In February 2021 WDNR was forced by a conservative advocacy group, Hunter Nation Inc, lawsuit to hold a wolf hunt. Needless to say it was disaster for gray wolves in the midst of mating season. I’ve been keeping a close eye on WDNR wolf depredations after the hunt. I was reading through the WDNR Wolf Depredations Report 2021 and wanted clarification on two of the counties, Bayfield & Marquette. Specifically, I wanted to find out if these depredations were due to losing pack members in the February 2021 wolf hunt. In Bayfield county there were 2 confirmed wolf depredations of beef calves on two separate dates post hunt (2-22-21) and (3-08-21). Then in Marquette county one calf on 3-23-21. I contacted Randy Johnson The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Large Carnavore Specialist to ask him about depredations in these two counties and was it tied to packs losing members in the wolf hunt.
He said, “In both cases, I see no reason to believe these conflicts were triggered by the harvest season.”
The following is Johnson’s email response regarding confirmed wolf depredations in the two counties.
There are no (Wildlife Services) WS efforts underway in Marquette County. There were 7 harvested in the south-west part of the county in Feb., including a collared adult female, but the depredation is in the north-west part of the county and well beyond the range of the collared female. The livestock producer is being issued a wolf removal permit which allows the individual to take a number of wolves (I’m not sure the #, often it’s 2 wolves) but this is a much less effective route than WS targeted removal efforts.
There are recent (Wildlife Services) WS removal efforts underway in northern Bayfield County. These are in response to 6 verified conflicts on 3 farms, some of which occurred well prior to the Feb season. WS attempted similar removal in January but were unsuccessful. There were 10 wolves harvested in Bayfield, 9 of which were in the southern part of the county (away from the conflict) and one in the north.
In both counties the depredations occurred after the February 2021 wolf hunt. Marquette county depredations were not in the area were hunters took a collared female wolf. Depredations happened in the north-west part of Marquette county from a different wolf pack. Along with the two depredations Bayfield county that have been occurring prior to the February wolf hunt.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shut down Wisconsin’s February 2021 wolf hunt after only three days. Licensed hunters had killed 216 wolves, 82 percent more than the 119 quota, in three days. The DNR rules allowed hunters to employ bait in trapping, to hunt at night, and to use dogs to pursue the wolves. Trappers could utilize cable restraints and foot-hold traps. Since the timing of the hunt was during the wolves’ breeding season, and with hunters wiping out 20 percent of the population, wolves may end up on the endangered list again.