Wisconsin’s wolf hunt will go forward with a quota of 156 wolves this winter.
The state’s Natural Resources Board has approved the Wolf Advisory Committee’s recommendation. The board met in Milwaukee but took live video testimony from Rhinelander, where about a dozen people gathered to voice their opinions.
Most spoke in opposition of the quota, saying it was too high and could destabilize an already-shrinking population. Long time wolf tracker Norm Paulton argues the science being used doesn’t take into account the social structure of wolf packs.
“Well what you’re doing – you’re not just killing 150-some wolves. But you’re breaking up the packs. If you kill an alpha, the whole pack disperses and breaks up.”
Citizens also criticized the Wolf-Advisory Committee for having an over-representation of hunting groups, and questioned the DNR’s wolf management goal of 350 wolves.
The DNR says it’s taking a cautious approach in setting the quota this year. It’s planning for a lower rate of harvest in response to a shrinking wolf population. But the latest winter count of 660 is still well above the 350 target number.
Patrick Quaintance of the Wisconsin Association of Sporting Dogs said he opposes the quota because it is too low, and won’t get close enough to the management goal.
“I think people misunderstand – they think the hound community or the dog community wants to eliminate the wolves. And that isn’t so at all. Everybody was satisfied with the 350 wolves on the landscape, until we started getting to a point where they started to cause problems.”
Hunting with hounds is of particular concern to many opposed to the wolf hunt. They say it could result in illegal fighting between wolves and dogs.
A DNR analysis of 27 out of 35 wolf carcasses killed using dogs last year…did not find conclusive evidence that dogs had harmed any of the wolves.
The Natural Resources Board asked the DNR to present a plan for gathering more data on wolves killed while hunting with dogs…where hunters could voluntarily bring a wolf carcass for analysis.
This year's quota may still be adjusted in response to what the Chippewa tribes may declare.