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Minnesota’s wolves: Dead or alive?

CHISHOLM, Minn. — The ink to delist the gray wolf from the endangered species list has barely dried on the paper. Already the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the state Legislature have plans to open a sport hunting and trapping season on the wolf. The DNR is backtracking on earlier promises to keep wolves on a five year watch list after removal from endangered designation.Wolf as an endangered species

The gray wolf was placed on the endangered species list following passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. Minnesota was the last of the lower 48 states to retain a wolf population. An estimated 350 to 700 wolves were surviving in the area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Superior National Forest, while a few isolated packs remained in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. In 1978, Minnesota’s wolves were downgraded to “threatened” in order to allow federal agencies to kill problem wolves.

Under the ESA, the wolf population was able to increase. During this same time, DNR policies have favored maintenance of a large deer population. The DNR receives much of its income from the sale of hunting licenses. According to 2010 statistics, with approximately one million deer in the state, 800,000 deer hunting licenses are sold each year, and an average of 240,000 deer are taken…

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