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MN Wolf Hunt Effects - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

MN Wolf Hunt Effects

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Minnesota's first ever, regulated wolf hunt is underway. Already 74 of the 400 tags have been filled. The DNR says they'll likely hit that 400 mark. Which initially, they didn't think was possible. Valley News Live found out why the state is regulating the wolf population and what that means for deer hunters.

First, wolves made it off of the endangered species list and before you know it Minnesota is having it's first wolf hunt. The wolf population has managed to stay at about 3000 across Minnesota for over 10 years.

"The fact they remained at that number for so long indicates there maybe isn't any room for anymore growth." says Nicole Lee, the lead animal keeper at the Red River Zoo in Fargo.

Lee says wolves have made a comeback in Minnesota but there's likely no where for them to go. Wolves can cover up to 100 square miles of land looking for a meal. A meal Lee says wouldn't appeal to most hunters, "They're going to look for something that's weaker, younger, older, or has some type of issue." Basically wolves are looking for the weakest link.

So what does the this wolf hunt mean for Minnesota deer hunters? the DNR says don't expect to see that many more deer in the woods next year because of the wolf hunt. They estimate they'll take about 400 wolves through the hunt this year. And each wolf only eats about 15 deer every year. Start adding that up, that means we're going to see an extra 6000 deer out in the woods next year. Which in the grand scheme of things, isn't all that many.

Total deer numbers across Minnesota are right around 1 million. 6000 deer taken out by 400 wolves all of a sudden sounds like a drop in the bucket.

"I don't think people realize how infrequently wolves actually consume food. They see a wolf as a predator, carnivore, hunter. And they automatically assume they're out there making a kill everyday." Explains Lee at the display of gray wolves in Fargo. The wolves here only get fed about once a week which would be pretty typical if they were in the wild.

Meanwhile folks at the DNR say they hear stories all the time from hunters who think wolves are effecting deer populations. But more often than not they say, it's just not the case.

The Minnesota DNR has established a minimum population for wolves statewide. If it drops to under 1600 wolves, there's a plan to increase the numbers.

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