WDNR Public Attitudes Towards Wolves Survey

The good, bad and the ugly.

The results are in, that Wisconsin’s citizens want wild wolves on the landscape. I was in attendance at the Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC) where the wolf survey was explained and discussed. First of all, I was pleased to be a part of this social survey on wolves as part of focus groups that met in December of 2013.
Finally we have proof positive that the citizens of Wisconsin Support wild wolves. There were clusters of groups used to determine the results and here is an example; the southern part of the state was labeled as non wolf range and most of the northern counties were labeled wolf range. The results showed citizens in both clusters support wild wolves in Wisconsin. The results were positive, with 83% of non wolf range and 69% of wolf range citizens. Read the full WDNR public attitudes towards wolves and wolf management survey click HERE

The good news 

Douglas county has the highest density of wolves and people with 56% of the citizens wanting to live by wolves. Interestingly enough, Douglas County has the oldest populations of wolves and the most tolerant showing that Wisconsin can coexist with wolves.

The majority of citizens in non and wolf range want to maintain the wolf population numbers “as is” and do not want to reduce the current population any further. There was again a great deal of discussion with several WAC members stating that the 350 numbers were devised as a threshold for wolf recovery and not a maximum number for wolf population.

Adrian Wydeven, WAC member, reminded everyone that one of the wolf management objectives should be to maintain a healthy population of wolves. Adrian should know about maintaining healthy wolf populations because he was head Wolf biologist from 1990- 2012 under the WDNR Wolf Recovery Program. Adrian announced last week that he will be officially retiring from the WDNR before the end of this year. The contributions Adrian made to wolf recovery and data on wild wolves are too numerous to mention, but the development of the WDNR volunteer Winter Wolf tracker problem is just one of those contributions. There is hope for wild wolves in Wisconsin thanks to the positive survey results. Now for the not so good news.

The bad news 

Several pro wolf hunt members of the WAC don’t agree with the survey results. They claim the survey was confusing and slanted towards wolves without concerns for those who have wolves in their back yards. Several of the pro hunt members expressing concerns that citizens in Madison do not have the right to weigh in on this committee or the wolf management plan. Because they feel people living in Madison don’t have wolves in their back yard and don’t have to live with wolves. Further expressing that the survey results, by including non wolf range citizens must not be used to determine wolf management.

The ugly truth 

Now this is where it gets ugly. All of Wisconsin has the right to weigh in on its natural resources, (right?) but one pro wolf hunt committee member stated that they don’t have a say in where a road is put in Milwaukee so, why should Milwaukee tell them what they should do about wild wolves in their back yard. Since when is road construction part of Wisconsin’s natural resources?

Again, it is apparent that the WAC is slanted in favor of pro wolf fringe hunters who claim that people living in wolf range want zero or less than 350 wolves, But results of this wolf survey dispute that claim. It’s obvious extremist fringe hunters have no concern for the health of wild wolves or ecological benefits Wisconsin receives from it’s wild wolf populations. Wisconsinites in non and wolf range do want wild wolves on the landscape and let’s hope the politicians listen for a change.

What’s next for Wisconsin’s wild wolf population? 

In the next two months the WAC will be writing WI’s wolf management plan using the wolf survey results. Citizens will get a chance to weigh in on these wolf management plans at the NRB meetings sometime in October and November of this year.


Featured image John E Marriott

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