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Early end for state's second wolf hunt

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Minnesota's second wolf hunting season has closed more than a month ahead of schedule.

The Associated Press reported that the season was to run through Jan. 31, or until the target harvest was reached. The season ended Saturday after hunters killed a total of 237 wolves. That number exceeds the target harvest of 220 wolves that was set by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that Minnesota’s wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter. The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population. Hunters and trappers killed 413 animals last year, when the target harvest was 400.

"They are not absolute numbers, just targets," DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark said. "A few wolves over or under (the targets) isn't critical."

The department issued 3,300 wolf licenses this season, about half as many as in the inaugural hunt.

Minnesota's wolf season is split into two, with an early season that coincides with the firearms deer season, and a late hunting and trapping season. Hunters killed 88 wolves in the early season and 149 wolves in the late season.

The DNR will assess Minnesota’s wolf population this winter before setting guidelines for the 2014 wolf season.

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