The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has set the fall wolf hunt quota at 300 animals. This move more than doubles the Wisconsin DNR’s recommendation of a 130 animal quota.
In February, a court mandated that the DNR must hold a wolf season. This came after Hunter Nation sued the state to hold a wolf hunt immediately. The state had wanted to hold off until the November season, citing that they wanted to get a more up-to-date count of the wolves in Wisconsin.
Hunting Wolves in Wisconsin
Whether it was the weather or that the wolf population was larger than expected. Hunters surpassed the harvest quota in less than three days during the February season. The DNR responded with a statement saying that they should have closed the season on the 1st or 2nd day to get a better feel for how many wolves were being taken. DNR biologists believe that the hunt may have taken a significant toll on the state’s wolf population. The biologists cited that the hunting taking place during the early breeding season may have also slowed reproduction and pup recruitment.
As a result, many pro-wolf groups, who were upset by the hunt and the following news, have set out to try and change the ruling and regulations. However, nothing has changed as of yet with the wolf hunting in Wisconsin.
The DNR felt that the quota of 130 wolves was a conservative number. Their hope was that quota would allow for the “long-term sustainability of the population.” However, The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board felt that was not in line with the state’s wolf management plan that was set back in 1999. In that plan, the state calls for a population goal of 350 wolves. The current wolf population in the state is estimated at somewhere around 900.
The Wolf Quota and a War of Words
The one thing this quota increase has done is ensure that tempers will flare and controversy will continue.
The Natural Resources Board had this to say on its decision:
“The department can’t go against the management plan now of 350.We are stuck with the plan in front of us today. We need to show we’re trying to move toward that goal.” – Board Member Greg Kazmierski
In response the DNR had this to say:
“You are manipulating the number based on tribal declarations. On its face, it’s damn near illegal. You folks are so out of bounds.” – DNR Secretary Preston Cole
Hunter Nation feels that the DNR’s population estimates are incorrect:
“It is our belief…that the population has skyrocketed and the DNR’s current population models that estimate the population at 1,000 animals are broken and beyond repair.” – Hunter Nation CEO Luke Hilgemann
While this is all taking place several national animal-rights groups are suing the federal government to relist wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, local animal-rights groups have sent petitions to the Natural Resources Board asking them to set the quota at 0 wolf permits for the fall hunt. For now, the Wisconsin wolf hunt will begin on November 6th. No matter what happens I’m sure there will be people unhappy with the results.