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The February 2021 Wisconsin Wolf Hunt: A Preliminary Assessment

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Wisconsin held a February wolf hunt. It wasn’t a hunt, it was a slaughter. The Wisconsin DNR hid behind the shield of the lawsuit and the agency continues to hide behind Act 169 which mandates a wolf hunting/trapping season, including the use of dogs to hunt wolves. We are not optimistic anything will change as Wisconsin DNR is making plans for a November 2021 wolf hunting/trapping season.

The February hunt took place during breeding season; some killed were pregnant. Some of the surviving pregnant wolves gave birth in a den without the aid of the pack members to bring her food.  It is anticipated that many pups will die.

Some of the packs, without their leader will disband. There is much uncertainty, not just for wolves in Wisconsin but wolves across the country.

On January 4, 2021 wolves lost their federal protections, giving states the authority to “manage” wolves.  States such as South Dakota, declared wolves are not welcome and can be shot on sight with just a cheap hunting license. While the Biden administration has called for review of the ruling implemented by the prior administration and the lawsuits weave their way through the court system, the killing continues.

Two PDFs are included in one document (link at bottom)…

  • The Wisconsin DNR issued a report (pdf)
  • Wisconsin Green Fire issued a preliminary report (pdf)

Their Key Findings:

  • During the February hunt wolves were removed primarily from core habitats on public lands where conflicts with pets, livestock or human safety are rare. Based on currently available information and our understanding of wolf populations and behavior, there is little evidence that the February 2021 wolf hunt will significantly reduce human – wolf conflicts.
  • Based on loss of bred females and alpha males, it is reasonable to estimate that 60-100 of Wisconsin’s wolf packs may lose all pup production due to the February hunt. If this impact is realized it will represent 24-40% of the expected reproduction from 245 known wolf packs outside of Indian reservations in Wisconsin.
  • The lack of consultation with Wisconsin Ojibwe Tribes over the February hunt failed to meet the state’s responsibilities for meaningful consultation to assure tribes maintain their longstanding rights to natural resources within Ceded Territories. The relations between the State and the Wisconsin Ojibwe Tribes have been damaged and will take time repair.
  • Despite current law requiring annual wolf harvests, the WDNR retains authority to establish quotas and, within statutory limits, to regulate the form, timing, and methods of harvest. The WDNR should use its authority more fully to prevent the kind of unwanted outcomes experienced in February from being repeated.  
Document: WGF-Cons-Bulletin-and-Wolf-Season-Report.pdf  PDF icon

Author(s): Adrian Wydeven, Fred Clark, Terry Daulton, Peter David, Tom Hauge, Jodi Habush-Sinykin, Sarah Peterson, Heather Stricker, Tim Van Deelen

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