With the Minnesota wolf harvest approaching the target harvest of 400, Department of Natural Resources officials said Wednesday they’re considering closing the late-season hunting and trapping season as early as Thursday, said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist at Grand Rapids.
The only remaining season open is in the Northwest Zone, where the harvest has reached 179 as of today, Stark said. The target harvest for that zone is 187.
But more importantly, the overall harvest for all zones and for both the early and late seasons has reached 393, Stark said. The DNR had set an overall harvest target of 400 wolves this fall.
“We’ve been getting about six (wolf kills) a day,” Stark said. “Yesterday (Tuesday), there were 13.”
He said if officials decide to close the Northwest Zone at the end of the day Thursday, the agency will issue a news release later today.
In the early season, held during the firearms deer season, hunters took 147 wolves.
Communication with hunters and trappers in the ongoing late season was compromised on Tuesday by a computer malfunction. The hotline that hunters and trappers must call before going afield said the season had closed in the Northwest Zone, when actually it has not. DNR officials suspect the erroneous recording was prompted by the change to the new year, said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids.
“This is all done by an outside vendor, and it has to do with the change in the calendar year,” Lightfoot said. “The season is open (in the Northwest Zone), but it is not showing that way on the website or if you call the (hotline) 888 number.”
That problem has not yet been corrected, DNR officials said.
The late wolf hunting and trapping seasons remain closed in the Northeast and East-Central Zones, where the target harvests were reached in December. In the Northeast, hunters and trappers took 58 wolves and the target harvest was 56. In the East-Central Zone, hunters and trappers took nine wolves, and the target harvest was 10.
The late hunting and trapping season began Nov. 24. It was scheduled to close Jan. 31 or whenever the target harvest is reached.