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FILE - In this July 16, 2004, file photo a gray wolf is seen at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. Minnesota wildlife officials are set to announce details of the upcoming wolf hunting and trapping season. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, file)

DNR cuts wolf quota by nearly half

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DULUTH -- With Minnesota’s estimated wolf population down about 25 percent from last year, Department of Natural Resources officials will allow fewer wolf hunting and trapping licenses this fall, the agency announced Monday.

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The DNR has set the statewide target harvest of wolves at 220, 180 fewer than last season. The season will open Nov. 9, opening day of Minnesota’s firearms deer season.

“The changes are a management response to the most-recent wolf population estimate,” Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist, said in a statement. “As with other game species DNR manages, adjustments are made to regulate hunting pressure and harvest to ensure long-term population sustainability and provide hunting and trapping opportunities.”

This fall’s harvest quota is down from last year’s quota of 400 and an actual harvest of 413 wolves in the state’s first regulated wolf season and the first sanctioned taking of wolves since the 1960s.

The wolf season news comes after a DNR announcement earlier this month that about 2,211 wolves are roaming Minnesota’s northern forest. That estimate, based on a winter-long survey, is down about or 700 animals, from the most recent previous survey in 2008.

Although nearly 25 percent lower than the 2008 midpoint estimate of 2,921 wolves, the population still exceeds the state's minimum goal of at least 1,600 wolves and is above the federal recovery goal of 1,251 to 1,400 animals.

Starting Thursday, hunters and trappers can apply for 2,000 early-season and 1,300 late-season licenses. That’s a reduction from 3,600 early-season and 2,400 late-season licenses in 2012. The deadline to apply for the hunting and trapping license lottery is Sept. 5.

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