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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.







The History Of Wolf Management
April 1999

The state of Minnesota paid a bounty on wolves until 1965.

And until 1956, wolves were taken by the Minnesota Department of Conservation (later known as Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) under a wolf-control program which included aerial hunting. From 1969 until 1974, wolves were killed under a livestock-depredation control program.

In August 1974, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 gave legal protection to Minnesota wolves. A maximum penalty for killing a wolf was set at imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

In 1978, a team of federal and state personnel and biologists, designated as the Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Team, devised a wolf recovery plan for wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The plan was updated in 1992.

In 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) initiated a program to control wolf depredation on livestock; the U.S. Department of Agriculture was given responsibility for the program in 1986. Problem wolves were translocated until 1978, when classification of the wolf in Minnesota was changed from endangered to threatened. This allowed the government to kill depredating wolves. The Minnesota Legislature appropriated money in 1978 for a state compensation program to pay farmers for animals lost to wolf depredation. In summer 1978, as a result of a lawsuit by environmental groups against the USFWS, a federal judge placed certain legal constraints on the wolf control program.

In 1980, 1983 and 1991, Minnesota proposed the state take over management of the wolf. The federal government rejected Minnesota's 1980 proposal. In 1983 and 1984, a coalition of environmental groups won legal decisions which blocked a recommendation by the Recovery Team and an effort by the federal government to allow Minnesota a limited public harvest of wolves to supplement the government's control program. The court ruled that public harvesting while the wolf was on the Endangered Species List would be illegal. The Recovery Team rejected the state's 1991 proposal to remove the wolf from the Endangered Species List.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources published an estimate of between 1,500 and 1,750 wolves in Minnesota during the winter 1988-89. The 1997-98 winter population estimate is 2,445. A breeding pack is known to exist as close as 65 miles to the Twin Cities.

According to the 1992 Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan, the wolf can be removed from the endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan if:

1.)  The Minnesota population remains stable or increases from 1992 levels; and

2.)  The combined population of Wisconsin and Michigan exceeds 100 for five consecutive years. The winter of 1996-97 marked the fourth consecutive year that these goals were met.

For more detailed information see the wolf studies on the MFS website.
* Source:
International Wolf Center
1396 Highway 169
Ely, MN 55731-8129
Please visit the Web Site: < http://www.wolf.org >


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