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More than 23,000 apply for Minn. wolf hunt permits

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Would-be wolf hunters are lining up for a shot at an elusive prey this fall, when Minnesota plans to open its first season since the gray wolf came off the endangered species list.

The state received 23,477 applications for the 6,000 permits that it will issue via a lottery system. Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Niskanen said all but a few hundred applicants are from Minnesota, but people from 33 states filed paperwork.

"Clearly there was a lot of interest in the wolf season," Niskanen said.

The season was set in motion after gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan came off the endangered list in January. Wisconsin also has approved a hunt, though litigation may delay it.

Minnesota has set two seasons, with an early season beginning Nov. 3 to coincide with the deer firearms season. A later season is designed to allow trappers to take wolves with their thicker winter pelts.

The state has set a limit of 400 wolves, and hunting will be cut off if the number is reached.

Niskanen said licenses will be awarded by Oct. 14. Residents pay $30 for a license; non-residents pay $250.

Minnesota has the largest wolf population among the lower 48 states, with an estimated 3,000. The state has paid a gradually increasing number of claims on livestock killed by wolves in the past several years.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.