A plan for wolves

The DNR is updating the state’s wolf management plan.

Although Minnesota has an existing wolf plan, periodic assessments are needed to evaluate the plan’s efficacy and make improvements where needed.

The DNR’s wolf plan is 19 years old. It was developed through extensive public input, supported by the federal government and was intended to provide guidance for Minnesota to transition from federal to state wolf management authority.

New info, new strategies

The wolf status has fluctuated, and with it so has the proportional amounts of state and federal management authority and activities.

Nevertheless, there may be new information and strategies for improving wolf management.

Although much of the plan is still relevant, the wolf planning process is intended to identify how the plan can be improved and potentially set goals and objectives for improving wolf management strategies.

Path to an update

Path to update graphic with trail and bubbles that state: 2019 fall DNR invites Minnesota tribes to participate in process; 2019 fall and winter DNR initiates survey of 10,000 Minnesotans to accurately assesses their attitudes and preferences concerning wolf management. 2 2020 summer and fall DNR meets four times with 20-member Wolf Advisory Committee that represents diverse interests. 2020 fall DNR seeks public input via online public meetings, online input site and more. 5 2020 summer and fall DNR meets four times with technical committee of state, federal, tribal and university wolf experts. 4 2021 summer, DNR writes first draft of wolf plan based on wildlife science, the societal interests of Minnesotans and the recommendations of committees and tribes. 6 2021 summer, DNR releases draft wolf plan for public comment.7 2021 fall DNR evaluates comments it received and prepares final plan for Commissioner’s Office approval. 8Click to enlarge 

The time has come to make technical revisions, identify strategies and objectives to improve wolf conservation, and evaluate public attitudes that may influence how wolves are managed.

Successful recovery

Currently, Minnesota wolves fall under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act with the state overseeing certain management activities.

The wolf population made a remarkable recovery under the Endangered Species Act, and has been considered one of the most successful species recoveries since the law was passed.

Should wolves be removed from the Endangered Species Act, wolf management will revert to state and tribal authority. However, there still needs to be direction from the plan on how we best manage the Minnesota wolf population regardless of the legal status.

Questions and answers

What does the wolf plan do?

The wolf plan describes and provides guidance on how the state manages wolves. This includes wolf population monitoring, population management, depredation control, public safety and more. Updates to the plan are expected to be completed in the fall of 2021 following a public review process.

How is the DNR collecting input?

The DNR is collecting input in five ways:

  • Online public comments — comment opportunity was available Sept. 29-Nov. 20.
  • Virtual public meetings — Events took place for the northwest region, Tuesday, Sept. 29; central and southern region, including Twin Cities metro area, Tuesday, Oct. 6; and northeast region, Thursday, Oct. 8. 
  • Public attitude survey — completed and available online
  • Public/stakeholder advisory committee
  • Input from a technical panel of state, federal and tribal wolf experts

The Department of Natural Resources wants you to contribute to the new Minnesota wolf plan. To receive updates on progress and how to provide input subscribe to our wolf newsletter.

What do Minnesotans value?

To ensure that wolf plan authors understand Minnesotans’ current values, beliefs and attitudes toward wolves, the DNR contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey through the Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Minnesota to survey nearly 10,000 Minnesota residents.

The survey focused on Minnesota households, resident adult firearms deer hunters and livestock producers. The report is available on the DNR website.

Key findings include:

  • Minnesotans agree that maintaining a wolf population in Minnesota is important.
  • Residents, on average, felt that they would like to see wolf numbers remain the same, and for wolves to occupy about the same amount of habitat in the state.
  • The survey found that 80 percent or more of livestock producers and deer hunters support establishing both a wolf hunting and wolf trapping season. That level of support is considerably higher than the level of support indicated by the general public. Support among residents is split along ideological lines (41 percent support hunting, and 30 percent support trapping).
Are Native American values considered?

Yes. The DNR is committed to working with tribal governments. While Native American people and tribes have individual perspectives, history indicates that tribes in Minnesota generally did not consider wolves to be a threat or game, but held the wolf in high regard for spiritual and traditional purposes. Native Americans still hold wolves in high regard today.

Will wolf experts weigh in, too?
Yes. A technical work group will review wolf plan components, provide assessment and evaluation of the plan and make recommendations on population monitoring, research and management, and evaluate recommendations for sustaining wolf populations in Minnesota. This expert group is comprised of agency and organizations involved in wolf management and research in Minnesota.
Who is on the Advisory Committee?
The committee consists of 20 stakeholders from throughout the state. The DNR selected committee members as part of an intentional effort to include diverse perspectives, including hunting and trapping; wolf advocacy and animal rights; livestock and agriculture; forestry, conservation and environmental protection; and local government. The committee has been charged with providing perspectives, reacting to suggested changes, broadening our understanding about how Minnesotans experience wolves, and identifying what areas of wolf management they would like to see changes being made, particularly around areas where there may be controversy.

 

Image of a the wolf hunting fact sheet

Get the fact sheet

Download this information in an easy-to-print format: Wolf management planning process overview.