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Managing Minnesota's Recovered Wolves

L. David Mech

Abstract: The Minnesota wolf (Canis lupus) population was estimated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at 2,450 during winter 1997-1998 and had increased at an average annual rate of 4.5% since winter 1988-1989. The population may be removed from the federal endangered species list by 2002, and management would then return to the state. A federal recovery team recommended a population goal of 1,250–1,400 wolves for Minnesota, with none in the agricultural region. A plan approved by the Minnesota legislature, however, continues the protection of wolves, except for pet and livestock depredation control, for at least 5 years after delisting. I compare number of wolves of the 1997-1998 population that would have to be killed each year by humans for various types of control versus numbers if the population continued to expand. For the 1997-1998 population those numbers are—in addition to natural mortality, depredation control, and illegal and incidental take—at least 110 wolves and probably many more to limit wolf range, 685–1,149 wolves for sustained yield, and 929–1,956 to reduce the population. Given conservative assumptions, continued livestock depredation control, and a 4.5% rate of population and range increase as occurred during the past decade, comparable figures for 2007 are at least 171 wolves to limit range expansion, 1,064–1,786 for sustained yield, and 1,444–3,042 to reduce the population. The trend in the population since 1997-1998 is unknown, but these numbers illustrate the magnitude of the potential problems that could arise in managing Minnesota's wolves under various scenarios.

Key words: Canis lupus, control, endangered species, management, population, recovery, wolf

This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication 1126):
Mech, L. David.  2001.  Managing Minnesota's recovered wolves.  
     Wildlife Society Bulletin 29(1):70-77.

This resource should be cited as:

Mech, L. David.  2001.  Managing Minnesota's recovered wolves.  
     Wildlife Society Bulletin 29(1):70-77.  Jamestown, ND: 
     Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 23OCT2001).

Table of Contents

L. David Mech, United States Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th St. SE, Jamestown ND 58401-7317, USA; present address: North Central Research Station, 1992 Folwell Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA; e-mail:
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