MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A bill introduced this week in Minnesota would prohibit hunting and trapping wolves in the state for at least five years, lawmakers said.
Hunting would be allowed to resume after the end of the moratorium only if population management was "deemed necessary" and other means for controlling the wolf population are explored, the bill's supporters said.
"The people of Minnesota don't want the wolves hunted," the bill's chief sponsor, Majority Whip Chris Eaton, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We have bipartisan support."
A total of 413 wolves were killed during the 2012 hunting and trapping season, the state's first since gray wolves were taken off the federal protection list last year. Another 299 were killed last year to protect livestock or pets.
"I have a real concern about the sustainability of the gray wolf with that kind of a hunting season," Eaton said.
State and federal wildlife biologists have said the wolf population could withstand such losses and the population is expected to remain steady at about 3,000, the Star Tribune reported.