Essay

Wolves in Minnesota: Where They Live, Risk to Humans, and Diet

Amazing apex predators, wolves hunt and live in packs. Although wolves were formerly common throughout the United States, the majority of them now reside in Alaska after being driven from numerous other states. There are currently just thirteen states in the union where wolves can be found, with Minnesota hosting one of the bigger populations. Thus, continue reading to find out more about Minnesota’s wolves, including their habitat, diet, and potential threats to people.

How Many Wolves Are There in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, there are between 2,650 and 2,700 wolves. According to the most recent official statistics, the state has 2,691 wolves in 2022. Every four years, Minnesota performs a survey of the state’s wolf population, making population monitoring simple.

Nearly half of all wolves in the lower 48 states are found in Minnesota, and through recolonization, Minnesotan wolves have actually contributed to the recovery of wolf populations in both Michigan and Wisconsin.

In Minnesota, wolves are considered a threatened species and are especially susceptible to habitat loss. Minnesota, on the other hand, has a wolf plan that is specifically focused on keeping the wolf population in the state steady.

Where Do Wolves Live in Minnesota?

As we previously discussed, wolves are found in 13 states in the US, although they were exterminated in many more. Nowadays, wolves make up around one-third of Minnesota’s land area, mostly in the northeast over an estimated 28,561 square miles. Because of their remarkable adaptability, wolves can survive in a vast range of environments. But in Minnesota, they live mostly in wooded areas where there is a plenty of food and cover.

It is estimated that there were once more than 4,000 wolves in the area several hundred years ago. Wolves were formerly far more widespread throughout Minnesota than they are today. A government bounty was established in 1849, which meant that steps were taken to lower the population—between 200 and 250 people were slain annually. Wolves had completely disappeared from the state’s western and southern regions by the middle of the 1950s. The state’s total wolf population was estimated to be between 350 and 700 in 1963. Wolves did, however, formally get federal protection in 1974 and were listed as an endangered species.

In 2012, wolves were removed from the endangered species list; however, in December of 2014, they were added back. Nonetheless, between 200 and 400 wolves were killed annually in Minnesota around that time. In January 2021, they were taken off the list of endangered species once more, but in February 2022, they were placed back under protection.

What Do Wolves Eat?

Since wolves are apex predators, they do not naturally have any predators of their own. They hunt in packs and collaborate to pursue and kill their prey. They are extremely proficient hunters. Wolves are fairly large animals with amazing power, weighing between 60 and 175 pounds.

A great variety of animals can be caught and killed by wolves. But generally speaking, they favour big animals like moose, elk, and white-tailed deer. Although Minnesota has a healthy predator-prey relationship, wolves will nevertheless hunt other creatures like beavers, rabbits, and birds if larger prey isn’t easily accessible.

Are Wolves Dangerous?

In Minnesota, wolves are not thought to pose a significant threat to people, and the possibility of an attack is extremely low. The biggest danger arises when a wolf is startled or trapped, even though the state has extremely few reports of wolf attacks. The lone documented instance involved a 16-year-old boy who needed 17 staples in his skull after being attacked while camping.

Even so, wolves are typically incredibly evasive and reclusive creatures who will go to great lengths to stay away from humans. It’s crucial to stay put if you come upon a wolf. It is suggested that you take a cautious step back instead. Additionally, by educating the public about wolves and wolf conservation, Minnesota’s wolf plan seeks to lessen the likelihood of human-wolf conflict.

While there is little risk to humans in the state, wolves have occasionally attacked cattle. Every year, there are about 100 instances. Since 2007, this have happened on about 2% of farms that are located inside the state’s known wolf range. To stop cattle depredation, nevertheless, a number of strategies can be used. These include of security lighting and livestock guardian animals like dogs, alpacas, and donkeys. Additionally, calving and lambing can be done in safer locations, such the barnyard, to lower the risk.