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Minnesota wolf population stable and healthy

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A gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
In this July 16, 2004 photo, a gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
Dawn Villella | AP file

Wildlife managers say Minnesota's gray wolf population remains stable and healthy.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released its annual estimate Monday. The midwinter survey put the state's population at 2,655 wolves and 465 packs. Given the survey's margin of error, the DNR says that's statistically unchanged from last winter's estimate of 2,856 wolves and 500 packs.

DNR large carnivore specialist Dan Stark says long-term trends demonstrate that Minnesota's wolf population is fully recovered.

The DNR conducts the survey in mid-winter near the low point of the wolves' annual population cycle. The population typically doubles after pups are born in the spring, though many pups don't survive until the next winter.

Minnesota held three wolf hunting seasons before a federal judge in 2014 returned the animals to the federal threatened list.