WDNR Public Attitudes Towards Wolves Survey

The good, bad and the ugly.

The results are, that Wisconsin’s citizens want wild wolves on the landscape. I attended the Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC), where the wolf survey was explained and discussed. First, I was pleased to participate in this social survey on wolves as part of the focus groups that met in December 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 nonwolf 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 nonwolf range and 69% of wolf range citizens. To 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.

Most non and wolf-range citizens want to maintain the wolf population numbers “as is” and do not want to reduce the current population further. Again, a great deal of discussion with several WAC members stated that the 350 numbers were devised as a threshold for wolf recovery and not a maximum number for the wolf population.

Adrian Wydeven, the 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 would officially retire from the WDNR before the end of this year. Adrian’s contributions to wolf recovery and data on wild wolves are too numerous to mention. Still, developing the WDNR volunteer Winter Wolf tracker problem is one of those contributions. The positive survey results show hope for wild wolves in Wisconsin. Now for the not-so-good news.

The bad news

Several pro-wolf hunt members of the WAC disagree with the survey results. They claim the survey was confusing and slanted towards wolves without concerns for those who have wolves in their backyards. Several pro-hunt members expressed 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 backyards and don’t have to live with wolves. Further expressing that the survey results, 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 apparent extremist fringe hunters have no concern for the health of wild wolves or the ecological benefits Wisconsin receives from its wild wolf populations. Wisconsinites in non and wolf ranges 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?

The WAC will write WI’s wolf management plan in the next two months using the wolf survey results. Citizens will get 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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