Minnesota DNR finalizes new wolf management plan

Minnesota officials have officially finalized the state’s new plan to guide wolf management for the next 10 years.

Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released the updated wolf plan, which features six goals:

  • Maintain a well-connected and resilient wolf population.
  • Collaborate with diverse partners to collectively support wolf plan implementation.
  • Minimize and address human-wolf conflicts.
  • Inform and engage the public about wolves in Minnesota.
  • Conduct research to inform wolf management.
  • Administer the wolf program to fulfill agency responsibilities and the needs of the public and partners.

The DNR says the plan emphasizes cooperation and collaboration between state, tribal, local and federal governments, as well as other partners. It was finalized after the agency received input, consulted with experts and tribal members, and convened a 20-member advisory committee.

It’s the first update to the state’s wolf management plan since 2001.

“The DNR is continuing Minnesota’s longstanding commitment to wolf conservation and ensuring that our wolf population remains healthy and stable,” Kelly Straka, the DNR’s wildlife section manager, said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who engaged in the planning process. Minnesotans’ involvement has been critical to establishing the comprehensive vision for wolves that is reflected in this plan.”

While announcing the plan, the DNR estimated the state’s wolf population — which has been stable over the past five years — to be around 2,700. The state estimates wolf population peaked at just over 3,000 in 2004 but dropped to around 2,200 by 2013.

Factoring in recolonized portions of Wisconsin and Michigan, the DNR estimates the regional population to be above 4,000. That’s significant, given there are only an estimated 6,000 gray wolves in all of the lower 48 states, so nearly half are in Minnesota.

Under the new plan, a wolf population between 2,200 and 3,000 is considered the optimal population level, and levels outside that range would lead officials to consider measures to address the population change, if necessary.

The department noted that, while Minnesotans have a wide range of interests and perspectives in wolf management, 87% of those surveyed believe it’s important to maintain a wolf population in the state.

Click here to read the department’s new plan.