State could see its first sanctioned wolf hunt

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Up to 400 Minnesota wolves could be hunted or trapped late this year, if a wolf hunting season proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources becomes law.

The House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee heard a proposal laying out a wolf hunting season. No action was taken. “There’s nothing cooler than the spine-tingling sound of a pack of wolves way, way out around you walking out in a full moon, and they begin to converge,” said the committee’s chair, Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who supports the proposed hunting season.

The proposal is reflected by HF1856, sponsored by Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake). Dill lives in the northeastern part of the state roamed by the gray wolf, which was removed from the federal endangered species list in late 2011. The bill is expected to get a formal hearing in committee this session.

“I have a fair amount of experience in hunting wolves — in Canada, of course,” Dill said.

The state begins managing its wolf population Jan. 27, after the federal delisting. Dill’s bill is a reaction to the federal delisting and growth of Minnesota’s gray wolf population to nearly 3,000.

The 400-wolf harvest represents just over 13 percent of Minnesota’s wolf population.

The bill was opposed during the hearing by the Humane Society of the United States and the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter. DNR proposal provides for up to 6,000 hunting or trapping licenses, which would allow each license holder to take one wolf. The DNR has proposed a $50 license fee for state residents, compared to the $38 resident license fee in Dill’s bill.

There is no Senate companion.