As directed by the Minnesota Legislature and governor, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will implement the state’s first-ever regulated wolf hunting and trapping season in fall and winter 2012. Today, the DNR released its plan, and it included a firearms wolf hunting tag and season that will be valid concurrent with the northern zone’s gun deer season.
Here are the details of Minnesota’s first modern wolf season from the DNR:
- The Early Wolf Season would begin on the opening day of the firearms deer season (Nov. 3) and would continue through the day that the harvest quota is reached or until the end of the deer season. The season will be concurrent with the deer season, and open in that portion of the state where rifles can be used to hunt deer. The season would be a maximum of 16 days in all Series 100 Deer Permit Areas (DPAs), 9 days in select Series 200 DPAs, and all Series 300 DPAs will be closed to taking of wolves. Wolves could be taken by firearms or archery only during this season (no trapping).
- The Late Wolf Season would coincide with the opening of bobcat season (Nov. 24). The season would continue through the day the harvest target is reached or Jan. 6, 2013.
- The Late Season is open for both hunting and trapping and snaring. Trappers could pursue wolves without purchasing a small game license. Trappers born after Dec. 31, 1989 would need a trapper education certificate or proof of a previous trapping license to purchase a wolf trapping license.
- A person cannot purchase both hunting and trapping license.
- A total of 6,000 licenses will be offered for sale, with a total harvest quota of 400 wolves.
- Licenses for the Early Wolf Season expire after the close of the Early Season, or at the end of the day when the harvest quota is reached, whichever comes first. Early Season licenses are not valid in the Late Season.
- A minimum of 600 of the Late Wolf Season licenses will be issued to trappers to guarantee that adequate data on trapper success rates can be established for future season setting and depredation control. If there are fewer trapper applicants than 600, the remaining licenses would be offered to the hunting applicants.
- The number of licenses offered to non-residents (hunting only) will be capped at 5 % for both the Early (180 out of 3,600) and Late Season (120 out of 2,400).
Seasons/Target Harvests/Number of Licenses
- Early Season
- The early season dates are November 3- 18 in Series 100 deer permit areas, and November 3-11 in Series 200 deer permit areas. The early season is limited to that area of Series 200 where rifles can be used to hunt deer. Series 300 deer permit areas are closed to taking wolves. The early season will close prior to the above dates if the target harvest is reached.
- Firearms/archery hunting only (no trapping).
- $30 hunting license.
- 3,600 licenses for sale.
- The harvest quota is 200.
- If the quota is not reached, the remainder of the early quota will be added to the Late Season.
- Late Season
- Nov. 24 – Jan. 6, 2013 or through the end of the day the total harvest quota of 400 is reached, statewide.
- $30 hunting license.
- $30 trapping license (trapper ed required if born after Dec. 31, 1989, no small game license.
- 2400 licenses for sale.
- The number of licenses will be offered as Hunting or Trapping based upon the proportion of applicants, but at least 600 licenses will be for trapping, unless fewer trappers apply.
- One application per person ($4).
- ELS will ask for proof of license purchase. If answer is “no”, customer will need to purchase another license first and then apply for a wolf license.
- Applicants must select one option only from: Early Wolf Season (Hunting only), Late Wolf Season Hunting, or Late Season Trapping/snaring.
- A minimum of 600 late season licenses dedicated for trapping unless fewer trappers apply.
- Groups up to 4 individuals may apply as a single group, and may assist another licensed wolf hunter, but may not shoot or tag for each other (no party hunting – same as turkey). All of group will either win or lose the drawing. If a group wins each individual may purchase a license and take a wolf.
- Early season is limited to that area of the state where rifles can be used to hunt deer. The remainder of the state (shotgun “zone”) is closed.
- The Late season is open statewide.
- Tribal or federal lands may be closed by the land authority.
- There will be no State rulemakings for federal or tribal lands but known closures will be identified in the regulations book.
- Application Materials Available online: Aug. 1.
- Application Deadline: Same as for antlerless deer permits (September 6, 2012).
- Winner notification & booklet sent to all successful applicants: October 15th.
- Winner notification online: October 15th.
- On Sale Date: October 15th
- Purchase deadline: the beginning of legal shooting hours of the opening day of the Early Wolf Season for the Early Season, and before the beginning of the Late Season for the Late Season (no license sales during an open season).
- If there are fewer applicants than licenses available, these surplus licenses go on sale on October 22nd, for both the Early and Late Season.
- Bag limit/possession limit: one
- Animal must be registered by ELS terminal, internet, or phone no later than 8PM of the day following the day of harvest. Site tag will contain all the same information as furbearer site tags.
- Harvest data will be obtained during carcass examination.
- Early Season: to be determined.
- Late Season: by appointment throughout, or during previously scheduled fur registration time/date/places.
- Details pending.
- Live feed registration data to website and ACTIVE DNR 1-800 telephone number (registration telephone number).
- Season closure announcement will be automatic, based upon a programmed quota for the early season and the total harvest quota for the late season.
- Seasons will be closed at the end of the day when the quota is achieved. The season closure announcement will be made by 9PM. The early season quota is one-half the total harvest quota.
- Yes, part of license like deer.
Public comment process
- Public comment will be on-line only.
- Wolf hunters and trappers will be surveyed after the season to obtain statistically valid preferences on season structure.
Estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, Minnesota’s 3,000 wolves are the largest population in the lower 48 states. The population has remained relatively stable for the past 10 years. In January 2012, wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan were removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list and wolf management became the responsibility of each respective state.
The DNR has not established a maximum population goal. Wolves are allowed to naturally expand their range.
A statewide winter population of 1,600 wolves is the minimum goal. If Minnesota’s wolf population falls below this minimum, DNR will take immediate and appropriate management actions to reverse the decline and restore the population to its minimum level in the shortest possible time.