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Bill Would Start Minn. Wolf Season On Deer Opener

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s first wolf hunting season would open at the same time as the state’s main firearms deer season this fall under broad legislation a Minnesota House committee will consider this week.

The session’s main game and fish bill will be sponsored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, who said Monday he would run the wolf season concurrently with the main deer season, instead of starting it afterward as the Department of Natural Resources proposed.

Hackbarth said the other key difference will be that wolf hunting and trapping licenses would cost $26, the same as a deer license, instead of the $50 the DNR recommended. Limiting the fee to $26 will encourage more deer hunters to buy them, he said, but he doubts deer hunters will shoot many more wolves than under the DNR’s original plan because the animals are so wary.

Otherwise, Hackbarth said, his bill will be close to the game and fish bill the DNR proposed earlier, including a quota of 400 wolves and a lottery for awarding licenses. He said the language probably won’t be posted until Wednesday morning.

The federal government took wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list last month and returned responsibility for managing them to the states. Minnesota’s wolf population is estimated at around 3,000, the most in the lower 48 states.

The House environment and natural resources committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Thursday, and its chairman, Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said other committees also will weigh in. McNamara said he and Hackbarth generally want to take a conservative approach, as the DNR has recommended, for the first wolf season.

The corresponding Senate committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on its main game and fish bill.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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