Court hearing today for Minn. wolf hunt

Bryan Heiney and his wolf
Bryan Heiney of Duluth killed this wolf in southern Koochiching County, Minn. in November 2012 in the state's first wolf hunting season in years.
Photo courtesy of Bryan Heiney

The argument over whether the state Department of Natural Resources rushed too fast into a wolf hunting and trapping season gets a court hearing Wednesday.

Last fall the same court denied the groups' request to stop the hunt. Hunters and trappers killed about 400 wolves.

Two groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves, sued the DNR over last fall's inaugural season. They said the agency should have stuck to its original plan that called for a five-year waiting period after the wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List.

Howling for Wolves founder Maureen Hackett said the DNR's online survey was an inadequate substitute for procedures normally required before the state changes public policy.

"I think the DNR should go through regular public comment process, and I think they should listen to the people," Hackett said. "Public comment is to get people's opinion, and I think the DNR understands most don't want a wolf hunt."

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said the Legislature chose an expedited emergency process to set hunting and fishing seasons 20 years ago.

"It's a process that the Legislature has given us," Niskanen said. "There's no public comment period as part of that statute, but certainly the legislative process, committee hearings and the like, does allow for a public comment process."

Niskanen said the rule allows for yearly changes in hunting and fishing rules, and taking public comment would be too time consuming.

Meanwhile, a bill reinstating the originally planned five-year waiting period before the hunt is making its way through the Legislature.

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