Groups opposing Minnesota's wolf hunt launched a petition drive Wednesday to stop the hunting season set for November. They also pledged not to disrupt the hunt if it happens.
Howling for Wolves is leading the effort to collect more than 50,000 signatures in coming weeks to present to Gov. Mark Dayton. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' own wolf population survey showing a nearly 25 percent decline in the population in five years is reason enough to suspend hunting, Howling for Wolves President Maureen Hackett said.
Other groups in the campaign include the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club North Star Chapter. Hackett said the full impact of last year's hunt still isn't completely understood.
"We're asking the governor and the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to take this scientific uncertainty seriously and suspend the upcoming wolf hunt," Hackett added.
Advocates said the loss of breeding wolves during the hunting season could affect the overall population.
"Reproduction will decline significantly," said Howard Goldman, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "And most troubling of all is that we may not know the full impact on the packs for several years."
DNR researchers have said the state's population can sustain a hunt.
News of the signature campaign followed the publishing Monday of a manual on how to disrupt wolf hunts and sabotage traps.
The group Earth First! posted the manual online, saying direct action was needed in states that allow the hunting of wolves.
Hackett said her group would never endorse the tactics and is focused on lawful citizen action.
The DNR has said 3,300 wolf hunting licenses will be available this year and the agency will allow up to 220 wolves to be killed. Last year about 400 wolves were killed and 6,000 licenses were distributed.
The DNR's population survey showed about 2,921 wolves in 2008 compared to 2,211 last winter.