Minn. senators call for moratorium on wolf hunt


A group of influential Minnesota senators introduced legislation Thursday that would restore a five-year moratorium on sport hunting and trapping of wolves, the Pioneer Press.

Lawmakers lifted the moratorium when they authorized the first-ever state managed wolf hunt last year when wolves came off the list for federal protection, according to Maureen Hackett, founder of Howling for Wolves.

Opponents of the hunt argue the state should have waited longer before allowing people to hunt wolves, MPR reports.

"Rushing to a recreational wolf hunt immediately following their delisting from federal protections is not in the best interest of our state and it does not reflect our state's values," Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and wolf biologists have said the hunt will have no impact on the long-term viability of the state’s wolf population.

Hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves during the season and another 298 were killed for predator control last year.

While 50 of the 201 lawmakers are newly elected, the Duluth News Tribune says it's not clear if the Legislature has changed enough to end the season.

Sponsors of the bill include Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka and Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul.

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals will not block Minnesota's wolf hunt scheduled for Nov. 3. The three-judge panel said The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves failed to show that the season would cause irreparable harm. About 6,000 hunters will receive permits for the first ever organized wolf hunt in the state. Experts say wolves are much smarter than deer or ducks and it's unlikely Minnesota will reach their target harvest of 400 wolves.

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Minnesota hunters have killed at least 110 wolves in the first eight days of the state's highly controversial wolf hunt, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The statewide quota for the early hunting season is 200 wolves, which runs through Nov. 18 or until hunters reach the limit.

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.