2 states launching first wolf hunts

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MADISON, Wis. -- For years, vacationers and farmers across northern Wisconsin and Minnesota have heard the eerie howl of the gray wolf and fretted that the creatures were lurking around their cabins and pastures, sizing up Fido or Bessie.

The tables are about to turn: Both states plan to launch their first organized wolf hunts in the coming weeks.

The hunts won't be anything on the scale of the two states' beloved whitetail deer hunts, when hundreds of thousands of hunters rearrange work and school schedules and fan out across the woods. Both states have limited the number of wolves hunters can kill and capped the number of permits, creating an exclusive club of hunters who will get what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take on the wiliest of predators.

Anticipation is rising, but most hunters will come face-to-face with a sobering fact within a few hours of venturing into the woods: wolves aren't deer or ducks. They're intelligent, mobile creatures with an unmatched sense of smell.

The states could be hard-pressed to meet their kill goals.

"Everybody's gung-ho to go kill a wolf but nobody realizes how hard it's going to be," said Bud Martin, a Montana-based hunting guide who shot a wolf two years ago in Idaho. "I'll bet you a steak dinner your quota won't be met."

Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming allow wolf hunting. Federal officials removed Great Lakes wolves from the endangered list in January.-- AP

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