Reporting Holly Wagner
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The state’s first wolf hunt gets underway Saturday, and the protests are continuing to the very last day.
Wolves came off the state’s endangered list last January. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the hunt is needed for the preservation of the wolf population, which it says can double in a year.
It set a quota of 400 wolves, which includes an “early hunting season” starting Saturday.
Protesters who are adamantly against the first wolf hunt gathered at Minnesota DNR Friday morning to voice their displeasure about the upcoming hunting season. About 50 to 75 people gathered outside DNR headquarters to make their voices heard.
“It’s very bad for our society when we have so many people who value wolves who’ve worked so hard to keep them from going extinct, to trap them brutally, kill them and to have fun doing it, doing it for sport,” said Maureen Hackett with Howling for Wolves.
The group Howling for Wolves chose the area near DNR headquarters to let the public know how the hunt will have harmful effects on the state’s wolf population. Some protesters held signs of bloodied wolves in traps, others wore masks and others are calling the hunt torture and a slaughter.
Hackett said the hunt isn’t only cruel, but it’s hurtful to Native American tribes who see the wolf as a sacred animal.
DNR officials said they are committed to the survival of wolves species and said the hunt will not affect their efforts at preservation. A lawsuit aiming to stop the wolf hunt is currently stuck in the Minnesota Court of Appeals and likely won’t be addressed until sometime next year.
Dan Stark a wolf specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, says he expects hunters will take about 70 wolves in the early season.
Wisconsin hunters and trappers have taken more than 40 wolves since their season opened Oct. 15.
Wolf hunting opponents lost when they went to court to try to block Minnesota’s season. Howling for Wolves plans to protest outside DNR headquarters in St. Paul Friday and at Lake Superior Plaza West in Duluth Saturday.
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