An animal rights group is putting up billboards all across the metro to oppose Minnesota's first ever wolf hunt this fall. One of those billboards is expected to go up Thursday in Plymouth. The wolf hunt season starts Nov. 3.
"We felt that we had to push people to action," said Maureen Hackett, founder of Howling for Wolves, the group behind the billboards.
Wolves were taken off the federal endangered species list in January. Under state guidelines, the Department of Natural Resources was supposed to wait five years before allowing a hunt, but the state legislature eliminated the moratorium.
"It is way too soon and reckless to start a random wolf trapping and hunting season," said Hackett.
Chris Niskanen with the state DNR, however, says the hunt is a reasonable tool to manage the wolf population. He says the number of wolves in Minnesota is actually growing. Also, no more than 400 wolves could be shot or trapped in one season, he said.
"We have about 3,000 wolves in the state. That population has been stable or slightly increasing from 2008," said Niskanen. "So there's definitely an opportunity for us to hunt."
But animal rights groups like Howling for Wolves say those numbers are shrinking.
"These are not problem wolves," said Hackett. "These are not wolves that have had any difficulties with man, interaction or livestock interaction. These are random wolves functioning in our northern Minnesota territory where we have actual wolf habitat that by the way is dwindling."
A recent DNR online survey shows 79 percent of more than 7,000 people who responded are opposed to the hunt. The survey was not limited to Minnesota residents. But the DNR said the hunt will still go on.
"There's a great deal of interest in Minnesota to have a wolf hunting season on the part of farmers, ranchers and sportsmen and that sort of thing," said Niskanen. "So yeah, it's a reasonable thing to do."
That's not a good enough reason to people like Hackett.
"Minnesota wolves are a legacy in our state and we'd like to carry on this legacy for the next generation."
Sonya Goins & 12 News Staff
Wednesday, August 08, 2012