t be hurt by those losses, and the population is expected to remain steady at around 3,000.