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Wolf Hunting/Trapping Season in MN and its Impact to Grouse/Woodcock Hunters - An Update

11/15/12

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Intro: With the delisting of the wolf in Minnesota in January 2012, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources obtained the authority to manage the wolf population in Minnesota. The state legislature passed Minnesota Statute 97B.647 that was signed into law in May 2012 established that a limited taking of wolves would now be allowed in the state. 

Season Dates: The early wolf hunting season begins on November 3, to coincide with the gun deer hunting season, and will last up to nine days in the 200-series deer permit areas and up to 16 days in the 100-series deer permit areas. This hunt is only open in that portion of the state where rifles can be used to hunt deer. The late season, which also allows trapping for those with a wolf trapping license, will begin Nov. 24 statewide and coincides with the bobcat and marten trapping seasons. The season will close January 31 or when the total target harvest by wolf zone is reached. The target harvest for both seasons combined is 400 wolves.  Minnesota has been divided into three wolf management zones and quotas were established based on the estimated populations in those zones.
Hunting/trapping methods allowed:  Hunting with the use of firearms or bow and arrow, and trapping are the only legal ways to harvest a wolf. Trappers can only legally use foot hold traps with a maximum jaw spread of up to 8 3/4 inches, body gripping traps with jaw openings less than 7 ½ inches and/or snares .   Hunters are allowed to use electronic calls and bait with some restrictions.
Potential Conflicts with Grouse Hunters:  Trapping appears to be the main concern with grouse hunters during this time with the potential of dogs being caught in traps of highest concern. The late November 24 wolf trapping season opener is not expected to be of high concern to most grouse hunters. This date coincides with the ongoing bobcat and fisher/marten trapping seasons so little additional impact is expected to grouse hunters/dogs from folks trapping for wolves. The number of bird hunters in pursuit of grouse in late November is low when compared to the peak hunting month of October. 
RGS Involvement: From its onset, Ted Dick, the Minnesota Grouse Coordinator, has worked closely with Department of Natural Resources staff monitoring the development of the wolf season and assessing the potential conflicts to upland game bird hunting. Ted Dick has responded promptly to RGS member’s concerns on the subject and is currently collecting data on conflicts between user groups involved. Please contact Ted by phone at 218-327-4438 or by email at Ted.Dick@state.mn.us with information or questions on the Minnesota wolf season and any impacts that have been felt by grouse hunters.
Harvest Target: Minnesota DNR has established a conservative goal of 400 wolves to be harvested out of an estimated 3,000 wolves in the state’s population. There is a limit of one wolf per licensed hunter with 6,000 licenses being issued through a lottery system.