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Minnesota wolf management plan to take effect Jan. 27

From Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

-- On Jan. 27 Minnesota's population of wolves transition from federal protection to state management by the Department of Natural Resources, bringing a number of law changes.

The management plan will protect wolves and monitor the population, but also give owners of livestock and domestic pets more protection from wolf depredation.

The plans splits the state into two management zones, with more protective regulations in the northern third, considered the wolf's core range.

The major change with state management is the ability of individuals to directly protect their animals from wolf depredation, subject to certain restrictions. In addition, the state-certified gray wolf predator control program will be available to individuals as another option to deal with livestock depredation.

The Wolf Management Plan has provisions for taking wolves that are posing risks to livestock and domestic pets. Owners of livestock, guard animal or domestic animals may shoot or destroy wolves that pose an immediate threat to their animals on property they own or lease, in accordance with local statutes. "Immediate threat" means observing a gray wolf in the act of stalking, attacking or killing livestock, a guard animal or a domestic pet under the supervision of the owner.

In all cases, a person shooting or destroying a gray wolf under these provisions must protect all evidence and report the taking to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours. The wolf carcass must be surrendered to the conservation officer.

Unlike federal regulations, state regulations allow harassment of wolves that are within 500 yards of people, buildings, livestock or domestic pets to discourage wolves from contacting people and domestic animals. Wolves cannot be attracted or searched out for purposes of harassment and cannot be physically harmed.

Similar to federal regulations, Minnesota's Wolf Management Plan allows anyone to take a wolf to defend human life. Any wolves taken must be reported to a DNR conservation officer within 48 hours, and evidence must be protected.

The DNR has designated three conservation officers in the wolf range as lead officers to ensure enforcement of provisions of the Wolf Management Plan.

The state's wolf population, estimated at fewer than 750 animals in the 1950s, has grown to its current estimate of 3,000. The endangered species act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor wolves in Minnesota for five years after delisting to ensure that recovery continues. Minnesota's Wolf Management Plan establishes a minimum population of 1,600 wolves to ensure their long-term survival in the state.

Federal rules removing the Great Lakes population of wolves from the endangered species list also take effect Jan 27 in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The complete Minnesota Wolf Management Plan, zone maps, population survey information as well as a question and answer fact is available online at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.

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