Delisting of Grey Wolves in Minnesota

The following is a copy of a letter I received from Minnesota’s U.S, Senator, Amy Klobuchar in response to a request I sent to her, asking her not to oppose a bill that would delist Minnesota’s grey wolves from the Endangered Species list and explaining why. The amount of information a U. S. Senator must know to preform her duties is incredible, but as you can see from this letter, Senator Klobuchar is even well versed on this matter. It is good to know Minnesota’s enormous number of outdoor enthusiasts are well represented in Washington, D.C.


April 11, 2016

Dear Dr. Nordberg:

Thank you for contacting me about Minnesota’s gray wolf population. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

As required by the Endangered Species Act, in 1978 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established a population goal of 1,250 to 1,400 wolves for the state of Minnesota to ensure the population’s long-term survival. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the most recent estimates of Minnesota’s wolf population indicate that there are approximately 2,423 wolves in the state.

This increase in the wolf population provides strong evidence that the Endangered Species Act has been successful and the gray wolf should be delisted. The Endangered Species Act is a tool that has helped bring numerous species back from the brink of extinction by protecting them until they can maintain a stable and viable population. While I support the Endangered Species Act, I do not believe its provisions and regulations are suited for the permanent protection of a recovering species.

That is why I sent a letter in 2010 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting a scientific review of Minnesota’s wolf population to determine if a new designation is needed, and if appropriate, to remove the wolf from the list of endangered species. On January 27, 2012, gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan were removed from the list of endangered and threatened species and with the support of wildlife groups, the federal government transferred responsibility for wolf management to the states and tribes.

After the federal decision was made, a number of groups chose not to litigate this matter any further in court. But some groups did and as a result the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 delisting and limited the ability of the State of Minnesota to manage the wolf population. The litigation and the resulting decision have created uncertainty for many in our state and it has interrupted management of the species by state and federal wildlife agencies. I believe the decision should be reversed.

I have urged the Interior Department to take action to ensure that the State of Minnesota can continue to successfully manage its gray wolf population. I am confident that the Endangered Species Act has served its purpose in protecting the gray wolf and that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is capable of managing the population. That’s why on March 28, 2015 the National Wildlife Federation made official its support for delisting the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan with management authority returning to those states. As we continue to see the number of wolves we are seeing today, I will continue to advocate for delisting.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I continue to be humbled to be your Senator, and one of the most important parts of my job is listening to the people of Minnesota.  I am here in our nation’s capital to do the public’s business. I hope you will contact me again about matters of concern to you.


Amy Klobuchar

United States Senator

Letter to Minnesota Senators concerning the Wolf Bill

Dear Senator Klobuchar,

My name is Dr. Ken Nordberg. I am 81 years old and I’ve been a Minnesota deer hunter 71 of those years. After retiring from Dentistry in 1980, I became an outdoor writer. I am well known for my hunting-related studies of white-tailed deer (plus black bears and wolves) in Minnesota and elsewhere in the U.S. since 1970. My primary whitetail study area since 1990 is located in northern St. Louis County. I have written more than 700 magazine articles and published thirteen books based on my studies since 1988 and I am about to publish two more books (I once sat beside your father at a book signing). I’ve been a feature writer, writing about whitetails and whitetail hunting for Midwest Outdoor Magazine throughout the past 25 years.

My reason for writing to you is to ask you to not oppose the delisting of Minnesota’s grey wolves from the Endangered Species List. Decades of opposition to delisting wolves in the past on the premise “wolves within specific geographic regions should not be delisted when the greater population is still endangered” has allowed grey wolves in northeastern Minnesota to become overabundant to the extent that what was once one the best regions in Minnesota to hunt white-tailed deer (with populations up the 22 deer per square-mile) has become a state region least populated by whitetails. In some areas in the Arrowhead there are now as few as 2–4 deer per square-mile, according to recent MDNR surveys.

Though brain worms, carried by unaffected deer, are blamed by our MDNR for the current decline of moose in northeastern Minnesota (moose are declining everywhere in North America even where whitetails are not found), recent studies have proven grey wolves kill more of our moose than any other cause. Moreover, because young wolves can no longer find areas large enough to establish new home (hunting) ranges in northeastern Minnesota, they are now seeking ranges southward into urban and farm areas beyond the Twin Cities and eastward across Wisconsin into Upper Michigan. Young wolves cannot find new ranges across the border in adjacent Ontario because wolf numbers there are now at a historic high. The truth of the old axiom, “where predator numbers are high, numbers of their primary prey will be low and where predator numbers are low, numbers of the primary prey will be high,” couldn’t be better proven than by current populations of wolves, deer and moose in northeastern Minnesota.

Whatever can be done to try to halt the decline of moose and restore numbers of deer in our Arrowhead Region is seriously handicapped by our MDNR’s inability to control wolf numbers. To allow this dilemma to continue longer would certainly have serious consequences far into the future.

Again, please do not oppose the delisting of Minnesota grey wolves.


Dr. Ken Nordberg

Attention Minnesota Deer Hunters

Attention MN deer hunters: March 13th is the deadline for telling our MDNR what you think about its plan to reduce deer numbers in NE Minnesota in an attempt to stop the current decline of moose in that region.

Our whitetails are being blamed for this decline because they are not affected by brain worms and are thus considered “carriers” of brain worms that are known to kill moose (not all of them). Brain worms have been passed back and forth between whitetails and moose via certain slugs and snails throughout the highs and lows of moose populations in recent decades and likely ever since moose migrated from Asia to North America 13,500 years ago. Moose researchers almost everywhere in North America today believe the current continent-wide decline of moose has multiple causes, including other parasites such as liver flukes and winter ticks, poor health related to insufficient moose habitat, climate change and wolf depredation. Underneath it all, especially following climate change, moose may simply be poorly adapted to living in North America today. Actually, the long-protected, increasingly-abundant gray wolves of northeastern Minnesota (now at a historic high just across the border in Ontario) kill more moose than anything else. Logically, our overabundant wolves have much if not most to do with low and declining numbers of remaining deer (which are unaffected by brain worms) and moose in the Arrowhead Region. No one disputes the fact that when and where wolf numbers are high, numbers of their primary prey, deer and moose, can be expected to be low and when wolf numbers are low, numbers of their primary prey can be expected to be high. Hunting by humans has had little effect in this region, as few as one deer taken per ten square-miles in recent years.

What our declining moose need most today is a drastic reduction of Minnesota wolves (seemingly impossible under current circumstances), an increase in numbers of easier-to-catch deer to reduce moose depredation by wolves and more improved moose habitat (including more of what moose eat to survive winters such as second-growth quaking aspens), long scarce in and around the heart of Minnesota’s Moose Management Area, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Our DNR plans to reduce numbers of whitetails in northeastern Minnesota’s Moose Management area (almost all of Arrowhead Region east of a line from Duluth to International Falls), to reduce the passage of the larval form of brain worms from deer to moose. Deer numbers in this region have never recovered from massive losses due to severe winters in the 1960s, after wolves became protected by the Endangered Species Act in 1972, and recent severe winters have reduced deer numbers there again, an estimated 2–4 deer per square-mile now not uncommon in this region according to recent DNR surveys. Logically, this has forced wolves to increase their dependence on moose meat.

If deer numbers are further reduced in this region, the grey wolves will become almost wholly dependent on moose meat, exacerbating the moose decline. Our DNR’s plan will not only adversely affect moose and deer numbers in what was once one of Minnesota’s finest whitetail hunting regions, but adversely affect wolves as well, likely forcing them to migrate south into urban and farm regions in search of food throughout Minnesota and east into Wisconsin and Upper Michigan as well, which is already happening. Our DNR is asking for public input on this moose plan. Please inform our DNR you do not approve of it before the deadline of March 13th. Your input can have great influence on the outcome. Call 651-296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR, send an email to or write to DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040. Please do it today!

Thank you,

Dr. Ken Nordberg

Minnesota’s New Moose Research & Management Plan

After studying the Minnesota Moose Research and Management Plan just released by our Department of Natural Resources, I believe this plan to bring a halt to the vexing problem of dwindling moose numbers in our state is as well-conceived and as scientifically sound as it can be under current circumstances. What I mean by “under current circumstances” is this: based wholly on what I have annually discovered in one small portion of Minnesota’s designated moose management area since 1990, I believe any plan that does not take into account the enormous impact our overabundant, long-unmanaged grey wolves have been having on moose and deer is terribly handicapped. I realize our DNR is currently powerless to manage our wolves, protected by federal judges and the Endangered Species Act. Nonetheless I can’t help but fear reducing deer numbers in the moose management area may not only force wolves to kill greater numbers of moose, exacerbating their demise, but force wolves to kill a greater percentage of remaining deer as well. This wouldn’t be good for moose, deer or wolves far into the future.

However, I also understand the urgency to proceed with this plan. Without trying to save our moose and without the funded research necessary to succeed, we may loose them all and never know why.

Minnesota Moose Research and Management Plan

DNR’s Main Page on Moose (Has a link to the new management plan.)

DNR’s Moose Hunting Page  (Has a link to the new management plan.)