Tag Archives: wolf

Great Lakes Wolf Population Delisted changes status in North Dakota

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The recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection might not seem as important in North Dakota as some of the other states in the Midwest, but it is significant nonetheless.

Stephanie Tucker, North Dakota Game and Fish Department furbearer biologist, said this development is important because it means the Great Lakes population has recovered enough to no longer warrant protection by the Endangered Species Act. “However, the Great Lakes population region delisting only includes the portion of North Dakota east of U.S. Highway 83 and the Missouri River, thus complicating their management status in our state,” Tucker said.

Due to this action, the management of wolves found roaming through the eastern portion of the state will fall back to the State Game and Fish Department under state management guidelines as a protected furbearer. The complicating aspect of the decision is that wolves moving through western North Dakota (west of Highway 83 and the Missouri River) still remain under federal protection because that area falls between the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain boundaries.

“Although we do get rare sightings in North Dakota, we don’t have a resident wolf population in the state, or enough suitable habitat to support one; therefore, we have no plans to allow a hunting season on wolves at this point,” Tucker said. “The upside is that under state management, we now have the flexibility to deal with any issues that may arise with the occasional transient animals moving through North Dakota.”

State law provides a provision for landowners to protect their property from depredation by a state-managed furbearer. Therefore, landowners in eastern North Dakota could shoot a wolf posing a threat to livestock. However, west of highway 83 and the Missouri River, wolves are still an endangered species under stricter federal protection. Subsequently, landowners in that part of the state must first contact proper federal authorities before taking action on their own.

“Our hope is that in the near future, additional delisting action by the Fish and Wildlife Service will address western North Dakota,” Tucker said. “Then the confusion over split management status in our state will be eliminated.”

DNR releases proposal for wolf harvest season this fall

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing an inaugural gray wolf hunting and trapping season this fall that calls for a conservative harvest quota of 400 animals.

Wolf research indicates Minnesota’s wolf population could sustain a higher quota, but DNR officials say they are taking a measured approach to the state’s first season.

The proposal sets a quota of 6,000 licenses that will be allocated through a lottery system. Only one license will be allowed per hunter or trapper. Hunting would be allowed with firearms, archery equipment and muzzleloaders. Calls and bait would be allowed with restrictions.

The season is proposed for the end of November and would be closed once the quota is met. Hunters would be required to register animals on the same day they are harvested and data would be collected from carcasses. Other states with harvest seasons for wolves and other big game animals similarly monitor seasons and close them when quotas are met.

DNR will outline its proposals to the Legislature on Thursday, Jan. 26 before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee.

While the legislatively approved wolf management plan authorizes hunting and trapping seasons, the agency is seeking additional authorization from the state Legislature this session to offer a wolf license and implement other management strategies. Legislators will have to pass a bill by the end of the session and the governor will have to sign it in order for a season to be held.

The DNR will also take public comments prior to finalizing and implementing a wolf season.

The initial season will allow wolf biologists to collect information on hunter and trapper interest and harvest success and will provide biological information on harvested wolves to help inform future wolf population management and monitoring. The state has an estimated population of 3,000 gray wolves and past surveys indicate the population is stable.

Wolves are prolific, survival of young is generally high and populations can offset effects of mortality caused by hunting and trapping seasons, DNR officials say.

The DNR intends to manage wolves as a prized and high-value fur species by setting the season when pelts are most prime, limiting the take through a lottery and requiring animals be registered.

DNR plans to adjust the framework of future wolf seasons based on information collected during the inaugural season. This adaptive management approach will result in progressive changes as the DNR learns how to best manage a wolf season in Minnesota. The wolf harvest quota does consider other causes of mortality such as removal due to livestock and domestic animal depredation and threats and vehicle collisions.

 

The agency will also be undertaking a new wolf population survey starting next winter.

Minnesota’s population of Great Lakes gray wolves transitions from federal protection to state management on Friday, Jan. 27. That is when the DNR implements its state management plan, which is designed to ensure their long-term survival of wolves in the state.

 

The agency has three lead conservation officers designated to ensure enforcement of the state’s wolf laws by conservation officers throughout the wolf range. The agency also has a wolf research biologist and management specialist.

 

Information on changes to regulations on taking wolves to protect domestic animals can be found online at mndnr.gov/wolves.

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