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Wolves in Minnesota

Shannon Basner / Volunteer / Wolf Song of Alaska

Minnesota is the only state in the Lower 48 where wolves were not wiped out by government control programs. Presently there are approximately 2,445 wolves in Minnesota.

Rabies has never been found in wolves in this area, and healthy wolves generally shy away from humans. There has never been an incident of a healthy wolf attacking people.

Minnesota wolf packs are generally four to six, but packs up to seventeen have been recorded. Adult wolves can weigh 50 to 85 pounds, but the male of the species can weigh from 70 to 110 pounds. The Minnesota wolves prey upon white-tailed deer, beaver, and moose.

In August of 1974, the Endangered Species Act gave legal protection to wolves in Minnesota. The penalty for killing a wolf was, up to one year in prison, a fine up to $20,000 or both. In 1975, wolf control was initiated based upon a depredation of livestock. During this year, wolves could be moved to an alternate location when an incident occurred. This all changed in 1978, when the status of the wolf was changed from endangered to threatened. This allowed the killing of wolves, but only when agricultural damage was done. In 1978, biologists and state personnel created the Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan. This recovery plan was put into motion for wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The goal was to maintain a population of 1,600 wolves in Minnesota and 100 wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan has demonstrated how successful a program with a commitment to protecting wildlife can be. It has motivated other state programs to recognize the imperativeness of protecting the environment and wildlife.

Sources: Minnesotans for Sustainability / International Wolf Center / Minnesota Department of Natural Resources