• Part two of two
No one knows exactly what will happen for Minnesota’s first regulated wolf hunt, but Department of Natural Resources officials are looking forward to what they discover as the season gets underway on Nov. 3.
“We’re going to find out, first of all, what kind of hunter interest there is,” said DNR Area Wildlife Manger Rick Staffon. “It’ll be interesting to see how many hunters and trappers apply. I think they assume there’ll be far more than 6,000, so I think all the permits will go.”
Staffon said that in other parts of the country where wolf hunts are held, hunter success rates are “quite low” compared to other forms of hunting.
“In Minnesota we have kind of a unique situation in that it’s during the firearms deer season when we have 500,000 hunters in the woods,” he said. “We think most of the wolves taken by deer hunters will be taken by guys who are essentially hunting deer and happen to see a wolf.”
Staffon noted that during the early hunting season the wolf pelts will not be at their prime, but they should be by the time the late hunting and trapping season begins on Nov. 24.
“Most of our trapping seasons are meant to take the animals when their pelts are prime,” Staffon said, adding that a prime wolf pelt could bring as much as $300.
Staffon said he believed that there would be a great deal of interest in the 2012 wolf hunt, but that fewer hunters would be as interested in years to come.
“I suspect a lot of people will want one wolf so they can hang a skin or have it mounted, [but] that’ll be the only wolf they’ll take,” he said.
He also said that few hunters out during deer season are likely to catch a glimpse of a wolf.
“They might not be willing to buy a $30 license on the very low probability of taking an animal,” he said. “The trapping part of the later season will probably become more and more popular.”
Wolves more wary?
Staffon said that he believed the hunting season would lead to a wolf population that was more likely to stay away from humans and farm animals.
“When I grew up as a kid in Minnesota, of course, wolves were persecuted then, and they were extremely wary and very hard to see,” Staffon said. “Of course the numbers were a lot less ... but they were just very wary. And I think some of that will come back.”
Staffon said that wolf researchers like L. David Mech, the founder of the International Wolf Center, have been saying for years that a hunting season for wolves would have a positive effect.
“He thinks it will actually be good for the wolf population – it will make wolves less comfortable around humans, and probably less likely to cause depredation (predatory attacks on livestock),” said Staffon.