(Northland's NewsCenter)---The de-listing of the grey wolf in Minnesota is raising questions about whether the animal might soon be hunted in the state.
The states grey wolf management plan is designed to protect the population and gives livestock owners more protection against wolf depredation.
Although plans are not set, language changes to an environmental bill passed over the summer could allow for a state wolf hunt as early as fall of 2012.
"Under the original wolf management plan, there would be a five year waiting period before hunting and trapping would be allowed," Jerritt Johnston, Education Director at the International Wolf Center in Ely said.
The jump from being on the federal endangered species list to being included in the harvest season, in less than one year, has some concerned about maintaining a long term population.
"Many biologists have said the hunting of wolves isn't necessarily going to biologically negatively affect wolves in Minnesota or the Great Lakes," Jess Edberg, Information Services Director at the International Wolf Center said. "But, it's certainly a very social issue where the citizens of those areas are going to have a lot to say about it."
Under the management plan, wolves will be allowed to naturally expand their range within the state.
Livestock owners will soon be able to take action against wolves that pose an immediate threat to their property.
"If a wolf is taking specific actions such as stalking, attacking an animal, and its obvious that they are going to attack the animal," Johnston said.
Wolf management officials will begin educating private land owners about the importance of maintaining a habitat suitable for the growing wolf population.
"We might see that land becoming developed at a faster rate then what we've experienced thus far, and that development can affect wolf populations by negative human interaction or by the prey becoming impacted by the habitat change," Edberg said.
Every five years the DNR will monitor the wolf population and evaluate any threats, disease or human caused mortalities.
This is the third time grey wolves have been de-listed since the 1970s.
Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch