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Wolf hunting: Legal actions grow, license sales slow

Gray wolf
Gray wolf

MINNEAPOLIS— Two state conservation groups yesterday asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop wolf hunting and trapping this fall. Two national groups are also seeking legal protection for wolves, and in the meantime the purchase of hunting licenses is moving slowly.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves seek review of a Minnesota Court of Appeals’ decision issued last week that denied their motion for a preliminary injunction.
Unless the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, wolf hunting and trapping will begin Nov. 3 with the opening of the deer firearms season. The groups claim that without a preliminary injunction, the wolf seasons will be over before the appellate court considers the merits of their legal challenge claiming the state failed to take formal public comment on the hunt.

Wisconsin’s wolf hunt started Monday, although court action there has stopped or at least delayed the use of hounds for wolf hunting.

Meanwhile, The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals signaled yesterday that they will file suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to return the Great Lakes wolf to the endangered species list. The groups are also asking that Wisconsin and Minnesota halt their wolf hunts.

Amid all the legal actions, Minnesota's prospective wolf hunters are taking their time buying their licenses.
Six-thousand hunters were selected in the lottery for the right to buy licenses for Minnesota's first wolf season. But as of Monday, the Department of Natural Resources had sold 1,155 of the 3,600 available early season licenses.

Hunters selected for the early wolf hunting season must buy their licenses by Wednesday, Oct. 24. Lottery winners for the late hunting-and-trapping season, which opens Nov. 24, must buy their licenses by Nov. 15. The DNR says it has sold 305 of the 1,800 late season hunting licenses and 166 of the 600 available trapping licenses.

Licenses that remain unsold by the deadlines will become available to other hunters.