Minnesota Wolves at Risk: Defenders Opposes Wolf Hunting and Trapping

(03/11/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife announced today that it strongly opposes a bill approved Wednesday, March 10, by the Minnesota House Agriculture Committee to allow a hunting and trapping season of Minnesota wolves. The bill, introduced by state representative Jim Tunheim (DFL-Kennedy) negates the wolf management plan that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a broad coalition of stakeholders developed after months of intense negotiations. The wolf bill will go to the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee next week.

"Establishing a hunting and trapping season on wolves in Minnesota is not appropriate or justified at this time" said Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen. "A diverse group of citizens representing hunting and trapping interests, farmers, environmentalists, and others agreed on a management plan, and this wasn't it. This legislation subverts the entire public participation process."

The bill changes the management plans in other significant ways, reducing the fine for illegal take of wolves from $2,000 to $250 and loosening restrictions protecting wolves. Most significantly, the bill sets the maximum statewide wolf population goal at 1,600, whereas the citizens roundtable set 1700 as a minimum statewide number. A recent survey of Minnesota's wolf population determined that approximately 2,445 wolves currently roam the state.

"While Defenders has always recognized that professional control of wolves that prey on livestock is a necessary evil, allowing random, non-selective take through public hunting and trapping is a poor wildlife management decision," warned Nina Fascione, Defenders Associate Director of Species Conservation. "We have needed to grant the wolf federal protection under the Endangered Species Act for a quarter of a century, so it is premature to discuss wolf control by these methods, before the species is even delisted."

In 1974 wolves were listed as endangered throughout the lower 48 states except in Minnesota, where they were listed as threatened. Because of increasing wolf populations in Minnesota and neighboring Michigan and Wisconsin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to delist the species within the next year.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270