A grouse hunter on state land 60 miles north of Duluth shot a young wolf threatening his Labrador Retriever, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told Forum News Service.
The officer, Don Bozovsky, told the paper the hunter, only identified as a "young man," fatally shot the wolf after it snapped at his dog. The hunter was reportedly walking on a trail on state land near Aurora Sunday about 3:25 p.m. when his dog encountered the wolf – and out of fear the wolf would attack the dog, he shot it twice with his 12-guage shotgun.
Bozovsky told Forum News Service the hunter called 911 after the shooting to report what happened, and a conservation officer came from Hibbing to investigate the incident.
The hunter avoided charges because it is legal under Minnesota law to shoot a wolf if it poses an immediate threat to the person's domestic animal, Bozovsky says.
"Immediate threat," according to the DNR, "means the observed behavior of a wolf in the act of stalking, attacking, or killing livestock, a guard animal, or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner."
In addition, Minnesota hunters have been allowed to hunt wolves during specific time periods, after the state established wolf hunting and trapping seasons two years ago, after the gray wolf was removed from the federal Endangered Species List.
Despite protests – from groups such as Howling for Wolves and individuals such as Minnesota-born actress Jessica Lange – the hunt was allowed to go on in 2012 and 2013.
In March, however, a the state's Senate Environment and Energy Committee voted to suspend the wolf hunt, the Duluth News Tribune reports. The committee's "Wolf Data Bill" recommended the state suspend the hunt "to study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population and to implement the wolf management plan."
However, the only action regarding wolf hunts passed by the Legislature in the past two years related to reporting population numbers, and an increased penalty for poaching, Howling for Wolves says.