DULUTH, MN ----- December 31, 2013 --- Minnesota concluded its second wolf season when the Department of Natural Resources closed the east-central zone on Saturday, Dec. 28.
A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons. The harvest target was 220 wolves.
"Wolf season target harvest limits are set conservatively to not negatively affect Minnesota's wolf population long term," said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. "The targets for each hunting zone are used as triggers to close the season. Hunters and trappers have another full day in the field after a zone's closure is announced."
Minnesota's wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter. The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population prior to pups being born. Wolf populations rapidly increase in the spring when pups are born and decline at various rates annually depending on mortality factors in addition to the wolf season.
The DNR will complete an assessment of Minnesota's wolf population status this winter and summarize data from the 2013 wolf season before setting the 2014 wolf season.
Estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, Minnesota's wolf population – now estimated at 2,200 – has fully recovered from its once threatened status and is firmly established on Minnesota's landscape.
Data collected as part of the most recent comprehensive wolf population survey This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. shows that the lower 2013 population estimate, which dropped from the 2009 estimate of 2,900 wolves, correlates well with the fact that wolves' primary food sources have declined in the forested portions of Minnesota
Additional information about wolves is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.