A Wisconsin state Senator, a former board member of the WI Bear Hunter’s Association, has proposed a bill to establish a new wolf population goal.

Credit Voyageurs Wolf Project

This act by two GOP legislators upholds their argument that a 1999 Wolf Management Plan capped the population at 350 individuals.  These opposing forces draw lines in the sand where wolves are concerned and continue the decades-old battle regarding the state’s wolves. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Management Plan Draft is drawing fire from these two legislators because it left out a specific population goal. WMPC’s public comment period closed on February 28th. Since then,  the two Republican legislators have circulated a bill requiring Wisconsin wildlife officials to establish a new population goal for wolves in the state in their next management plan.  SOURCE

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association, and agricultural/ranching organizations want the population capped at 350 wolves, in contrast to how wildlife officials handle population goals.

The WMPC proposes (proposed) 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.

Are other species managed this way? The following is what Patrick Durkin Outdoors, wrote in his column regarding specific population goals on wolves.

But if we insist on managing wolves to faulty predictions, we must also rewrite Wisconsin’s 2019-2029 black-bear management plan. Until this plan’s update four years ago, the statewide bear population goal was 11,300. But after some smart biologists crafted better estimating methods, the July 2022 statewide bear population exceeded 24,000.

At best, this debate has become a battle of politics rather than a wildlife management one. It is a Wisconsin story mired in political intrigue as People & Wolves learn to coexist.

Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin in the 1970s after being killed off in the state in the 1950s and grew to a population of over 1000 wolves by 2020. Unfortunately, this conservation success story has become very controversial in the last decade. Federal and state endangered species acts have helped recover wolves in the state. Still, four attempts by the federal government to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have resulted in court challenges returning wolves to the endangered list.  After federal delisting in 2012, the Wisconsin legislature mandated that wolf hunts would be required whenever gray wolves were off the ESA list.  (People & Wolves film synopsis)

The court battle continued when wolves were delisted again in January 2021; hunters, farmers, and conservationists have been locked in a tug-of-war over how to handle wolves in Wisconsin for years. Farmers say wolves destroy their livestock, and hunters seek another species to stalk. Conservationists argue the animal is too beautiful to kill and that the population is still too fragile to support hunting.

There is much to unpack with the following press statement from 2021; Conservationists argue the animal is too beautiful to kill and that the population is still too fragile to support hunting. That statement is resurfacing again but replacing conservationists with animal advocates. Is the press mistakenly believing there is an equivalence between wolf advocacy and wolf education?  Did the DNR carefully select the WMPC committee organizations and groups? The answer is they picked an inclusive and diverse representation.

“The WMPC was an inclusive and diverse committee comprised of individuals representing hunting/trapping organizations, wolf advocacy/education organizations, and agricultural/ranching organizations. In addition to these stakeholder seats, there was representation by other government agencies, tribes, and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.” Read the Wolf Management Plan Committee’s Final Report here.

Yet, State Rep. Chanz Green of Grandview, and Sen. Rob Stafsholt, of New Richmond are circulating a bill for co-sponsorship requiring the DNR to include a statewide population goal in its new plan.

I want the DNR to use science to come up with what the current population is and … we can have the discussion, argue about what that goal should be,” he said. “It’s not for the Legislature to decide what that number should be. This bill simply says we have to have a population goal to know which direction we should be managing the population.  A statement made by Sen. Rob Stafsholt. 

Is Wisconsin state Sen. Rob Stafsholt concerned that wolves threaten farmers’ livestock? Or does he have a hidden agenda? In 1999, before he was Sen. Rob Safsholt, he was interviewed by a Wisconsin Public Television show about Wisconsin wolves. And get this; he was a bear hunter that used dogs to track and trail bears.  He was a board member of the Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association at the time of the interview.  He hunted bears with hounds, and he lost dogs to wolves. Watch the interview.

Wolves are territorial, especially when hunters run dogs on bears during pup yearning times.  It is essential to mention that bear hunters are reimbursed $2,500.00 when hunter’s dogs are killed while pursuing a bear.  And is Sen. Rob Stafsholt representing his constituents or his interests as a hunter running dogs on bears?

I will leave it here for you to decide. Before you decide, check out the new DNR wolf Management Plan Draft HERE.

Then, check out: The DNR conducted a scientific survey on Wisconsinites’ attitudes toward wolves and wolf management in 2014. You can read the full report on that 2014 survey here.

Senator Rob Stafsholf Office HERE

People & Wolves, a Wisconsin Story Mired in Political Intrigue, is in production and working on gathering interviews for the whole story. Watch the trailer.


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