Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 2001, 29(1):70-77
The Minnesota wolf (Canis lupus) population was estimated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at 2,450 during winter 1997-1998 and had increased at an average annual rate of 4.5°% since winter 1988-1989. The population may be removed from the federal endangered species list by 2002, and management would then return to the state. A federal recovery team recommended a population goal of 1,250-1,400 wolves for Minnesota, with none in the agricultural region. A plan approved by the Minnesota legislature, however, continues the protection of wolves, except for pet and livestock depredation control, for at least 5 years after delisting. I compare number of wolves of the 1997-1998 population that would have to be killed each year by humans for various types of control versus numbers if the population continued to expand. For the 1997-1998 population, those numbers are in addition to natural mortality, depredation control, and illegal and incidental take at least 1 10 wolves and probably many more to limit wolf range, 685-1,149 wolves for sustained yield, and 929-1,956 to reduce the population. Given conservative assumptions, continued livestock depredation control, and a 4.5% rate of population and range increase as occurred during the past decade, comparable figures for 2007 are at least 171 wolves to limit range expansion, 1,064-1,786 for sustained yield, and 1,444-3,042 to reduce the population. The trend in the population since 1997-1998 is unknown, but these numbers illustrate the magnitude of the potential problems that could arise in managing Minnesota's wolves under various scenarios.
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