Wolf Numbers Decline, Range Increases in Minnesota

Wolves, photo courtesy MN DNR
Wolves, photo courtesy MN DNR.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the first survey of the state’s wolf population since last fall’s inaugural hunting season shows the population remains strong. Estimates of wolf numbers have declined by 710 since the last survey, in 2008.

Despite the smaller numbers, the DNR says the population remains strong and the area of the state wolves call home has grown slightly. The recent survey shows 2,211 wolves in the state, down about 24 percent since 2008.

The primary reason for the decline is reduced deer numbers in wolf territory, the DNR says. In a news release, Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist, “Results from the 2013 wolf survey continue to demonstrate that Minnesota’s wolf population is fully recovered from its once threatened status and the population is responding naturally to the availability of deer, wolves’ primary food source.”

The anti-wolf hunting group Howling For Wolves issued a release in response to the news calling for a halt to hunting. “There is no scientific reason to hunt wolves,” said Dr. Maureen Hackett, the organization’s founder. “We call on the DNR to refocus on their original management goals for wolves, which are to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota, and to resolve conflicts between wolves and humans.”

The DNR says a wolf hunt will still happen this fall, though with potentially smaller harvest goals. The state’s minimum goal is 1,600 animals, and the federal recovery goal range is 1,251 to 1,400 wolves. Learn more on the DNR’s wolf management page.

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