Minnesota's wolf hunt will go forward this year after the courts dismissed a prior challenge to the state's wolf hunting and trapping seasons, finding in favor of the state's Department of Natural Resources and against those seeking to ban the activity outright.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that wolf hunting opponents, such as Howling for Wolves and the Center for Biological Diversity, lacked the standing to challenge the state's inaugural wolf hunt last fall
, TwinCities.com reported.
Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources decision to allow wolf hunting stems from a 2012 decision by the federal government to strip the animal of Federal Endangered Species Act protections, ending a four-decade ban on the hunting and trapping of the once protected predator.
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Grey wolves had once nearly been hunted to extinction in the United States.
In his ruling, the judge said the proponents of the ban failed to show how the state's Department of Natural Resources ignored its own rule-making process, which had been the claim by ban proponents. Instead, the judge suggested that the wildlife nonprofit's criticism should have been with the state lawmakers who paved the way for a hunt by removing a moratorium two years ago, TwinCities.com reported.
"Rather, it is apparent that petitioners' disagreement is with the Legislature's policy decision to permit wolf hunting," Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman wrote in his opinion dismissing the suit. "In sum, petitioners do not assert that the wolf rules cause unique harm to their aesthetic interest in wolves."
Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder of Howling For Wolves, criticized the court's decision to effectively lift the ban.
"It’s hard to put into words our disappointment and sense of injustice over this decision
," Hackett said in a Tuesday press release. "Minnesotans have a legitimate concern about the care and management of our wolves and all our natural resources. The public’s input should not be disregarded just because it’s convenient for the DNR."
Hackett added that the group is currently weighing its options, contending that the majority of Minnesotans – 66 percent according to a poll commissioned by the organization, oppose the trapping and snaring of wolves.
"I don't know where you can go if you can't go to the judiciary and you can't go to the Legislature," Hackett told reporters Tuesday. "We're not a referendum state. And a constitutional amendment? That's pretty intense."
Minnesota isn't the only Midwestern state where wolf hunting advocates are gaining ground.
In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder recently gave the state's Natural Resources Commission the authority to decide which animals can be hunted.
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Snyder's decision rendered a petition signed by 250,000 residents to put the wolf hunting question on a ballot in 2014 nearly meaningless.
Additionally, last fall Wisconsin held its first hunting and trapping season that included wolves and a second season is in the works.
Under Minnesota state law, the first day of wolf hunting must be the first day of the state's two-week gun deer season, reports TwinCities.com.
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