The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the state’s wolf population has declined slightly from last year, but not enough to be statistically significant.
Two gray wolves recently traversed the frozen Lake Superior surface from Canada to Isle Royale National Park, scientists said Tuesday, but the animals stayed only five days — dashing hopes that ice bridges would induce migrants from the mainland to replenish the island’s lagging wolf population.
Even though more states in the upper Midwest have started wolf hunts, there is a slight increase in the population. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report shows the number of wolves living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan has grown slightly. It found more than 3,700 wolves in the area in the past year.
A Minnesota-based group asked Gov. Mark Dayton to put a stop to the wolf-hunting season Friday afternoon at the State Capitol. The group “Howling for Wolves” says too many wolves are dying, even though the number that hunters can kill in Minnesota was slashed in half this year, compared with 2012. Last year, 413 wolves could be harvested. This year, the number is set at 220. After last year’s season, it was estimated that the state’s wolf population went down by a fourth since 2008, which is why the number of licenses was reduced for 2013.
Minnesota officials said Wednesday that the federal government’s decision to remove the region’s gray wolves from the endangered species list may lead to a hunting and trapping season as early as next fall.