Howling for Wolves putting up anti-wolf hunt billboards

Howling for Wolves is paying to put up billboards of this sort throughout the Twin Cities.
Howling for Wolves is paying to put up billboards of this sort throughout the Twin Cities.

-- Wolf hunting season opposed by 80 percent of DNR survey respondents
-- Minnesota's wolf hunting season begins November 3

A nonprofit called Howling for Wolves is putting up billboards around the Twin Cities in a last-ditch effort to persuade state officials to reconsider this fall's first-ever regulated wolf hunting season.

The billboards feature graphic photos of wolves ensnared in traps and read: "Stop DNR torture. Now or never."

Howling for Wolves, founded earlier this year "to be a voice for wild wolves," has also filed a government data request seeking information "about how and why the Gray Wolf is being targeted for an open sport trapping and shooting season immediately after it was removed from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act."

A press release accuses the DNR of kowtowing to hunters and trappers in pushing for a wolf season despite widespread public opposition.

But in a Pioneer Press blog post, Dave Orrick takes Howling for Wolves' case against the DNR to task:

Howling for Wolves putting up anti-wolf hunt billboards

The group accuses the DNR of coming up with the wolf hunt plan "behind closed doors." This strains credulity, since no less a public body than than the state legislature approved several key parts of the season framework. (The DNR could have gone ahead with a hunt without legislative approval, but the agency would have lacked licensing and other authorities that could have imperiled the season.)

Howling for Wolves also alleges the DNR of "violated its own legal plan" of a five-year moratorium to allow a hunt after wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list. That's incorrect. Last year, the legislature voted to end that moratorium in the Game and Fish Bill, and Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill.

Orrick argues that the reason wolf hunting never would've been considered as recently as a decade ago is simple: There weren't enough of them. But now that the wolf population is recovered, there's no good reason not to allow a wolf hunt. Howling for Wolves, on the hand, argues the DNR doesn't have enough information to determine the extent to which Minnesota's wolf population has bounced back since the mid-70s, when it was estimated that only a few hundred of the animals remained in the state.

This year's unprecedented wolf hunt will be split up into two seasons. The first will coincide with Minnesota's deer hunting season, followed by a late hunting and trapping season.

Six thousand licenses will be granted for the two seasons -- 3,600 for the early season, 2,400 for the late season -- and will cost $30 for Minnesota residents and $250 for out-of-state hunters.

The second wolf hunting season will end January 6, 2013, or when the quota of 400 dead wolves is met, depending on which comes first.

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