Wisconsin Wolf Management
After years of court battles, it appears that Wisconsin game managers are getting what they have been asking for. As of January 27, 2012, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan will take over management of the grey wolf. This comes after the US Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the Great Lakes grey wolf from the endangered list back in December of 2011. Wisconsin Mammalian Ecologist and Wolf Program Leader Adrian Wydeven spoke with foremosthunting.com to provide some insights on what is going on in Wisconsin.
Wydeven says delisting allows more flexible management of the state’s wolf population. When wolves were on the endangered species list strict limits on what could be done to solve wolf problems were placed on residents and state agencies. Wydeven says most wolves cause no problems to humans but some are very destructive. “We needed to be able to remove wolves and get government trappers in to trap and euthanize problem wolves, to be able to issue permits and authorizations to landowners to protect their property, and start some programs to get more citizens involved in managing the wolf population. We had no ability to do that when they were endangered.”
According to Wydeven, farmers will have much more freedom to deal with wolves predating on livestock. “They can now get USDA Wildlife Services to come to their land when they have a depredation to trap and remove that wolf, they can be issued permits themselves to shoot the wolf, and if the wolf is attacking livestock on their property they have the authority to shoot a wolf without a permit. It gives us a lot more possibilities for controlling problem animals.”
When wolves began recovering in Wisconsin, the original management goal was for 350-400 wolves in the state. In 2012, the population is estimated at around 800. Wydeven says the focus is on removing problem wolves first before chasing a specific number. “There are parts of the state where wolf populations can fluctuate naturally and other parts where they need to be more intensely controlled…. That we’re above our goal indicates that we should use all the tools available to us to manage our wolf population.”
Speaking of tools, Minnesota already has a plan for a 2012 hunt on the table. Wydeven says as of right now, it is uncertain whether Wisconsin will follow suit. “We don’t have any proposed bill yet to authorize a wolf hunt. In Wisconsin we do have to have legislative authority before the DNR could have a wolf harvest.” It is believed that a few legislators are currently crafting a bill. It could be on the Capitol floor by the end of January. If it is passed, the DNR then builds the season parameters.
“Wolf” is literally and figuratively a four letter word with many residents of Northern Wisconsin. Wydeven believes having the power to effectively manage problem wolves will help change negative attitudes toward the state’s wolf population. “We’re hoping that having a variety of tools available for dealing with problem wolves and reducing the presence of problem wolves on the landscape will improve people’s tolerance and acceptance of wolves.”
This is the third time since 2000 the Great Lakes grey wolf has been delisted. Previously it was relisted due to court battles. At this time Wydeven isn’t aware of any lawsuits being filed and he is hoping this time the Great Lakes grey wolf will stay off the endangered species list.
To listen to the entire conversation with WI DNR Mammalian Ecologist Adrian Wydeven, press play at the top of the page.