Lyle Wilson of Pine Island, Minn., became one of the first hunters in Minnesota to register a wolf on Saturday, opening day of Minnesota’s first managed wolf hunt. Wilson registered his wolf at Buck’s Hardware Hank in Grand Marais late Saturday afternoon.
Minnesota’s first wolf season opened concurrently with Minnesota’s firearms deer hunt across Northeastern Minnesota. By 10:45 p.m. Saturday, at least 32 wolves had been registered by hunters, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. That included 16 in Northeastern Minnesota, 12 in northwestern Minnesota and four in east-central Minnesota.
The hunt was authorized by the Minnesota Legislature in its 2012 session, and the legislators determined the Nov. 3 opening date.
A total of 3,600 licensed wolf hunters are taking part in this early wolf hunting season. The DNR is allowing a maximum of 200 wolves to be taken in the early hunt, which continues through Nov. 18 or until the quota is reached.
A second wolf hunting season, along with a trapping season, will begin Nov. 24 and continue through Jan. 31. A total of 2,400 licenses are available for those seasons. That harvest will be capped at 200 wolves, too.
Wilson said he and his hunting partner, Mark Braaten of Pine Island, who also had a wolf license, were hunting about 25 miles northwest of Grand Marais. Wilson had a deer license, too, but he and Braaten were concentrating on wolves.
“We had baits out,” Wilson said. “We were using beaver carcasses.”
The wolf he shot was one of four he saw.
“It was right between two of our baits,” Wilson said. “He was coming from one and going to the other.”
The baits were about a half-mile apart, Wilson said.
Wilson was on his way into hunt one of the baits about 9 a.m. Saturday when he saw the wolves.
“It was fairly thick,” he said. “There was a small opening about 140 yards in front of me. I saw them coming over the hill.”
He shot at the first wolf 140 yards away and killed it with one shot. The wolf had severe mange on his hind legs, Wilson said.
“The back legs are fairly bare of hair,” he said.
He estimated the wolf weighed about 80 pounds. He plans to have the head and shoulders of the wolf mounted. He will stay in the Grand Marais area while Braaten continues to hunt for a wolf, he said.
The state of Minnesota assumed management of the gray wolf after it was removed from the federal Endangered Species List on Jan. 27. Some groups said the DNR did not offer enough opportunity for public comment on the wolf season. No public hearings about the season were held except for testimony before the Legislature. The DNR did offer an online survey about the season, and about 80 percent of respondents said they opposed a wolf season.
Two groups, Howling for Wolves and the Center for Biological Diversity, sued the DNR to stop this fall’s hunt but were unsuccessful. Howling for Wolves sponsored a protest in downtown Duluth on Saturday about the wolf hunt. The protest drew about 35 people, according to a News Tribune report.
Minnesota’s wolf population is estimated at 3,000. Wolves were last hunted and trapped in Minnesota before 1974, when the gray wolf was added to the Endangered Species List. The population in Minnesota at that time was estimated at 500.
Via: Duluth News Tribune