I was driving to work in Minnetonka yesterday evening and listening to MPR radio. In the evening news hour, the station reported on the very controversial inaugural season of Minnesota's wolf hunt. MPR reported that there have been about 60 wolves killed since the beginning of the season last Saturday, most by deer hunters who also had been drawn in the lottery to receive a wolf tag.
The bulk of the report, however, didn't center around the controversy about the wolf hunt or how many had been killed, the main focus was about all the new research and data that can be collected with the onset of a wolf hunting season.
A member of the MN DNR was interviewed and he described all the new things the DNR will be able to know about Minnesota's wolf population from wolves that are harvested. Among this data was DNA samples, dental samples and tissue samples. Uterus' will be collected from female wolves to learn more about population growth and reproduction in wolves.
All of this information soon to be gathered and recorded is new, things that could not be done previously without disturbing a wolf den. Prior the onset of the wolf hunt, DNR members had only been able to radio collar about 60 wolves in Minnesota and were heading into dens when possible. As you can imagine, heading into dens was both dangerous, time consuming and costly.
It was an interesting report about a different type of research being done to help preserve and learn more about Minnesota's vast habitats. I was especially interested in learning that DNR officers had actually located and been inside wolf dens. I can't imagine the costs and dangers that go along with this type of research.
The new methods of research though will yield similar results to the old style of research and will be much quicker and more cost effective; a big win for the DNR's research department undoubtedly.