Wolves are an important part of our ecosystem in northern Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has an ideal habitat for wolves. Unfortunately, their populations had been significantly reduced in prior years (mid-1960s) due to human persecution, habitat deterioration and prey reduction. Wolf populations were extremely and dangerously low. In 1966, the wolf was listed on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which resulted in an expanding wolf population. Currently, because the wolf is on the Endangered Species List, the only way a wolf can be killed is to protect human life.
Current State of the Wolf Population
No one is questioning the decision to put the wolf on the Endangered Species List in the 1960s. But what is the current wolf population in Minnesota? Right now, the gray wolf population is estimated at 1 for every 10 square miles. Only Alaska has a higher wolf density.
Federal Guidelines for Delisting the Wolf–Is it Time?
The federal guidelines for delisting is a wolf population of 1200-1400. In 2013, the wolf population in Minnesota was estimated at 2200. So based on the federal guidelines, the wolf was delisted in 2012 to 2014.
Nathan Nelson, a farmer near Hinkley, explains the history of the government wolf intervention:
As a result of a successful re-establishment effort, the gray wolf exceeded the target population goals and in 2011 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service returned management of the wolves to individual states. Then the MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) established a hunting season. The first hunting season was held the fall of 2012, a second season the fall of 2013 and the 2014 season was cut short December 19 by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in ruling that returned the gray wolf to protection under the Endangered Species Act