Updating Minnesota's wolf plan

A greay wolfThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is updating the state’s wolf management plan and is looking to the public for input.

To that end, the agency is creating a new wolf plan advisory committee to help inform the update to the management plan. Applications are now open for the committee, which is one of several ways the DNR will engage with the public on the plan.

The DNR believes it is critical to have all voices about wolves at the table during this process. With the public’s input, DNR can effectively evaluate how the wolf management plan is working and identify what may need to be improved.

Drafted in 2001, the state’s wolf management plan provides the framework that guides the state’s decisions about wolf regulations, population monitoring, management, damage control, education, research, and other issues.

In addition to the advisory committee, the DNR will gather public input through:

  • A public perception survey;
  • A public comment period; and
  • Open houses at area wildlife offices.

About the advisory committee

The DNR seeks committee members who represent diverse perspectives, including hunting and trapping; wolf advocacy and animal rights; livestock and agriculture; forestry, conservation and environmental protection; and local governments.

The group's purpose is to provide input to DNR in updating the Minnesota's wolf management plan by developing recommended wolf management options and preferences, with particular emphasis on controversial aspects of wolf management.

Functions and scope
  1. The group will provide input on updating the Minnesota's wolf management plan.
  2. The group will:
    • Represent the breadth of wolf management interests;
    • Listen to all points of view and try to understand interests of others;
    • Openly discuss issues with people who hold diverse views and participate in cooperative discussion to understand differences and find compromise where possible;
    • Clearly articulate and represent interests of their organization, if applicable;
    • Learn about and contribute to understanding biological, social and economic aspects of wolf management, including stakeholder group perspectives;
    • Generate and evaluate options to address issues expressed by group members;
    • Identify and inform DNR of significant wolf management issues;
    • Facilitate dialogue between diverse wolf management interests and DNR regarding issues;
    • If applicable, keep represented constituent groups informed and solicit input; and
    • Advise on effective and publicly acceptable recommendations for wolf management.
  3. The DNR will support the group by:
    • Providing relevant information (e.g., available data, potential management alternatives);
    • Engaging them on wolf program implementation, background and policy;
    • Providing guidance and addressing issues deemed significant by the group; and
    • Fostering dialogue, which will help the wolf advisory group form recommendations for improving wolf management.
Desired outcomes
  • Dialogue that results in a wolf plan that is publicly supported, support for wolf conservation and management and positive outcomes for wolf management in Minnesota.
  • Shared understanding among members, DNR and the public on issues and potential solutions.
  • Effective and well-supported recommendations to update the wolf management plan.
  • Enhanced public-agency collaboration and partnership to support wolf management goals.
Authority

The group is not a decision-making body and has no authority on wolf management policy, research or operations. DNR may seek consensus recommendations from the group, which DNR will strive to incorporate into revisions of the plan along with dissenting views.

Membership

Members will be appointed for the length of the wolf plan update process (approximately January 2020 – January 2021).

Membership will include:

  • At-large, unaffiliated wolf interests (no more than 4).
  • At-large wolf stakeholders representing wolf advocacy and animal rights groups (no more than 4).
  • Representatives of livestock and agriculture interests (no more than 4).
  • Representatives of hunting and trapping organizations (no more than 4).
  • Representatives of forestry, conservation, environmental, local/county governments and other stakeholder organizations (no more than 4).

Group members will apply and be appointed to the group. Organizations must approve their representative’s application. DNR may remove a member from the group based on conduct or inability to participate.

Recommended applicants will demonstrate:

  1. Representation from all geographic regions in Minnesota and familiarity or interest in wolf management;
  2. Diverse wolf management interests, e.g., conservation, advocacy, animal rights, education, hunting/trapping, recreation, livestock, socioeconomic; and
  3. Effectiveness and respect working with those with different experience, background and perspectives.

As part of the wolf plan update process, DNR also will convene a technical workgroup to review wolf plan components; provide assessment and evaluation of the plan; and make recommendations on population monitoring, research and management. The technical workgroup will be comprised of agency and organization staff involved in wolf management and research. Although the technical workgroup will conduct separate meetings as part of this process, at times, members of the technical workgroup may serve as liaisons or advisors to the advisory group and attend advisory group meetings.

Evaluation
DNR will evaluate the group as needed to determine if the group is accomplishing the task of cooperatively advising DNR on updates to the Minnesota's wolf management plan. The group will sunset when DNR completes the updated plan.
Meetings

No less than three half-day meetings will be conducted during the course of the wolf plan update. Meetings will rotate among locations in northern and central Minnesota. DNR will convene each meeting, which will be open to the public. A video-conference attendance option may be available for some meetings.

DNR staff will develop agendas and organize meetings. DNR staff will prepare technical information to inform discussion, including facilitating assistance from subject matter experts as needed. DNR also will provide meeting summaries, which may be made available to the public. Group business shall take place at DNR-convened meetings only.

Participation and communication

Members attend all meetings and arrive familiar with the agenda and any pre-work. Members agree to disclose conflicts of interest (e.g., if a member stands to benefit financially from a decision item). The DNR's large carnivore specialist is the main point of contact for the group. Dialogue is also encouraged among group members and with other DNR staff and technical group members.

Group members are expected to coordinate with the organizations or stakeholder interests they represent and discuss issues and information from the group in their local communities. For external communications, including social media, members are free to express their views as private citizens; however, they should be clear that they do not speak for or represent the wolf advisory group.

Apply for the advisory committee

Please complete the online application to apply for membership on the wolf advisory committee. Questions about membership, the advisory committee and the application process should be directed to Dan Stark, the DNR's large carnivore specialist.