A bill that would suspend Minnesota's wolf hunt was passed by a Senate committee this afternoon.
The bill, passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, would put the hunt on hold "to study outcomes of the wolf hunt on the wolf population and to implement the wolf management plan," according to its wording.
Minnesota has held its first managed gray wolf hunting and trapping seasons the past two years after the wolf was removed from the federal Endangered Species List. Some groups and individuals have protested the hunt and filed lawsuits trying to prevent it. None of those suits was successful.
The "Wolf Data Bill," as it's titled, also calls for an annual wolf population census and creation of an advisory wolf task force appointed by the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It would also close tribal lands to the hunting and trapping of wolves if tribal leadership requests it.
A companion bill in the House has not been acted upon yet.
The bill was authored by Senate Environment and Energy Chairman John Marty, DFL-Roseville; Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul; and Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center.
"The wolf data bill is an alternative proposal that addresses common-sense concerns with Minnesota's wolf population and wolf hunt," Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder and president of Howling For Wolves, said in a statement. "It directs the Minnesota DNR to gather better information that is needed to understand our wolves with sound, scientific methods."
But Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association, voiced his opposition to the measure.
"We're adamantly opposed to the legislation," said Johnson. "It refuses to acknowledge the research and study that's gone into wolves, not just here in Minnesota but internationally."