An influential group of Minnesota senators is backing a five-year moratorium on sport hunting and trapping of wolves in Minnesota.
The chief sponsor is Majority Whip Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center. The co-sponsors include Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie; Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul; and Sens. David Senjem, R-Rochester; and Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, according to a news release Thursday from Howling for Wolves.
Minnesota wolves were taken off the endangered list last year, and hunting and trapping resumed last fall.
Maureen Hackett, founder of Howling for Wolves, said they're trying to restore a five-year moratorium that used to be in state law for when wolves came off the list. Lawmakers lifted the moratorium when they authorized the hunt last year, citing years of delays caused by court battles over lifting the federal protections.
Hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves during the recently ended season. Hackett points out that state figures show farmers and property owners legally killed another 298 for predator control last year. The figures don't include poaching, road kills or deaths from disease.
No hearing date has been scheduled, and no companion bill has been introduced in the House.
The Department of Natural Resources says Minnesota's wolf population is stable at around 3,000 and can withstand the hunting, trapping and predator control that the state allows under its wolf management plan.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, who entered the lottery for a wolf hunting license last year but didn't get one, said he expects the bill will get a hearing -- but that doesn't mean he's on board.
"Most people where I live would say the wolf is a game species. That's how it's defined in law. A game species is no different than other predators or deer or grouse or birds -- they're populations that need to be managed," Bakk said.
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