Hunters from California to Florida and Texas to Alaska hope to join Minnesotans this fall for a shot at one of the state's estimated 3,000 wolves.

More than 23,000 people applied by Thursday's deadline for 6,000 licenses the Department of Natural Resources will issue for a wolf hunt beginning Nov. 3.

"There's certainly interest in wolf hunting from a significant number of people,'' said Ed Boggess, Department of Natural Resources fish and wildlife division director. "We had more applications for wolf hunting than black bear hunting.''

Hunters must beat 1-in-4 odds to be selected in the lottery to be held later this month for the $30 licenses ($250 for nonresidents).

The DNR has set what wildlife officials describe as a conservative harvest quota of 400 animals, split between two seasons, the first coinciding with the firearms deer season.

A second season from Nov. 24 to Jan. 31 for hunters and trappers will feature much harsher conditions, but wolves' pelts then will be in their prime.

More than 12,000 hunters applied for the early season, 7,600 applied for the late season and 3,800 for a trapping license.

While 98 percent of applicants are Minnesotans, hunters from 33 other states also applied, including 74 from North Dakota, 66 from Wisconsin, 27 from South Dakota, and 25 from Iowa. But others much farther away also applied, including 16 from Colorado, 12 from Utah, five from New York, four from Alaska and one from Maine.

No more than 5 percent of the licenses will go to nonresidents. Nonresidents won't be allowed to trap wolves.

Some opponents of the hunt -- the first of its kind in Minnesota history -- have said they would enter the license lottery but wouldn't hunt if selected, thereby "saving a wolf.''

But lottery applicants were required to have a hunting license. Licenses that aren't bought by lottery winners will be sold to other hunters, Boggess said. "We expect all 6,000 to be sold,'' he said.

Meanwhile, about 35 people, half of them members of the Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa, protested the wolf hunt in Duluth on Friday. Joining them were supporters of the Twin Cities-based group Howling for Wolves.

The Chippewa disagree with the hunt, said chairwoman Sandra Skinaway, because "in our creation story, our people and the wolf travel together.''

"We believe that what happens to one of us, happens to the other,'' she said.

Staff writer Dennis Anderson contributed to this report.