ST. PAUL — A bid to fully ban wolf hunting in Minnesota appears to have fallen short of reaching the desk of Gov. Tim Walz, who had indicated he likely would have signed it.
The development became clear Wednesday and Thursday, when state lawmakers from both parties presented a compromise agreement on natural resources and environmental policy that left out the ban, which had passed the Democratic-majority House by one vote in a bit of a surprise victory for those pushing for the ban.
To be clear, nothing would have immediately changed for the state’s estimated 2,655 wolves. They’re currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so they can’t be killed except to protect human life.
But the Trump administration has said it wants to strip those federal protections from the wolves, and under current Minnesota policy, that would allow the state to re-open hunting and trapping — as the state did from 2012 to 2014.
Whether the state would actually do that now remains unclear. After the House vote, Walz said he supported a ban, an apparent reversal longstanding state policy.
The Republican-majority Senate never voted on the measure. The contentious issue often breaks along partisan lines — but only roughly so, as a noteworthy contingent of Democrats support wolf hunting. They are state lawmakers from the Iron Range, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former U.S. Sen. Al Franken and former Gov. Mark Dayton.
The compromise agreement that excludes the wolf hunting ban has been endorsed by Walz and legislative leaders from both parties. But technically, it carries no legal weight, as the Legislature is in an odd netherworld after the regular session concluded but before an anticipated special session has been convened.