Wolves are back in the crosshairs of Minnesota residents. Last week, a group of about 300 congregated during a Congressional listening session, urging lawmakers to push for a reduction on wolf numbers across the state. The meeting, which was hosted by U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-8th District), brought a collective of angry residents who blame wolves for a bad deer season, livestock depredation and threatening their pets, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
The latest population survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) estimated about 2,700 wolves in the state; however, some residents say that “state officials are undercounting them,” according to MPR. Regardless, the MDNR wolf management plan “calls for maintaining a healthy statewide wolf population between 2,200 and 3,000 wolves,” which based upon the latest tally is meeting objective.
“We need to celebrate the recovery of the gray wolf. And we can celebrate the wolf recovery by delisting them,” said Stauber. “Minnesota is at the tip of this conversation. We have more wolves than any other state in the lower 48.”
Stauber wants to remove federal protections from wolves and return management to state wildlife officials. This is why he’s introduced a bill in the U.S. House to delist wolves, hopeful that passage at the House level would “better withstand court challenges.”
Rep. Nathan Nelson (R-Hinckley), spoke in support of Stauber’s push to delist wolves at this recent meeting.
“This room is filled full of passion,” said Nelson. “And each one of you are here, maybe it’s been livestock loss, maybe it’s deer hunting, maybe it’s both, maybe it’s a pet. But wolves have impacted your life.”
A recently formed group in favor of delisting wolves, Hunters for Hunters, also sent a letter to all 87 counties in the state, in support of the removal of wolves and requesting that MDNR “immediately implement a wolf hunt,” according to board member Steve Porter.
“We have a voice,” said Porter. “We’re going to stir the pot. We’re going to be aggressive, we’re gonna keep shaking this thing down. We need action, and we need it immediately.”
Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a new initiative that will “foster a national dialogue around how communities can live with gray wolves,” according to MPR. Current law only allows wolves to be killed in self-defense. Wolves that threaten livestock or pets are also allowed to be trapped by federal agents.