Funding extended to trap wolves preying on livestock

Published 7:52 am Friday, October 20, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that it has come up with money to trap wolves that prey on livestock through the end of the year, a week after federal money ran out for helping Minnesota farmers and ranchers.

Members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week, asking him to make emergency funding available. Signing the letter were Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and Reps. Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, Tom Emmer and Tim Walz. They heard back late Wednesday that the agency has found the money.

“I wanted to let you all know that we have agreed to fund control activities for the remainder of the year,” Chris Needham, a USDA congressional relations specialist, wrote to them. “We are also providing the yearly funding for control efforts for the next year.”

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In their letter, the lawmakers cited Minnesota’s growing wolf population, which rose to an estimated 2,900 last winter, an increase of 25 percent in one year.

The federal government provides trapping services for farmers and ranchers facing problem wolves, which remain classified as a threatened species in the western Great Lakes region even though their populations have rebounded. Courts have repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list, so it remains illegal for farmers and hunters to shoot them except to protect human life.