2nd phase of wolf hunt gets under way

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The second phase of Minnesota's first managed wolf hunt got under way Saturday.

In a late season that runs through the end of January, about 1,600 hunters and nearly 800 trappers are licensed to pursue wolves in three zones in northern Minnesota.

Brice Vollbrecht, a DNR conservation officer in the Bemidji region, said the late wolf season will keep him busy checking to make sure hunters and trappers are following regulations.

"It's something new for us," Vollbrecht said. "It's something we haven't had. There hasn't been wolf hunting or trapping since the '70s, so most guys haven't gone through it, and we don't know what to expect yet."

Late season trappers can use either foothold traps or snares to catch wolves. They must check their traps daily and must report their kills to the DNR.

The agency has set an overall limit of 400 wolves. That includes 147 wolves that were killed in an early season that ended last weekend. The DNR will close the season early if the limit is reached.

DNR wolf expert Dan Stark said late season hunters will likely pursue wolves more directly than early season hunters who hunted them concurrently with the deer hunt.

"That might include more baiting or trying to call wolves," Stark said. "And conditions might be better for that if there's more snow on the ground where they can track wolves and maybe more predictably determine what patterns and areas they're using."

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