Minnesota ranchers want wolves off endangered list

Gray wolf
Lucas is the dominant male in the pack at the International Wolf Center in Ely.
International Wolf Center, Sherry Jokinen

Minnesota ranchers are concerned about a judge's ruling restoring protections for gray wolves in the state.

Friday's ruling means wolves in Minnesota are considered threatened, and wolf hunting is not allowed. Livestock producers can ask state or federal authorities to kill any wolves threatening their animals but cannot take action on their own unless a wolf is threatening human life.

"We're going to continue to spearhead the initiative to get this reversed and get the wolf hunt back into place because we feel that, for our members, especially in the northern part of the state, that this is a threat to their livestock and a threat to their livelihood," said Ashley Kohls, executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association.

It isn't yet clear what will happen next in the case. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to appeal the judge's ruling.

The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups filed the suit last February. They argued Fish and Wildlife's decision to remove the wolf from endangered species protection threatens the animals' recovery in the Great Lakes region.

The latest DNR population survey estimated Minnesota's wolf population at 470 packs and 2,423 individuals. That's 212 more wolves than estimated last year, but about 500 fewer than the last estimate before hunting began.

MPR News' Dan Kraker contributed to this report.

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