Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board to Hold Special Meeting on Legislative Request For An Immediate Wolf Hunt

Despite the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) issued public statements in December 2020, stating that no wolf hunt would be held in the state until an inclusive process took place, and a new management plan was written, the Natural Resources Board is now considering skipping those steps.

After anti-wolf state legislators held a one-sided public meeting to hear testimony from mostly bear hunters about the “need” for an immediate wolf hunt, before conservation organizations succeed in legal efforts to block a hunt in November 2021, the Natural Resources Board is holding a special meeting on January 22, 2021 to consider their requests.

Wolf Patrol encourages our supporters to register to attend the meeting via Zoom, as well as provide written comments and public testimony. Links to register are included below!

If the Natural Resources Board decides to serve only the interests of those who desire to kill wolves in Wisconsin, and not the overwhelming citizenry who are opposed to hunting, trapping and hounding of wolves, then Wolf Patrol will again take action and document and witness the killing that could begin as soon as February 2021.

Here are some resources from the Timber Wolf Alliance if you need help preparing your written testimony or public comments for this Friday’s meeting. Remember, you must register to speak or provide written comments by Thursday, January 21, 2021!



Don’t Rush into a Wisconsin Wolf Hunt

by Adrian Wydeven, Chair of the Advisory Council for the Timber Wolf Alliance

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a rule to return gray wolf management authority to the states and tribes in most of the Lower 48 states including Wisconsin. The rule will be effective on January 4, 2021. With a healthy wolf population in Wisconsin (at least 1,034 wolves), Michigan (~700 wolves) and Minnesota (~2,700 wolves), it is appropriate that management authority returns to states and tribes in this region.  While the Timber Wolf Alliance congratulates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and tribal conservation departments on the recovery of the gray wolf population in Wisconsin, we are concerned about efforts to initiate a rushed wolf harvest in early January 2021.

Recently, members of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board and a state legislator have suggested that the WDNR should hold a state hunting and trapping season in January and February 2021. The Timber Wolf Alliance strongly recommends against rushing into a harvest.

In 2012, the Wisconsin legislature established a public wolf hunting and trapping season, which requires the WDNR to hold a season every year, if wolves are not listed as threatened or endangered. According to state law the wolf season starts on the first Saturday of November and ends at the end of February, or earlier if the harvest quota were met earlier. 

To conduct a harvest, several steps need to be taken, including (1) establishing a committee to determine harvest quotas, (2) obtaining public and Wisconsin Natural Resource Board approval for harvest quotas, (3) providing a period for hunters and trappers to apply for permits, (4) selecting applicants who will receive harvest permits, (5) getting tags and approvals to successful applicants, and then (6) starting the season and carefully monitoring the harvest.  Similar harvest preparation for bears or antlerless deer takes many months.

Furthermore, in the past, most of the Wisconsin wolf harvest was completed by early winter. Harvests in January and February occur during the wolf breeding season, and have the potential to disrupt breeding activity, precipitate pack dissolution, and increase negative effects a harvest could have on the wolf population. The hunting of wolves in winter would be open to use of hounds throughout wolf range, a method only allowed after the state firearm deer season. These mid-winter disruptions to wolf behavior might also disrupt the ability of wolf trackers to obtain reasonable counts of wolves.

Rushing into a harvest season does not demonstrate stewardship of this public trust resource. Instead it will undoubtedly stoke the fires of controversy, putting the species back in the political spotlight and likely resulting in a lose-lose scenario for all involved. Such tactics have not worked to date as the status of the wolf has been fought over for two decades. Some organizations have already indicated that they intend to challenge the delisting attempt, and rushing into a wolf harvest mere days after wolves are delisted will likely garner support for such causes.

The Timber Wolf Alliance does not oppose the public hunting and trapping of wolves.  Rather we urge the use of sound biological and social science in a transparent, representative process for setting harvest seasons and quotas. These quotas and seasons should ensure sustainable harvests that minimize disruption of wolf packs, maintain the ecological benefits of wolves, are sensitive to cultural concerns of Native Americans, and receive broad public support.  Rushing into a wolf harvest without following the careful steps we follow for deer, bears and other game species is poor wildlife governance.

An immediate 2021 wolf hunt in Wisconsin would be again open to hound hunting.