Do dropping numbers of wolves in Minnesota change your view on the hunt?

Minnesota's wolf population has dropped by about 24 percent since 2008, according to new survey numbers released Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources, writes MPR News reporter Elizabeth Dunbar.

The new numbers likely mean fewer wolves will be allowed to be killed during the next hunting season this fall and winter, said Dan Stark, the DNR's large carnivore specialist. Despite new survey numbers showing the state had an estimated 2,211 wolves last winter, or 710 fewer than five years ago, Stark said the state's wolf population remains strong.

"The wolf population is still widely distributed, and we've actually seen some slight range expansion," he said. "We still have a robust wolf population here in Minnesota, and we can manage a regulated hunting and trapping season without having a long-term negative influence on the population."

Last year during the state's inaugural hunting season, the DNR allowed about 400 wolves, or 13 percent of the previous population estimate, to be killed. Stark said the DNR is still finalizing plans for the next hunting season, but he said it will be similar, meaning the overall quota would go down. The DNR expects to announce details on the season later this month.

"Opponents of hunting and trapping the once-endangered species immediately pounced on the news, vowing to increase pressure to cancel this fall's hunting and trapping season, which would be the second regulated hunt in the state's history," writes Pioneer Press reporter Dave Orrick.

Meanwhile in Montana, Yellowstone park officials are fighting efforts to increase the numbers of the gray wolf permits.

AP: A proposal to relax the rules on gray wolf hunting and trapping in Montana got a cool reception from Yellowstone National Park administrators who said Monday the move appears to be aimed at substantially reducing the population of the animals in the park.

Wolves regularly cross from the hunting-free safe haven of Yellowstone into Montana, where wildlife officials want to drive down pack numbers in response to complaints from ranchers and big-game hunters about the wolf.

Today's Question: Do dropping numbers of wolves in Minnesota change your view on the hunt?

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