Wisconsin to Resume Wolf Hunting Season, But What About Minnesota? Written by Tom Steward in Governance on December 10, 2020 Print It took decades for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to get to the point of removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in late October. But it took only days for Wisconsin to embrace its newly restored management authority by becoming the first state to announce the resumption of a wolf hunting season next winter as required by state law upon official delisting in January 2021.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources welcomes the responsibility of again managing wolves in Wisconsin. The department has successfully done so for decades and will continue to follow the science and laws that influence our management. All wolf management, including hunting, will be conducted in a transparent and deliberative process, in which public and tribal participation will be encouraged.
Wisconsin will pick up where it left off, updating a highly regarded wolf management plan that was in place until a federal judge intervened in 2014. The plan attempts to balance the concerns of farmers with vulnerable livestock, hunting and environmental interest groups and the imperative for a thriving wolf population.
The DNR will continue to partner with USDA-Wildlife Services to address wolf conflicts in Wisconsin…Until delisting takes effect, it remains unlawful to shoot a wolf unless there is an immediate threat to human safety. Following the delisting effective date, the DNR may implement all abatement measures as applicable to each situation, which may include lethal control.
Yet rather than welcome the return of local control to the state with more gray wolves than any of the lower 48, Minnesota’s top elected official criticized the decision. Gov. Tim Walz opposes delisting of the wolf for “ecological and cultural reasons” as well as hunting, a tool his predecessor successfully used to manage the wolf population.
Instead of implementing Dayton’s plan, however, the Minnesota DNR is rewriting it, while downplaying the hot button issues of hunting and depredation on its website in the meantime.
We recognize that the USFWS’s delisting decision will give immediate rise to questions about whether Minnesota will establish a hunting or trapping season for wolves. However, we want people to understand that wolf management is about far more than whether hunting and trapping wolves is or is not permitted in Minnesota. Our commitment to a healthy and sustainable wolf population in Minnesota is unwavering.
The gray wolf’s comeback across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is not only a tribute to the Endangered Species Act at its best but also the agencies of every level of government working together. The question is whether the states now back in control can acknowledge their success and move ahead.
Acting on orders of a Jefferson County judge, the Natural Resources Board voted unanimously Monday to authorize a February hunting and trapping season for the gray wolf, which was removed last month from the federal endangered species list.
The DNR will issue up to 4,000 permits based on a recommended quota of 200 wolves.
That’s twice as many permits as recommended by staff, but board member Greg Kazmierski said given the shortened season having more hunters in the field would make it more likely to hit the quota. It would result in about one hunter per four square miles, about 2.5% the density of deer hunters.
Greg Kazmierski Kazmierski
WISCONSIN DNR “It’s not like there will be a wolf hunter behind every tree,” Kazmierski said.
The agency estimates there were 1,195 wolves in the state as of April 2020. The state wolf management plan goal is 350 wolves living outside of tribal reservations.
In a memo to the board, DNR Secretary Preston Cole said public and tribal input was “very limited” and that the Wolf Advisory Committee was unable to meet on the proposed quota, which is designed to ensure stability of the wolf population.
Natural Resources program supervisor Dave MacFarland said it’s hard to predict exactly how the wolf population will respond, especially given the unusual timing of the hunt.
“Even with 1,000 wolves on the landscape, every 10 wolves represents 1% of the population,” MacFarland said. “There’s going to be uncertainty.”
The application period opens at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday through gowild.wi.gov or through a license agent. The DNR will announce drawing results on Feb. 22, and winners can begin hunting and trapping once they purchase a license. The season ends on Feb. 28.
The DNR will then begin accepting license applications for the November season on March 1.
Support Local Journalism Your membership makes our reporting possible. There was no public testimony allowed at Monday’s meeting, but the board received nearly 2,000 written comments after posting a meeting notice Friday.
The wolf hunt has been a contentious issue for years. Those who favor hunting say the animals kill livestock and pets, and terrorize rural residents, while wildlife supporters say the creatures are too beautiful to kill and Native American tribes consider them sacred.
In January, the board narrowly rejected a call from GOP lawmakers to hold a winter wolf hunt amid concerns that the department had not consulted tribal nations as required by treaties and did not have time to set quotas.
But Circuit Judge Bennett Brantmeier ordered the agency to hold a hunt this month after the head of Hunter Nation Inc. sued the DNR, claiming it had violated hunters’ constitutional rights.
The state on Monday asked the court of appeals to put a hold on Brantmeier’s order, arguing he misunderstood the law and that holding a hunt in February will require the DNR to disregard steps in administering a hunting season that are outlined in state law or in tribal treaties.
The Department of Justice asked the court of appeals to rule by 5 p.m. Monday, saying it would avoid the confusion and frustration that would arise if the court were to block the hunt after the application period opens.
An appeals panel on Monday afternoon gave the Kansas-based hunting organization until noon Wednesday to respond.
Natural Resources Board Chair Frederick Prehn said the DOJ did not consult with the board before filing the appeal.
“Court stay or no court stay, our task remains the same,” Prehn said.
Hunter Nation Inc. filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court against Wisconsin DNR Secretary Preston Cole, the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.
"Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold a hunting and trapping season if the gray wolf is not under federal protections. Despite this clear mandate, Gov. Evers, Secretary Cole and the Department of Natural Resources are playing politics and intentionally delaying the wolf harvest to give radical anti-hunting groups time to block the delisting and stop a hunt altogether," Luke Hilgemann, President of Hunter Nation, said in a news release.
The Trump administration delisted the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act on January 4, 2021, triggering a 2011 state law the hunting organization said that requires Wisconsin's DNR to schedule a grey wolf hunting season between November and February.
The DNR's policy board voted 4-3 last month against opening the season by Feb. 10 amid concerns that the department had not consulted tribal nations as required by treaties and did not have time to set quotas, according to Wisconsin's State Journal.
Subscribe Hunter Nation President and CEO, Luke Hilgemann, and Hunter Nation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting America's hunting heritage and the right to hunt, is represented by Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
"The Wisconsin DNR does not have the discretion to determine whether to follow state law when it comes to scheduling a gray wolf hunt. WILL intends to hold Wisconsin's administrative agencies accountable until this pattern of ignoring state law ends," WILL Deputy Counsel, Anthony LoCoco, said.
DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye told Wisconsin's State Journal that the agency "will be reviewing the complaint" and is taking steps to implement a wolf hunt in November 2021. In addition, the agency said it's working towards completing a 10-year wolf management plan that will guide future management decisions for wolves in Wisconsin.
WILL's lawsuit, however, alleges DNR's decision to forgo a gray wolf hunt until November 2021 violates state law and the Wisconsin state constitution's guarantee of a right to hunt. Once the gray wolf was delisted on Jan. 4, the lawsuit claims Wisconsin DNR had an obligation to comply with state law that permits the trapping and hunting of gray wolves for a season between November and February.
Wisconsin last held a wolf hunt in 2014. The DNR estimates the state is currently home to nearly 1,100 wolves in 256 packs, a modern day high.
You have to love the way that they position “wildlife associations” and “environmental organizations” as if they were independent/state science-based organizations and not just HSUS by another name...
“Because of the timing of the hunt, during breeding season, pregnant wolves will likely be killed.”
Never been a better time for hunters to do just that! If we don't band together and get organized, we'll lose the fight very quickly.
Great news that wolves are actually being taken in WI. Now... if MN could just get on board!
The quota should have been doubled knowing the tribes were going to claim their tags which go unused.
I expect lots more legal battles again before the next possible season.
If the logic were to never hunt an animal while pregnant, all deer seasons would be closed after 11/20 in the midwest.
"Although the hunt is scheduled through Feb. 28, it will continue until 200 wolves are slain." Apparently math and facts are not important (or a strong suit of ARA). Per above post, quota is 119 (which is not 20% of 1000) and I would expect at least one zone won't reach quota. So 119 dead wolves is "best case" scenario.
Also do a little research. Assuming population 1000 wolves in the state (per article), this will not affect wolf population growth in the state. (Per studies, overall wolf population must be reduced by greater than 50% annually to reduce population. [Dependent upon age structure in harvest totals])
Another hole. Per DNR, 1000 wolves and 256 packs. Per quick internet search, average pack size for wolves is ~ 6 wolves. (For cheeseheads, that number is the amount of beers in a 6 pack) DNR, please review your Wisconsin math.
I could go on, but I need to eat my Sheboygen brat.
Oh ya and increase the lottery permits issued another 10% to compensate for the permits that members of the Wolf Patrol Project like to burn in protest gatherings.
Huntcell 's Link
in the background is a group of hunters with one dead wolf. nice group photo.
That blows my mind is that I know of 3 groups of houndsmen that killed 2 wolves each on day one with only having a two guys with a tags/weapons. These same groups struggle at times to shoot a coyote when everyone is allowed to carry a weapon with them. Do we have a healthy population???? I think so!!!
Quite the piece of “work” that these wealthy, urban, anti-hunting “furries” choose to support.
And I would agree that the penalties for falsely claiming to have taken an animal under a quota should be the same as for taking the same animal without the proper permits or via illegal methods.
Fair is Fair.
ALF is a radical, left-wing extremest terrorist group. Same genre as ELF...Earth Liberation Front.
The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is the collective name for autonomous individuals or covert cells who, according to the ELF Press Office, use "economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment". Founded in Britain in 1992, it is regarded as descending from Animal Liberation Front because of the relationship and cooperation between the two movements. The Earth Liberation Front has no formal leadership, hierarchy, membership or official spokesperson and is entirely decentralized, instead consisting of individuals or cells who choose the term as a banner to use. Like ALF, ELF emerged as a derivative of another environmentalist organization, Earth First! (EF), which had abandoned its illegal and violent activities by 1992 and become more mainstream. The first known ELF activity in the U.S. occurred in 1996 when members set fire to a United States Forest Service truck in Oregon. VideoVideo: 2008 Igniting a revolution - An… Earth Liberation Front (ELF), also known as Elves is an active group formed c. 1992."
With old math, if you have 1000 wolves and only want 350, you remove 650.
The map above is very cool and educational. Looking closely there is a wolf in the White pack that seems to like living dangerously and venturing far from home pack. Probably some young and dumb male.
Keep up the good work
WI was 650 wolves over the target population. There should have been a season every year. The listing/ delisting seesaw is ridiculous. It's not the licensed hunters who won't adhere to scientific management
And it’s the hunting community that can’t be trusted timberdoodle?!?!?!
Not the wack jobs rallying behind a multiple convicted felon, arsonist and domestic terrorist?!?!?!
Zone 6 supposedly had A total of 58 wolves according to the estimate from April. Forty wolves were taken in that zone in two days with no preparation time.
Seems statistically impossible.
That’s what I keep praying for....
The problem is that the Antis have ZERO skin in the game; they have absolutely NOTHING to lose, because their backers will continue to fund them no matter what.
I mean, if you think about it… WINNING would be the worst possible outcome for these groups, because they would be without any viable argument for their existence. Breaks your heart, doesn’t it? To think of all of those activists and lawyers outta work??
Snif.... (sorry... I just needed a moment…)
I just have to believe that the professional managers are still thinking this all the way through… Hunting is NOT going away, because if the wolf population expands enough, they will chase all of the deer into areas where wolves will not be welcome; if humans don’t control the numbers in those areas, we’ll be up to our eyeballs in ‘em all over again.
But if there are too few deer for humans hunters’ tastes in the areas where they have access to land, then tag sales will drop off to next-to-nothing and there will be no revenue to support the management outside of the state’s general funds.... But the DNR will forever be dependent on volunteer labor to get the actual management done.
Just a thought... Maybe they should raise the price on a Wolf permit; it could probably go pretty high before it would actually deter participation, and they’d make gobs o’ cash off of the protest buyers.
I think a lot of the folks here keep trying to reduce this to a for-profit business model, which is unproductive, because the agencies have a directive to manage the resource responsibly for ALL stakeholders, which includes everyone from hunters to people whose cars gave been totaled from hitting a deer to PETA Karens whose pets get shredded by the larger predators... It’s the DNR’s responsibility to be the Grown-Up in the room...
JMO, Hunters’ interests would be better served lobbying for laws that require science-based management of natural resources and bulletproof the management against feelings-based legislation....
You can’t argue with people whose mental image of wolves includes puppy-dog eyes, so better to focus on things that make sense on principle instead of getting into emotionally charged crap...
The estimate of 1100 everyone keeps quoting is the minimum population, not an estimate of total population. Estimates of total range from 1500 to well over 2000.
The harvest quota set by the DNR and NRB was 200. The tribes tried to interfere with the hunt by claiming their quota they were entitled to as part of their treaty rights, knowing full well they wouldn't harvest any of them. That left 119 quota for the rest of us. 215 wolves were killed in two and a half days, which is 8% over the harvest goal.
The DNR announced at 10 am the second day of the hunt that half the zones would be closing in 24 hours. At 3 pm the same day they announced the closure of the remaining zones.
86% were killed using hounds.
There is a reasonable chance that some of the reported harvests were phoned in by anti hunters that intended to make the hunt look unethical. If that happened it will be discovered because all pelts and carcasses have to be taken to a warden.
The fact that over 200 wolves were killed in 2.5 days with no advance preparation (tags were drawn the morning the hunt started) shows there are way too many wolves in our state.
Many of the harvests occurred in parts of the state nobody ever imagined would have wolves. We'll south of the range of the original timber wolves.
The wolves in WI are descendents of a different subspecies than wolves that were native before being exterpated.
Most of the wolves here now have mixed genetics from crossing with other canines.