Anderson: Hunt or no hunt, wolf will thrive

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 12, 2012 - 10:54 PM

This is bad news for those who think that declaring open season on the creature will benefit whitetail numbers.


This July 16, 2004 file photo shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.

Photo: Dawn Villella, Associated Press file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Given the green light now by the feds to lock and load, Minnesota seems generally in a mood to thin the ranks of eastern gray wolves, or canis lupus. Instinctively, these big dogs will respond by retreating into the shadows to conduct their killing less brazenly -- a PR stunt intended if nothing else to assuage the state's collective itchy trigger finger. Regardless, the wolf's survival is ensured: Shoot 'em up or not, the number of these animals roaming the state today likely won't change in 10 years or even 20.

It's the nature of the beast.

This will come as bad news to hunters who think the wolf can somehow be beaten back in favor of boosting whitetail populations. It ain't going to happen, at least not in the entirety of the northern forested region. Instead, more often than not, one dead wolf will be replaced by a live one, and, if necessary, another and another still. El lobo, as it turns out, really abhors a vacuum. And fills it, pronto.

Make no mistake. I hunt deer in northern Minnesota, near Cook, and our bunch routinely comes across wolf scat and tracks, whereas 10 or 20 years ago, we didn't. Similarly, where I chase whitetails in Wisconsin, at a latitude much farther south than Cook, wolves and/or wolf tracks are now ever-present.

Wolves in both of these hunting areas kill deer -- any numbskull knows that. And we don't like it. Worse, we believe, they periodically move deer out of our hunting grounds, which likely has a greater adverse effect on our overall whitetail harvest than the number of animals they actually surround and chew to death.

That said, we realize that factors other than wolves largely determine deer populations in the two areas. We realize as well that wolves in any event will not be easily dissuaded from their bloodthirstiness.

It is true that the folks near Ely and elsewhere across the north who are long tired of their dogs and other pets being attacked and killed perhaps can put the kibosh on these easy pickings with a few cracks from a .243.

Ditto the stockman who during spring calving reaches for his grandfather's .220 Swift and sends a 40-grain hunk of lead toward an unsuspecting moonlight marauder.

But limited triumphs such as these of firepower over fur power will be confined to the margins where people and wolves interact, now that wolves have been removed from the endangered species list. Absent the unlikely return of aerial hunting, bounties or poison, the state's wolf population isn't likely to fall much below its present estimate of about 3,000.

Meaning their consumption of deer -- perhaps 15 to 20 per year per adult wolf -- likely will remain constant.

Yet, and still, significant questions remain in Minnesota about wolf management as it relates to deer and deer management.

One: Will the Department of Natural Resources continue to advocate for the December fantasy hunt it unveiled at its stakeholders meeting last weekend in St. Paul?

Announcing that the agency wanted to manage the wolf as a "trophy" animal, commissioner Tom Landwehr said that rather than allow deer hunters to take wolves opportunistically during the whitetail season (which easily could be accomplished with a quota system), the DNR instead envisions in December the state dispatching phalanxes of newly christened wolf killers from their suburban split-levels to saunter up north for a week or two to get themselves a woof.

This from an agency so concerned about retaining duck hunters it opens the season in mid-September, when ducks are barely fledged, so everyone gets a limit and no one gets cold.

Second: If the DNR wants -- as it justifiably does -- deer hunters to educate themselves about wolves, and to understand that wolves are not the primary determinant of deer numbers across the entirety of the north (thought it might be in certain areas), then the agency should manage regional deer numbers high enough so that hunters don't naturally infer upon wolves a disproportionate effect on deer.

The DNR should also keep deer numbers relatively high so that wolves can't keep severely depressed sub-populations of whitetails from rebounding, as they can, particularly in areas of aging forests and otherwise poor habitat.

This would entail reducing hunters' liberal deer regulations of recent years while better anticipating the eventuality of periodic killer winters that can undercut whitetail populations.

Upshot: If the DNR hopes to convince hunters that wolves don't have a significant adverse effect on deer, prove it by managing for high deer numbers, even while the state's wolf population remains, inevitably, constant.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
CS-Bakersfield 74
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question