On Saturday, February 18, 2023, sixty Northwoods residents attended a listening session hosted by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation regarding the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) updated Wolf Management plan. These residents claim that the DNR should hold hearings in wolf country and listen to the concerns of the citizens living among wolves. I agree with that. The DNR should have a public listening session in the Northwoods. I’m afraid I have to disagree with the sixty or so residents attending Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s views about wolf management. I don’t believe they represent or speak for most of the residents living in wolf country. They are in the minority regarding wolves in the state by a two-to-one ratio agreeing with the statement that “it is important to maintain a wolf population in Wisconsin.” (Source)
The sixty residents describe their views or opinions regarding wolves in exaggerated claims with little evidence to back them up. I believe this is politically driven. Because what they want is a wolf hunt. They believe the wolf population must be capped at 350, which goes against most Wisconsinites’ public opinion.
Most Wisconsinites would like about the same number of wolves or more in the state; the vast majority do not want them eliminated. One-third (33%) would like about the same number, 27% would like more wolves, and 6% would like more wolves in the state. Fifteen percent of Wisconsinites would like fewer (9%)or many fewer (6%) wolves, and 4% would like zero wolves in the state. Sixteen percent were unsure how many wolves they would like to have in the state. Public Opinions Regarding Wolves and Wolf Management in Wisconsin Report
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation favored the February 2021 wolf hunts that sparked worldwide controversy and led to federal protections being restored to wolves in Wisconsin.
On Feb. 10, a federal judge for the Northern District of California restored protections to wolves across most of the United States, including Wisconsin. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had erred in delisting wolves from the federal law meant to protect vulnerable species. The federal judge’s ruling came about a year after a state court ordered the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to immediately hold a wolf hunt, citing a state statute mandating an annual hunt between November and February when the species is not federally protected. Hunters far exceeded quotas set by the agency during the hastily planned hunt, sparking an outcry from tribal treaty rights advocates.
People & Wolves film project tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people learn to coexist as these native predators are again fulfilling their ecological role after returning to the state about 45 years ago.
The disastrous February wolf hunt was the catalyst for change. The Wisconsin DNR convened a Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan Committee in the summer/fall of 2021 to provide input toward developing an updated wolf management plan. The release sparked controversy among those opposed to removing a population cap on wolves.
The plan proposes several changes to align the DNR’s wolf management strategy with the current state of the wolf population, the available science, and the perspectives of a diverse public, such as:
Moving away from a single numeric population goal and instead using an adaptive management process focused on balancing the three main objectives (above).
The Department of Natural Resources noted in the plan that they want to increase public understanding of wolves within the state. The proposed plan was developed with input from Wisconsin’s tribal nations, which oppose wolf hunting and trapping, along with scientific literature reviews and the results of a new public opinion survey that found most Wisconsinites enjoy having wolves around and want to see about the same number or more wolves going forward.
Compare the listening session hosted by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation to the one Hosted by the Department of Natural resources, and most commenters favored the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan Draft.
Watch the DNR Public Listening Session; click here.
The public is invited to comment.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages the public to provide input on the proposed Wolf Management Plan before the public review and comment period ends on Feb. 28.
The proposed plan was developed considering many factors, including public input, consultations with Wisconsin’s tribal nations, scientific literature reviews, a study on current public attitudes towards wolves and potential outcomes of various management decisions.
The draft plan aims to balance the tradeoffs between three main objectives effectively:
- Ensuring a healthy and sustainable wolf population to fulfill its ecological role.
- Addressing and reducing wolf-related conflicts.
- Providing multiple benefits associated with the wolf population, including hunting, trapping, and sightseeing.
In addition, the draft plan details proposals to increase public understanding of wolves, identify crucial scientific research to be conducted and outline steps to ensure collaboration on science-based wolf management in Wisconsin.
More details about the plan’s objectives and metrics for evaluation are described in the implementation section of the management plan. The descriptions and metrics provided give a clearer understanding of the intent behind each objective, how the DNR plans to measure it, and what conditions constitute satisfactory progress toward the objective.
What’s Staying The Same?
The draft plan provides that DNR staff will continue to monitor wolves each year and address wolf-related conflict (consistent with current law). The DNR will continue supporting and conducting scientific research and science-based decision-making. Collaboration with other agencies, tribal nations, stakeholder groups and the public on items of mutual importance remains a department priority.
The plan proposes several changes to align the DNR’s wolf management strategy with the current state of the wolf population, the available science and the perspectives of a diverse public, such as:
- Moving away from a single numeric population goal and instead using an adaptive management process focused on balancing the three main objectives (above).
- Reducing harvest registration times and issuing zone-specific wolf harvest permits to improve the department’s ability to effectively meet harvest quotas.
- Adding mechanisms to address localized concerns, including wolf harvest concerns near tribal reservation boundaries and focused wolf harvest in areas with a history of wolf-livestock conflict.
- Revising wolf management zone boundaries to better reflect current wolf distribution and habitat.
The public is encouraged to review the updated plan in detail to learn more.
The DNR will continue to accept comments through the Online Comment Tool, email (DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wisconsin.gov) or through the mail until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2023.