GRAND RAPIDS. -- More than 15,000 people have applied for licenses to hunt or trap wolves in Minnesota this fall, said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Grand Rapids. That total is up from about 13,000 last year, but down from about 26,000 in 2012, the first year of Minnesota's formal wolf season.

This fall, the number of licenses available to hunters and trappers is 3,800, up from 3,300 last year. The state will allow 250 wolves to be killed before the season is closed, up from 220 last year. The state's wolf population is estimated at 2,423 and is considered stable by the DNR. An estimated 470 wolf packs roam the state's wolf range.

The first 2014 hunting season will run Nov. 8-23, concurrent with the firearms deer season in 100 Series units. A second hunting -- and trapping -- season is set for Nov. 29 to Jan. 31. The seasons will close early if harvest quotas are reached.

Of the 3,800 licenses available, 2,300 will be available to hunters in the early hunting season. In the late season, 765 licenses will be available to hunters, and 735 will be available to trappers. The number of hunting and trapping licenses for the later season is in proportion to how many people applied for hunting or trapping licenses, Stark said. Most early-season hunters participate in that hunt on an opportunistic basis while they hunt deer, according to the DNR.

Minnesota's wolves were removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in early 2012. Minnesota's wolf season, set by the Legislature, has been vigorously opposed by some groups.
A total of 150 wolves may be harvested during Wisconsin's wolf hunting and trapping season, which runs from Oct. 15 to Feb. 28 or until the quota is reached.