ST. PAUL -- Wolf advocates held a mock funeral for the gray wolf Thursday at the Capitol, a day before lawmakers were to look at the issue of wolf management for the first time this year.
To the beat of a single drum, pallbearers lifted a makeshift coffin carrying a wolf pelt up the Capitol steps. They stopped at an area dotted with Styrofoam headstones bearing epitaphs such as ''Wolf: Victim of the Bounty Hunter.''
The demonstration was in opposition to a revised Department of Natural Resources plan for managing the state's growing wolf population. A proposal developed by a citizens' roundtable representing all sides of the issue died in the final days of the session last year.
Sen. Gary Laidig, R-Stillwater, was to present three wolf management proposals today to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, including the House version from last year, the Senate version from last year and the DNR's revised plan.
''This is an extremely bad plan for the wolf and for the state,'' state Sierra Club Director Ginny Yingling said of the DNR plan. ''We're essentially declaring an open season on the wolf in two-thirds of the state.''
The DNR proposal divides the state into two management areas: an agriculture zone and a wolf zone.
Within the agricultural zone, landowners could kill wolves at any time to protect property. Outside agriculture areas, including much of the northern part of the state, wolves could be killed by ranchers if they were caught pursuing, attacking or killing livestock or pets.
The roundtable's plan would have prohibited any hunting or trapping for at least five years after the wolf was taken off the endangered species list, but allowed farmers to shoot wolves they caught attacking pets or livestock -- essentially what would be allowed in northeastern Minnesota under the new DNR plan.
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