MINNEAPOLIS - Two groups have filed a lawsuit to try to block the opening of Minnesota's wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves say the Department of Natural Resources failed to provide a proper opportunity for public comment on recently approved rules establishing the wolf hunting and trapping seasons.
"The state rushed to issue wolf hunting and trapping rules without giving people a real chance to voice their opinions," Collette Adkins Giese, a Minneapolis-based attorney with the Center, said in a press release. "Especially considering the tremendous controversy around hunting and trapping of Minnesota's wolves, state officials should have followed the law carefully to make sure they fully understood how the public felt about their decision."
Wolves came off the endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan last January, and the Minnesota Legislature authorized the resumption of wolf hunting and trapping last session. The DNR says the state's wolf population is around 3,000. It issued around 6,000 licenses, with a goal of harvesting around 400 wolves.
The two groups contend the online survey the DNR conducted did not provide an adequate chance for public comment. They're asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a preliminary injunction to block the hunt until the court can rule.
The DNR and the Office of the Attorney General says neither party has been served with or reviewed the petition, and have no comment on this legal proceeding. However, the DNR says that the online survey received more than 7,000 responses from the public. The agency stressed the current season poses no biological or conservation threat to the wolf population.
"The DNR recognizes there is a wide range of opinions toward wolf hunting and trapping, but all Minnesotans should know the DNR's primary wolf management goal is to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "The DNR's conservative approach to this first season is based on sound conservation science and principles."
The DNR also says it received strong direction from the Minnesota Legislature, which held hearings on the proposed season.
The season is due to open Nov. 3.
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