Today, December 28th marks the official removal of the gray wolf in Minnesota from the threatened species list. After a 30-day period the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will return management of the species to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (DNR) Now, the DNR will follow their own wolf management plan, which was created in 2001, and is designed to manage the wolf population at a healthy, sustained level.
At the present time Minnesota’s wolf population stands at approximately 3,000, which is almost twice the number biologists have stated as a viable, long-term population. When the gray wolf was added to the threatened species list in the 1970’s their numbers in Minnesota had dwindled to as few as 700 individuals. Going forward the DNR will use scientific method and their management plan to monitor and maintain the Minnesota population at or above the stated goal of 1600 animals.
And while the management plan allows for owners of livestock and domesticated animals to have more authority to control wolves, the state will offer predator services. The level of authority and control must still be discussed and settled upon by livestock producers, the DNR, state lawmakers, and agriculture officials. The DNR in conjunction with the state legislature, are in the beginning stages of a plan that could allow for a hunting and trapping season of the gray wolf.
While the gray wolf population in Minnesota represents the largest in the lower 48 states, they have made a strong comeback in other areas as well. Gray wolf numbers continue to grow and stabilize in other Great Lake’s states, and the western mountain states. Biologists across the U.S. are committed to the long-term survival of the species.