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Minnesota DNR to allow more licenses, set higher harvest level for 2014 wolf hunt

A gray wolf rests in the snow in this National Park Service file photo.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday announced the parameters for the 2014 wolf hunting and trapping season, adding 500 additional licenses over last year’s total and increasing the total number of wolves that can be killed by nearly 14 percent.

The DNR said it will make 3,800 hunting and trapping licenses available for the coming season and will allow up to 250 wolves to be killed before the seasons are closed, up from 220 last year.

The move to kill more wolves is likely to please some farmers and hunters who continue to say too many wolves roam the northern third of the state, killing too many livestock and deer.

But the increase in permits also will anger wolf supporters who have been working to overturn the state’s recreational wolf hunt since it began in 2012 after federal protections were removed

The first hunting season runs Nov. 8-23. A second hunting season is set for Nov. 29 to Jan. 31, the same dates for the wolf trapping season. The seasons will close earlier than their stated closing dates if harvest quotas are reached.

Hunters and trappers can apply for 2014 wolf licenses, which are awarded in a lottery, starting Aug. 1.

The DNR said Thursday that a winter population survey showed the state’s wolf population is stable and can sustain a more liberal hunting and trapping harvest. The latest DNR estimate is that 470 wolf packs and an estimated 2,423 wolves lived in Minnesota’s wolf range this past winter, 212 more wolves than estimated on the survey conducted in early 2013.

“Estimates show a stable population with no significant change from the 2013 estimate of 2,211 wolves,” said Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist, in a news release. “We will continue to evaluate the wolf population annually to ensure the wolf population remains well established across northern and central Minnesota.”

To apply, applicants need to pay a $4 fee, show proof of a current or previous hunting license and choose one of three available license options. 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 license fees are $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.