Wolf hunting is controversial to the non-hunters among us, so it is not advertised and talked about very much by hunters so as not to ruin a much needed tool of wildlife management. In the west, where wolves get the most attention, it is news when one or more is legally killed, but the state of Minnesota quietly eliminated 400 wolves from its state this year and most people did not even hear about it.

Dan Stark, from Grand Rapids, is the state’s large carnivore specialist. He said, “The overall harvest for all zones and for both the early and late seasons stood at 395 on Wednesday afternoon (January 2, 2013), and the target harvest is 400.” Not only has the harvest been a success, but it has also been consistent. Stark adds, “We’ve been getting about six (wolf kills) a day. Yesterday, there were 13.”

The state is divided into hunting zones and two different seasons. The wolf hunting and trapping season in the Northeast and East-Central Zones closed in December. Hunters and trappers experienced steady, successful harvesting during both early and late seasons.

While the wolf taking was not making national news, it was noticed by the same old skeptics. The Center for Biological Diversity, an animal rights group, said via spokesman Collette Adkins Giese, “Watching the state’s wolf season was troubling.” Giese added, “I’ve been haunted by the knowledge that wolves suffered and died because we were unable to stop the hunt.” Giese is an attorney for the organization.

Another detractor of the wolf harvesting is Dr. Maureen Hackett, a psychiatrist and founder of Howling for Wolves, another anti-hunting organization located in Hopkins, Minn. “I think wolf hunting is bad for our culture. It gives the wrong impression about predators in general and specifically about the wolf…there’s no evidence we have too many wolves.”

Of course the Department of Natural Resources disagrees and they claim the taking 400 of the state’s estimated 3000 animals is a very sustainable number. Department biologist L. David Mech claims, “In addition to the hunting and trapping harvest of 400 wolves, another 288 wolves were taken in 2012 in cases of livestock depredation, Stark said. Another 5 percent of the population might die annually because of vehicle accidents or illegal shooting.”

Having a healthy wolf population is good for everyone, but the hunters and trappers of Minnesota are the only ones making sure the canine numbers are being kept in check to maintain a healthy and viable population for all to enjoy.