Minnesota's inaugural wolf hunting and trapping season will end later today because the 400-wolf target quota has been reached, and exceeded.
Hunters had registered 405 wolves by Thursday afternoon. Department of Natural Resources officials aren’t concerned that the target quota was exceeded.
“The target harvest numbers are guidelines established as triggers for closing the season,’’ said Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist. “They are not absolute limits that could not be exceeded.’’
And the total kill likely will increase because hunters and trappers have until 10 p.m. tonight to register wolves taken today.
"The season went very, very well,'' DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said Wednesday. "We learned a lot.''
But he acknowledged the first-ever managed wolf season was controversial. "Obviously, there are still people who don't like it,'' he said.
One lawsuit has been filed and three groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the wolf to the Endangered Species List. Barring legal action, however, the agency intends to offer a similar wolf hunting and trapping season in 2013, Landwehr said.
The late wolf season had closed in the northeast and east-central zones, but has been open in the northwest zone. The wolf kill there has increased daily, and stood at 189 at noon Thursday.
Officials announced the season closure on Wednesday, giving hunters and trappers one more day to pursue wolves. The season for wolf hunters closes a half-hour after sunset Thursday; wolf trappers have until 10 p.m. Thursday.
Successful hunters and trappers must bring their wolves to the DNR for inspection and tagging. The last day for that is Friday, by 5 p.m., officials said.