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Minnesota Senate committee votes to suspend wolf hunt

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A state Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday to put Minnesota’s wolf hunt on hold, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The "Wolf Data Bill," passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, would suspend the hunt “to study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population and to implement the wolf management plan,” according to its wording.

Minnesota established wolf hunting and trapping seasons two years ago, after the gray wolf was removed from the federal Endangered Species List. Some opponents have filed lawsuits to stop the hunt but have not prevailed in court, according to the News Tribune.

The bill would require the Department of Natural Resources to conduct an annual wolf census and map out areas of the state where wolves are a threat to livestock, MPR News reports.

The bill would also require the DNR to assess public opinion on hunting wolves, and would close tribal lands to the hunting and trapping of wolves if tribal leadership requests it.

“The wolf data bill is an alternative proposal that addresses common-sense concerns with Minnesota’s wolf population and wolf hunt,” Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling For Wolves, said in a statement. “It directs the Minnesota DNR to gather better information that is needed to understand our wolves with sound, scientific methods.”

DNR officials have said they already keep closer tabs on wolves than most other species, according to MPR.

Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, voiced his opposition to the measure, according to the News Tribune.

“We’re adamantly opposed to the legislation,” said Johnson. “It refuses to acknowledge the research and study that’s gone into wolves, not just here in Minnesota but internationally.”

Despite the victory in this committee, the bill is unlikely to pass since wolf hunting has seen substantial support in the Legislature, according to MPR. A companion bill in the House has not seen any action yet.

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Wisconsin opens wolf hunt

Wisconsin's first hunting season since the gray wolf came off the endangered species list begins Monday. Hunters and trappers will be allowed to take 201 wolves by the end of February, although nearly half of those are set aside for tribal members. Unlike their Minnesota counterparts (whose season begins Nov. 3rd), Wisconsinites will be able to hunt at night and use dogs.