Wolf Season Quota Announced; Hunt Poses Unacceptable Risk to Population

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 30, 2013                          

Contact:         
Lois Norrgard, Wildlands Chair  612-998-6484
Margaret Levin, State Director 612-259-2446

Wolf Season Quota Announced; Hunt Poses Unacceptable Risk to Population

Minneapolis, MN – On July 29, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced an annual quota of 220 wolves for the 2013 sport hunt.

“In light of the population numbers released earlier this month, which show a marked decline of 25% in wolf numbers, continuing the sport hunt is too great a risk.  We may be approaching a population threshold which could undo years of efforts to recover Minnesota’s wolves,” said Lois Norrgard, Wildlands Chair for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.

“We stand by our commitment to the Wolf Management Roundtable and the Minnesota Wolf Management Plan, and oppose the continued public hunt prior to the five-year monitoring period that was agreed to,” said Margaret Levin, State Director. “We oppose completely the public trapping of wolves,” said Levin.

In 2001, Minnesota completed work on a wolf management plan which stated that no general public taking of wolves is authorized by this plan within the first five years of implementation. This language was a compromise reached after significant input from a broad array of stakeholders, including members of the Sierra Club. The five-year period would allow the state to conduct scientific population assessments and develop responsible, data-driven plans for the future of our wolf that will be critical to the long term survival of this iconic Minnesota species.

The DNR’s own data concluded that there had been no significant change in wolf distribution or abundance in the decade between 1998 and 2008. The population did not appear to be increasing and seemed to have found a balance, until the commencement of a trophy hunting and trapping season in 2012.

The population survey done by the DNR this year shows a 25% decline in wolf numbers, at least partially the result of last year’s sport hunt quota of 400 wolves. Due to the way data is collected, more than 400 were actually killed in the hunt. In addition, between 250 and 500 wolves are estimated to be illegally killed each year in Minnesota, and there are an estimated 100 to 200 livestock predator control kills each year. These numbers exclude mortality due to natural causes.

“It is possible that we have actually lost between 900 and 1000 wolves due specifically to human-caused mortality in one year,” said Norrgard. “This is an unacceptable risk to a viable wolf population in Minnesota. With so much at stake, we need to approach with caution. Research on population effects of existing yearly mortality, coupled with new threats from disease, habitat destruction, and climate change, should be part of the responsible monitoring period that the citizens of Minnesota urged our DNR to commence.”

Wolves are an iconic species for many Minnesotans.  After nearly being wiped away, wolves have made important steps toward recovery in Minnesota – but appear once again at risk.

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