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DNR seeks comments on wolf management plan, fall hunt quota for Wisconsin
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STATE WILDLIFE | WOLF MANAGEMENT

DNR seeks comments on wolf management plan, fall hunt quota for Wisconsin

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Wolf hunt

Wisconsin wildlife officials are seeking public input on how to manage the state’s gray wolf population over the coming decade.

Wisconsin wildlife officials are seeking public input on how to manage the state’s gray wolf population over the coming decade after hunters exceeded the state quota in the first hunt since federal protections were dropped.

The Department of Natural Resources will accept comments beginning Thursday on an update of the state’s 1999 wolf management plan as well as comments on the fall wolf hunt.

A newly formed Wolf Management Plan Committee is expected to begin meeting this summer to craft recommendations for a new 10-year plan for wolves, which were removed earlier this year from the federal endangered species list.

The committee, whose members have not been named, is to include hunting and trapping groups, wolf advocacy and education organizations and agricultural interests, as well as DNR staff and representatives from other government agencies, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, and the 11 Ojibwe tribes which retain hunting rights in the northern part of the state.

The DNR plans to release a draft plan for public review in February before seeking final approval from the agency’s policy board sometime next year. The DNR says the plan will be guided by science as well as input from the committee and the public.

The agency is simultaneously working to develop quotas for the next statutory hunting season, which opens in November and runs through February.

Comments can be submitted between April 15 and May 15 through the agency’s wolf management plan website.

February hunt

The DNR released new data Monday on the court-ordered February season in which hunters and trappers killed 218 wolves in less than 63 hours, nearly double the 119 wolves set aside for non-native hunters.

Four of those wolves were taken illegally, though only one citation was issued for hunting without a license, according to the report.

According to the report, 53% of the wolves killed were male, and 17% were breeding-age females, though there was no data on how many of those were carrying pups.

Overall, just under 40% of the wolves killed were adults, compared to just 20-30% in previous hunts.

Randy Johnson, large carnivore specialist with the DNR, said using dogs to track wolves allowed hunters to be more selective than in prior hunts, when regulations limited the use of hunting dogs.

Final figures

More than 27,000 people applied for licenses, though only 1,548 of the 2,380 who were selected ended up purchasing tags.

The report said wardens conducted 101 investigations during the hunt and issued 14 citations and 31 verbal warnings.

The hunt prompted criticism from animal rights activists, conservation groups and Native American tribes, though DNR officials said they believe the population of about 1,200 wolves can sustain the losses.

Wisconsin law requires a wolf hunt be held from November through February when federal protections are not in place. The federal government removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in January.

The DNR initially planned to wait until November, saying it could not establish science-based quotas and comply with Native American treaty requirements, but a Jefferson County judge ordered a hunt to be held this winter after a Kansas-based hunting group sued.

A state court of appeals dismissed the DNR’s request to block the order.


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