MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- People fighting the state's controversial wolf hunt appealed to fans of a different kind of wolf in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday night.
As Timberwolves fans filed in for the season opener, many of them encountered advocates for real wolves inside Target Center.
It was a high-profile effort to get sympathy and signatures.
The group Howling For Wolves paid to be the "nonprofit of the game." It's a program the Timberwolves and Lynx have offered for years.
Groups that pay $2,000 get 100 tickets, an informational booth in the concourse and a video on the scoreboard at halftime.
Howling For Wolves founder Maureen Hackett said it was a chance to reach people who already have an affinity for wolves.
"We want to let fans know that really the Legislature and the governor are able to stop this hunt along with the DNR," she said.
Minnesota had its first regulated wolf hunt last year, shortly after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the wolf off the endangered species list.
Hunters claimed more than 400 wolves last season, but this year's limit has been lowered to 220.
"The DNR has said they do not know the effect of this hunt on the wolf population yet," Hackett said. "They won't know for a while, but yet we're going forward with the hunt."
This year's hunt is set for Saturday, Nov. 9.
But before then, the group is gathering signatures opposing the hunt to give to Gov. Mark Dayton,
"We are probably going to get 50,000 signatures by November 9th," Hackett said, "of people all over the world and people throughout the United States along with Minnesotans."
Judy Morneau signed the petition Wednesday at the Timberwolves home opener against Orlando.
"I'm concerned with the wolf hunt that we could eradicate wolves, just like so many other states have," she said.
No one at the DNR would go on camera with WCCO-TV Wednesday, but they did issue a statement.
It says: "People's opinions about wolves and wolf hunting vary, but the DNR's approach to managing them remains unchanged.
The department is committed to their long-term survival and will continue to protect them while addressing wolf-human conflicts."
The Timberwolves issued a statement of their own, reading "The Timberwolves and Lynx organization offer the opportunity for a wide variety of groups to participate in our group sales non-profit program. The presence of Howling For Wolves tonight does not constitute a team endorsement of their views. We welcome group(s) of opposing viewpoints to apply to have an in-game presence at Target Center this season with our group sales non-profit program."
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