A a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel cited preliminary estimates released by the state’s Department of Natural Resources showing a nineteen percent decline in the state’s wolf population in the last year.
Increased hunting and trapping resulted in the killing of 257 wolves in Wisconsin in 2013, up from 117 in 2012. This left the state with somewhere between 650 and 700 wolves statewide. That number is down from nearly 850 in 2012.
In its federally-approved management plan, the state established a minimum of 350 wolves, yet the Walker administration appears to be targeting that as a goal. The piece quotes the president of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association saying, “Our group wants the wolf numbers to be at or below 350 as soon as possible.”
The state estimates there are 794,000 deer in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association surely can’t view a mere 600 wolves as a threat to their ability to find a deer. (The total deer population is reportedly 1.4m, 794,000 is the state’s goal. -ed)
In addition to pursuing an unsustainable management strategy, Wisconsin has claimed the unsavory position of being the sole state that allows the use dogs to hunt wolves.
These decisions aren’t being made without outside input. Until recently, Wisconsin’s “Wolf Advisory Committee” included representatives from the conservation and animal welfare community in addition to other stakeholders. That changed last year when the committee was rechartered, leaving mostly pro-hunting and trapping groups to advise the state on how best to manage wolves. As evidenced by the marked decline, the result is an unsustainable set of policies.
Like Idaho and other Northern Rockies states, Wisconsin is demonstrating to the nation what awaits wolves when Endangered Species Act protections are lifted. Secretary Jewell’s planned nationwide delisting would expose nearly all of the nation’s wolves to reckless pro-hunting policies like these. You can email Secretary Jewell and urge that she maintain protections for wolves here.