By John Myers, Forum Communications
ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday said it will not stop the state’s upcoming wolf hunting and trapping seasons, denying a request for preliminary injunction filed by wolf supporters.
The injunction had been sought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves, which claimed that the state Department of Natural Resources failed to follow administrative rules when developing details for the seasons, especially failing to take public comments on the seasons.
The ruling by a three judge panel means the first ever Minnesota wolf hunting season will start Nov. 3, with a trapping season starting Nov. 24. Up to 400 wolves can be killed under the state’s upcoming sport seasons.
In a three-page ruling, the court said that “petitioners assert that they will suffer irreparable injury to their ability to observe wolves, and to their aesthetic interests in wolves, if this court does not enjoin enforcement of the DNR’s rules. But petitioners fail to identify any claimed irreparable harm attributable to the DNR rules, rather than the legislature’s decision to authorize wolf hunting and trapping and to determine when the firearms season will open.
“Accordingly, because petitioners failed to demonstrate the existence of irreparable harm, they are not entitled to injunctive relief.”
Collette Adkins Giese, a Minneapolis-based attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said she was “deeply disappointed by the court’s decision, which unleashes 6,000 hunters and trappers to go out and kill 400 wolves. It weighs heavy on my heart that hundreds of wolves will be shot or suffer and die in traps and snares.”
Adkins Giese said the lawsuit itself could continue but that any trial couldn’t happen before this year’s seasons occur. She said the groups also could appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said he was “pleased with the court’s decision. It resolves any uncertainty that hunters and trappers might have had about the upcoming season.”
Through the 1960s wolves were considered vermin in Minnesota with no reasons or season required to kill them, and with the state paying a bounty for their hides.
Minnesota now has an estimated 3,000 wolves, up from fewer than 500 in the 1970s when the animal was placed on the federal endangered species list and protected. With wolf numbers now stable or rising, the federal government recently moved to remove wolves from the endangered list and hand their management back to states and Indian tribes.
Minnesota lawmakers this year compelled the DNR to move forward with a wolf season, including moving it earlier to occur during the state’s firearms deer hunting season.
The DNR received more than 23,000 applications for the 6,000 available licenses. Lottery winners, who also will receive notification and wolf hunting regulations via postal mail, now may purchase their licenses from a DNR license agent, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense.
Wisconsin also will see its wolf season start later this month, although court action has stopped or at least delayed the use of hounds for wolf hunting in Wisconsin.