Minnesota’s statewide target harvest of wolves will be 220 this fall -- 180 fewer than last season, the Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.

A smaller Minnesota wolf population means fewer hunting and trapping licenses will be available when the wolf season opens Nov. 9.

Starting Thursday, hunters and trappers can apply for 2,000 early-season and 1,300 late-season licenses. That’s a reduction from 3,600 early-season and 2,400 late-season licenses in 2012. The deadline to apply for the hunting and trapping license lottery is Thursday, Sept. 5.

Here’s more from the DNR’s news release.

“The changes are a management response to the most-recent wolf population estimate,” said Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist. “As with other game species DNR manages, adjustments are made to regulate hunting pressure and harvest to ensure long-term population sustainability and provide hunting and trapping opportunities.”

Minnesota continues to have the largest wolf population in the lower 48 states. The DNR’s 2013 wolf population survey estimated 2,211 wolves last winter compared to 2,921 in the winter of 2008. The most-recent estimate does not include the birth of as many as 2,600 wolf pups this spring, some of which will survive into winter and be counted in next year’s population.

“DNR’s population survey confirmed Minnesota’s wolf population remains firmly established on the landscape,” Stark said. “We can manage seasons for a sustainable population of wolves like we do for dozens of other game species.”

The DNR manages wolf harvest, in part, through a system of hunting zones. The target harvest in the northwest zone is 145, down from 265 in 2012. The target harvest in the northeast zone is 65, down from 133. The east-central zone target harvest is 10, down from 18. With the possible exception of the east-central zone, those harvest targets will be split between the early and late seasons.

Individuals who apply must pay a $4 fee, show proof of a current or previous hunting license and choose one of three available license options:

  • Early season hunting, which is concurrent with the firearms deer season, unless a zone closes earlier because the target harvest is met. The early season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 24, in all Series 100 deer permit areas and Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 17, in Series 200 deer permit areas. In the east-central zone, the early season is scheduled to be a two-day hunt this year, concluding when legal shooting hours end on Sunday, Nov. 10.
  • Late season hunting, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 30, through Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, or when the target harvest is met, whichever occurs earlier. If the east-central zone’s target harvest is met during the early season, the late east-central season will not open.
  • Late season trapping, which runs from Nov. 30 through Jan. 31, 2014, or when the target harvest is met, whichever occurs earlier.

The statewide bag limit is one wolf and licenses are not zone specific. Lottery winners will receive a wolf hunting booklet with their notification.

Wolf licenses cost $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. The early season purchase deadline is Friday, Nov. 1, with surplus licenses going on sale at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The late season purchase deadline is Friday, Nov. 22, with surplus licenses going on sale at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

The DNR sets wolf seasons and quotas based on long-term sustainability, as it does with more than 50 other game species, including many other furbearing mammals. The DNR received strong direction from the Minnesota Legislature to conduct a wolf season and manage wolves as a prized and high-value fur species by setting the season when pelts have value.

DNR’s goal for wolf management, as outlined in the state’s wolf management plan, is to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf in Minnesota and resolve conflicts between wolves and humans. The state wolf management plan includes wolf-specific population and health monitoring, research, depredation management, public education and law enforcement efforts.

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