Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the first time ever, Minnesotans got a chance to hunt wolves over the weekend.
The controversial wolf hunt has been heavily debated by people on both sides of the issue.
On the eve of the hunt, WCCO-TV caught up with life-long hunter Wayne Johnson, a member of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. He had been selected in the lottery to hunt wolves, had even seen one on his trail camera, but wasn’t expecting to get one this past weekend. And he didn’t.
“I expect it to be a tough hunt,” he said. “Luck will be a big factor in it. I don’t expect us to hit quota. I really don’t.”
After the first weekend, less than 60 wolves were shot and the DNR closed the state’s East Central zone, because hunters hit the limit of 9 wolves.
The hunt is just three days old, but critics like Howling For Wolves have been vocal that it should have never started.
“This will be hurtful to all Minnesotans. They should be concerned about whether we are going to kill these wolves and trap them for $26 a license,” said Howling For Wolves founder Maureen Hackett.
There are also gray areas to the wolf hunt, two of which are detailed below.
Wolf Endangers Dog
Dale Finck was grouse hunting last month when Sage, his German shorthaired pointer, came running out of the woods with a wolf on her heels.
“The look in his eyes told me he was going to kill, and I didn’t feel like I had another option,” Finck said.
He didn’t want to, but Finck shot the wolf from just eight yards away.
Wolf Endangers Livestock
Dale Lueck, who runs a cattle company, had a different wolf encounter.
“They were not just there to say hi to those cattle, they were going to kill them,” Lueck said.
Lueck said a couple weeks ago two wolves had a calf in their sights.
“So I busted a shot off from clear up there — and it’s 400 yards– and boy they went right back in the woods,” Lueck said.
He was shooting to scare the wolves off, but due to new legislation, it would have been legal for Lueck to shoot the wolves to protect his livestock. That’s just one of a few scenarios that have now made Minnesota wolves fair game. On a side note: Lueck is running for office.
“I believe they are a great animal,” Johnson said. “I think it is a sustainable resource we should have in this state for many years.”
The DNR said the limit of nine wolves was reached for the East Central Zone for the first of the two-part season, which ends Nov. 18.
The second season of wolf hunting and trapping runs from Nov 24 to Jan. 31.