Early findings: Wolf hunt more successful here than out West

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2013 - 9:59 PM
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FILE - In this undated photo is a gray wolf in a wooded area near Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Photo: Jayne Belsky, Wisconsin DNR

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The analysis of Minnesota's recently concluded wolf season will take months as researchers survey hunters and trappers and examine teeth and reproductive tracts from the 412 wolves killed. But already several interesting facts have surfaced:

Hunters and trappers had a much higher success rate than those in western states. Early-season wolf hunters here had a 4.1 percent success rate, while late-season hunters had a 4.4 percent success rate. Trappers, as expected, did much better: 24.5 percent of the 800 trappers got a wolf.

In western states where wolf hunting is allowed, hunters generally have less than a 1 percent success rate.

Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist, said there are many factors that could explain that, including the far different terrain in the west, and the much higher wolf densities here.

Also interesting: Hunters and trappers averaged about six wolves per day during the late season, but averaged nine wolves daily over the last week. Stark doesn't know why.

The 412 wolves killed was a dozen over the 400-wolf target, but officials said that target was always a general guideline, and exceeding that number by 12 wolves isn't a concern. Hunters and trappers ended up killing 198 wolves in the northwest zone, where the target had been 187.

Ice fishing update

Upper Red Lake continues to be a major destination for ice anglers, and fishing has remained good there. Fishing has been slower on Lake of the Woods, according to conservation officers.

Ice conditions have improved in many areas of the state, and trucks now are driving on Lake Winnibigoshish, where anglers have been catching walleyes, northerns and perch.

All lakes completely within the BWCA are now open for lake and stream trout fishing, though most reports indicated fishing has been slow.

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