Wolf hunt legislation introduced once more at Minnesota Legislature

People sit in a big meeting room
Hundreds of people crammed into a room at the Four Seasons Sports Complex in Carlton on Dec. 6 for a meeting dubbed "Wolves Versus Deer: Who will win," hosted by the group Hunters For Hunters.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

Bills with bipartisan support to mandate an open wolf season once the gray wolf is federally delisted have once again been introduced at the Minnesota Legislature. They would also establish a deer task force to increase deer populations in the northeast. 

An attempt to approve a wolf hunt failed during the last legislative session. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set the target recovery number for wolves in Minnesota at 1,251-1,400.

The Department of Natural Resources increased that number to 1,600. However, wolf numbers in the state are currently estimated to be between 2,700-2,900 in the wild. Studies on wolves throughout the contingent U.S. show Minnesota wolves are the most genetically diverse.

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Minnesota Deer Hunters Association Executive Director Jared Mazurek said while wolves aren’t the only predators contributing to the declining deer population in the state, they’re not being managed like other wildlife. 

“It’s really time to take action and to start managing the wolf like we do with every other species. I don’t think any species should be exempt from the same management techniques that we apply to every other species,” Mazurek said.

The founder of the Minnesota-based advocacy group Howling for Wolves, Maureen Hackett, said hunting efforts have persisted ever since wolves were put on the endangered list in 1974. 

“This bill is very disappointing, because it clearly shows a misunderstanding of both what a recovered wolf population requires and also what the deer population needs from wolves,” Hackett said. “So, it’s kind of a double whammy.” 

Hackett said in the long term there aren’t enough wolves in the lower 48 to avoid extinction.