The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

December 30, 2013

Wolf hunting season ends early with quota exceeded

More wolves killed than target, season closes early

ST. PAUL — Minnesota's wolf season has closed more than a month early after hunters killed a total of 237 wolves, 17 more than the target harvest set by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The season closed Saturday, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1dPmCYU) reported. The season was to run until Jan. 31, or until the 220-wolf target harvest was reached.

Officials aren't concerned that the quota was exceeded.

"They are not absolute numbers, just targets," DNR wolf specialist Dan Stark said recently. "A few wolves over or under (the targets) isn't critical."

Minnesota's east-central wolf zone was closed Saturday after hunters had registered nine wolves. The target in that zone was 10. The northwest and northeast wolf zones were closed earlier.

Hunters and trappers in the northwest zone killed 103 wolves, compared with a target of 89. In the northeast, 37 wolves were killed, four more than the target of 33.

Minnesota's wolf season is split into two — an early hunting-only season that coincides with the firearms deer season, and a late hunting and trapping season. Hunters killed 88 wolves in the early season and 149 wolves in the late season.

Last year was Minnesota's inaugural wolf season after gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list. Hunters and trappers in the state killed 413 animals last year, when the target harvest was 400.

The DNR lowered the goal this year in response to a new population survey showing about 2,211 wolves in Minnesota as of last winter — a 24 percent decline from 2008, but a figure that didn't include this year's surviving pups.

The department issued 3,300 wolf licenses this season, about half as many as in 2012.

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