Wolf Hunting

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness opposes the wolf hunt established by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) in 2012 and continues to look for ways to stop it.

NMW recognizes that a healthy population of wolves is essential to the ecological health of the Boundary Waters Ecosystem. Wolves are also at the heart of the way humans perceive the BWCAW, and of enormous spiritual and cultural significance to native people of this region.  It is NMW’s position that the killing of wolves should not be allowed within the BWCAW and that there should be no recreational hunting or trapping of wolves in Minnesota.  We support the goal of MNDNR’s Wolf Management Plan to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in the state, and believe it can best be met by protecting wolf habitat, resolving conflicts between humans and wolves in a way that emphasizes public education aimed at avoiding conflicts and, only when necessary, targeting individual “problem” wolves by agents licensed for that purpose.

When wolves were removed from the Federal Endangered Species List in January 2012, it was widely believed that MNDNR would follow its Wolf Management Plan and establish a 5-year moratorium on hunting and trapping.   This was meant to allow time for an accurate census and monitoring of the population, and careful analysis of all relevant factors, including public opinion, before deciding whether to propose an open season on wolves.  Instead, a process based on established ecological and wildlife management principles had been ambushed by politics months earlier when lawmakers inserted language into a budget bill that deleted the provision for the moratorium. This move paved the way for the first regulated wolf season in Minnesota history, which opened less than a year after wolves lost their protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The DNR estimated Minnesota’s 2012-13 mid-winter wolf population at 2,211 wolves, +/- 500.  413 wolves were legally shot and trapped in Minnesota in 2012 and 237 were shot and trapped in 2013 (17 more than the DNR’s “harvest target”).   Minnesota is one of six states where gray wolf protections were eliminated in 2011 and 2012.  According to the Center for Biological Diversity, as of January 2014 more than 2,500 wolves had been killed by hunters and trappers in these states – or roughly half the total known population of gray wolves in the lower 48 states in 2013.