The announcement was made on Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The move would return management to the states and tribes, which would reinstate Wisconsin’s wolf hunt that began in 2012.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to propose a rule to “delist” the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Lower 48 states.
Wisconsin’s Record On Wolf Management
Wisconsin became the only state to allow hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to wolves in two of the three wolf hunts in 2013 & 2014. Wisconsin hunters killed 528 wolves in the three seasons a hunt was held in the state before the animal was placed back on the endangered species list.
The Gray Wolf Monitoring Report done through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and can be found on their website estimates 905-944 wolves reside in Wisconsin’s northern & central forests.
Livestock depredations included 29 cattle killed and 1 injured, and 4 sheep killed. The number of farms affected was the same as the previous monitoring year. That number doesn’t include depredations of hunting dogs.
In wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range and containing 80% of the minimum winter wolf count, deer density estimates increased 19% compared to 2016.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to propose a rule to “delist” the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Lower 48 states. USF&WS is required to hold a public comment period on this ruling.
If delisting does occur in Wisconsin, my hope is that with the new WDNR Secretary in place, the required wolf management plan will include greater transparency allowing for public input in how the Gray wolf is managed.
There hasn’t been a wolf hunt since 2014. The Gray wolf is thriving on Wisconsin’s landscape, the wolf population is exhibiting signs of self-regulating, Gray wolves and White-tailed deer are benefiting each other once again, and livestock depredations aren’t a major threat.