Category Archives: About Wild Gray Wolves

People & Wolves Film Project Will Interview Dr. Jane Goodall

People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story

Wolves Mired in Political Intrigue

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people are learning to coexist as these native predators are finally back on the landscape after nearly 60 years.

We have been in contact with Dr. Jane Goodall about what’s been happening to Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf and she has graciously agreed to be our first interview!

Dr. Jane Goodall  is a world famous primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots. Her work began in Tanzania where she studied the social and familial behaviors of chimpanzees. She is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Her work has been critical to conservation and animal welfare efforts.

I first made contact with  Dr. Goodall back in 1999.  I let her know all about Wisconsin’s wolf recovery program to which she responded with three handwritten postcards from Dar es Salaam , Tanzania Africa.   I decided  to ask her if she would be willing to appear in our film project, and I sent her an email.  I received a response from her the very next day agreeing  to be interviewed.  How fortunate it is to have Dr. Jane Goodall speaking up for Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf!  The (Zoom)  interview is set for the second week in June.

More Information about  http://People & Wolves: The Wisconsin Story is available on this website. The documentary will examine the various people involved between several opposing forces for over a decade culminating with court battles. People & Wolves will present the viewer with the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy surrounding them on both sides. Since Gray wolves recolonized parts of Wisconsin, the viewer will learn; how it affects people living in  the wolf’s territory as a part of the broader story that must be told. The film will interview state agency personnel, biologists, livestock owners, farmers, tribes and hunters to get a complete picture presenting their stories.

Featuring:

Dr. Jane Goodall,

Adrian Wydeven

Marvin DeFoe

Peter David

 

Producer & Director:

Rachel Tilseth

Producer:

Manish Bhatt

Cinematographer:

Benjamin Coffey

Film Project: “People & Wolves” The Wisconsin Story (WT)

Wolves Mired in Political Intrigue 

Gray Wolf Credit https://www.voyageurswolfproject.org/

The film tells the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves, the controversies surrounding them, and how people are learning to coexist as these native predators are finally back on the landscape after nearly 60 years.

Featuring: Dr. Jane Goodall, Adrian Wydeven and Marvin DeFoe

Rachel Tilseth: Producer & Director and Manish Bhatt: Producer

The film will tell the story of Wisconsin’s gray wolves and the controversy that surrounds them. This documentary will examine the various people involved, between several opposing forces for over a decade culminating with court battles.  

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, but four attempts by the federal government to delisting 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. 

The most recent delisting battle started in January 2021, leading to a court-ordered three-day controversial wolf hunt during the breeding season in February, and it went over the allotted quota; angering many Wisconsinites. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) began work on a new state Wolf Management Plan that was last completed in 1999. The DNR formed a committee of stakeholders, including the tribes.

Ojibwe bands in Red Cliff and Bad River have their own, Ma’iingan (Wolf) Relationship Plans.  The state must work with the tribes on wolf management, including any wolf hunting seasons. Political battles began over how to manage the next hunt in November 2021. The struggle between the DNR, its Natural Resources Board, and pro-wolf advocates ended with several lawsuits and one that yielded an injunction to stop the November 2021 wolf hunt. The Six Ojibwe tribes also sued and claimed the wolf hunt violated their treaty rights. A year after the controversial wolf hunt, a California judge ordered gray wolves in much of the lower 48 states back on the ESA on February 18, 2022. Though gray wolves have numerically recovered in Wisconsin, the future of wolf management remains in limbo in the state.

Meet the People

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack. ~The Jungle Book

Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on the ecology and food habitat of elk in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program for Wisconsin from 1990 through 2013, while also working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues to be actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.

Marvin DeFoe a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is an educator, teacher, birch bark canoe builder, and Red Cliff elder. He grew up in the Red Cliff community and is part of the sturgeon clan. Named Shingway Banase in Anishinaabe, he is  he is passionate about maintenance and revitalization of the Ojibwe language. Marvin is past Vice Chair on the tribal council and has been the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for four years.

Dr. Jane Goodall  is a world famous primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots and Shoots. Her work began in Tanzania where she studied the social and familial behaviors of chimpanzees. She is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Her work has been critical to conservation and animal welfare efforts.

There are more people to come…

Meet the Filmmakers

Rachel Tilseth Producer & Director

Rachel Tilseth is an art educator, freelance writer, producer/director, environmentalist, and DNR volunteer Winter wolf tracker.  She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education, 1992, from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors. Rachel’s first teaching job was on Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota. Rachel believes an art education helps students to become better consumers. Rachel is a fine artist emphasizing watercolor and oil painting. Rachel brings her knowledge of design principles to her work as a documentary film director.

Since high school, Rachel has been an environmentalist and participated in the first Earth Day in 1971. In the 1990s, she participated in the sulfate mines protests alongside activists John Trudell and Walter Bresette at the Protect The Earth Festival near Hayward, Wisconsin.

In 1991 on a howl survey in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Rachel met Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program Head Wolf Biologist, Adrian Wydeven. Seven years later became involved in Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. She became a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf/Carnivore Tracker in the year 2000 and, as a result, learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. Rachel brings her knowledge of Wisconsin’s wolf & the politics surrounding them to the film.

Manish Bhatt Producer

Manish Bhatt is a conservationist, writer, lawyer and education leader. He holds a Bachelors of Arts magna cum laude from The George Washington University, a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Having grown up in a rural community in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Manish has a lifelong commitment to preserving wild spaces and wildlife. As an officer and Judge Advocate in the United States Coast Guard, Manish deployed in support of cleanup efforts following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and led section 7 consultations with federal agency partners under the Endangered Species Act.  He also worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and State Historic Preservation Officers to ensure compliance with marine environmental laws and regulations. Manish has served as a teacher and Head of School and believes in experiential and outdoor education. As a school leader, he worked closely with fundraising partners and grant providers to ensure student success and curricular development.

Manish is a feature and investigative writer for the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films. To each article he brings deep curiosity and commitment to objectivity. As a lifelong learner, Manish seeks data and trend analysis as a part of his reporting, in addition to interviewing experts in the field of wolf biology.  Manish has co hosted, alongside Rachel Tilselth, WORT Radio’s Access Hour to share wolf science and information with the listening audience.

“Gray wolves a native species, existing on the landscape have an innate right to exist, and a right to occur within areas of suitable habitat on the landscape. It’s important that we point out the ecological justification for their benefits, but at the same time, they have an innate right to exist. We need to appreciate that and allow them to persist and live on the landscape.” —Adrian Wydeven

Benjamin Coffey – Bio

Benjamin Coffey will be carrying the role of a Cinematographer in the film, People and Wolves. He is owner of two Film & Media Production companies based in Charlotte, North Carolina. These agencies supply high-end, custom content for clients internationally. Coffey has five years of professional experience in visual storytelling. After receiving his Associates at Liberty University, Coffey regularly attends certified training for RED and ARRI Camera Systems in LA & Chicago. He has collaborated on over 250 Productions in Europe, Asia, and North America. Benjamin Coffey has represented a variety of corporate clients such as Google, Disney, Dreamville, GK Hair, Lingodeer, and a variety of other top-rated Agencies and Corporations.

Previous Narrative Film projects have been decorated and screened in International Festivals such as LA Film Awards 2020, New York Film Awards 2020, Top Shorts 2020, Flickfair 2021, Festigious Los Angeles 2020, and more. He has been complimented on his use of applying technical knowledge to the emotional connections of a scene. As a cinematographer, Coffey seeks safe, efficient, and reliable methods of storytelling to bring a director’s vision to life.www.benjamincoffey.com

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9257706/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

www.linkedin.com/in/benjamincoffey2

Our Vision

The most important goal of our documentary films is scientific facts about wolves and the ecosystems they impact. Through our films, the viewer can gain biological knowledge. As a result, this increases their overall awareness of gray wolves.

Our films give people an opportunity to see wild wolves where they live. We show the viewer the beautiful places where wolves are abundant. Therefore, our films bring these experiences right to the viewer.

Our films are meaningful stories where people can learn something. Our films achieve this through high-end research, storytelling and professional filming. Through this, it provides viewers with something of great value to watch.

Our films will make the viewer stop and think about how the human race is impacting wildlife, specifically gray wolves. After watching our films the viewer will think longer & deeper about the meaning of the film’s message.

We envision a world where coexistence between people & wolves is the “norm”.

 

EDIT

 

 

 

 

WORT Radio’ Access Hour Presented: A Discussion on the Future of Wisconsin’s wild Wolf (Listen here)

If you missed the live show here it is. Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin and Manish Bhatt were co-hosts for anther informative discussion regarding Wisconsin’s wild wolf. We will be discussing the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s (WCC) online voting taking place at the spring hearings, the Wisconsin DNR’s Wolf Management Plan, and the Maiingan Relationship Plan. Join the informative discussion with guests Adrian Wydeven; who led the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Recovery Program from 1990 through 2013, Peter David; a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Marvin Defoe; a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa,

An Informative Discussion About The Future Of Wisconsin’s Gray W…

Citizens will be able to provide input on Wisconsin’s natural resource issues through the 2022 Spring Hearings which will again be online beginning April 11, 2022 (starting at 7:00 pm) and remain open through 7:00 pm on April 14, 2022. Information on the questions being asked, how to participate, and how citizens can introduce a resolution will be posted here as it becomes available. Click Here for more information.

Photo credit artist Jane Ryder http://www.janeryder.com “Effigy Mounds” 19×20 Gouache on paper, 2014

The DNR assembled the Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC) , a diverse group of stakeholders and Tribal representatives to meet four times between July and October 2021. The DNR tasked this group with providing input for the latest installment of the Wolf Management Plan. Furthermore, how will treaty rights be honored and we will explore the tribe’s Maiingan (Wolf) Relationship Plan.

SPECIAL GUESTS 

Adrian grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). Photograph courtesy of Adrian Wydeven.

Special Guest Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on the ecology and food habitat of elk in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program for Wisconsin from 1990 through 2013, while also working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues to be actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.

Peter David assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights.

Special guest Peter David is a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights. He received his education (bachelors and masters in Wildlife Ecology) from UW-Madison, and from the tribal elders and members for whom he has worked for the last 35 years. At the Commission, he has had the opportunity to steward resources as varied as wild rice and wolves.

Special guest Marvin DeFoe a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is an educator, teacher, birch bark canoe builder, and Red Cliff elder. He grew up in the Red Cliff community and is part of the sturgeon clan. Named Shingway Banase in Anishinaabe, he is passionate about maintenance and revitalization of the Ojibwe language. Marvin is past Vice Chair on the tribal council and has been the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for four years.

Marvin DeFoe

HOSTS

Manish N. Bhatt is a writer for the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. In addition, he is an educator, attorney, military veteran and startup advisor. Having grown up in a rural community in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Manish enjoys hiking, fishing, sailing, skiing and observing nature with his family. Manish has also lived in Texas and Wyoming. He holds a B.A. magna cum laude from the George Washington University, a J.D. magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. Manish is a committed environmentalist and is dedicated to following the science. 

Producer & Host Rachel Tilseth is a freelance writer, fine artist, educator, and environmentalist. Tilseth has been a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker since the year 2000. Tilseth worked with the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program as a volunteer since 1998, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. Tilseth worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel is founder and owner of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films. Tilseth received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

WORT Radio’ Access Hour Presents: An Informative Discussion About the Future of Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Recovery

April 4, 2022, at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour .

I’m Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin inviting you to join myself and Manish Bhatt for anther informative discussion regarding Wisconsin’s wild wolf. We will be discussing the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s (WCC) online voting taking place at the spring hearings, the Wisconsin DNR’s Wolf Management Plan, and the Maiingan Relationship Plan. Join the informative discussion with guests Adrian Wydeven; who led the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Recovery Program from 1990 through 2013, Peter David; a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Marvin Defoe; a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, on Monday April 4, 2022, at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour .

Citizens will be able to provide input on Wisconsin’s natural resource issues through the 2022 Spring Hearings which will again be online beginning April 11, 2022 (starting at 7:00 pm) and remain open through 7:00 pm on April 14, 2022. Information on the questions being asked, how to participate, and how citizens can introduce a resolution will be posted here as it becomes available. Click Here for more information.

The DNR assembled the Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC) , a diverse group of stakeholders and Tribal representatives to meet four times between July and October 2021. The DNR tasked this group with providing input for the latest installment of the Wolf Management Plan. Furthermore, how will treaty rights be honored and we will explore the tribe’s Maiingan (Wolf) Relationship Plan.

Photograph credit NPS

Join the discussion about the latest news on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources latest update to the wolf management plan, with special guest Adrian Wydeven and Peter David, on Monday April 4, 2022, at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour .

SPECIAL GUESTS 

Adrian grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). Photograph courtesy of Adrian Wydeven.

Special Guest Adrian Wydeven grew up in northeast Wisconsin, and has a BS in biology and wildlife management from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1976), and an MS in wildlife ecology from Iowa State University (1979). His master’s research was on the ecology and food habitat of elk in the Wind Cave National Park, SD. He worked as a wildlife manager in Missouri and Wisconsin from 1980-1990. Adrian headed up the state gray wolf recovery and conservation program for Wisconsin from 1990 through 2013, while also working with other rare mammals and wildlife. He retired from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2015 after nearly 33 years. Adrian continues to be actively involved in wolf surveys and conservation through the Timber Wolf Alliance and Wisconsin Green Fire.

Peter David assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights.

Special guest Peter David is a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he assists GLIFWC’s member tribes in the implementation of their off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights. He received his education (bachelors and masters in Wildlife Ecology) from UW-Madison, and from the tribal elders and members for whom he has worked for the last 35 years. At the Commission, he has had the opportunity to steward resources as varied as wild rice and wolves.

Special guest Marvin DeFoe a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is an educator, teacher, birch bark canoe builder, and Red Cliff elder. He grew up in the Red Cliff community and is part of the sturgeon clan. Named Shingway Banase in Anishinaabe, he is passionate about maintenance and revitalization of the Ojibwe language. Marvin is past Vice Chair on the tribal council and has been the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for four years.

Marvin DeFoe is a contributing author of the Ma’iingan Relationship Plan and member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

HOSTS

Manish N. Bhatt is a writer for the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. In addition, he is an educator, attorney, military veteran and startup advisor. Having grown up in a rural community in the Catskill Mountains of New York, Manish enjoys hiking, fishing, sailing, skiing and observing nature with his family. Manish has also lived in Texas and Wyoming. He holds a B.A. magna cum laude from the George Washington University, a J.D. magna cum laude from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. Manish is a committed environmentalist and is dedicated to following the science.

Producer & Host Rachel Tilseth is a freelance writer, fine artist, educator, and environmentalist. Tilseth has been a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker since the year 2000. Tilseth worked with the Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program as a volunteer since 1998, and as a result learned about the lives of wild gray wolves. Tilseth worked to draw attention to the plight of Gray wolves during the three years Wisconsin held wolf hunts. Rachel is founder and owner of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. Tilseth received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education in 1992 from UW-Stout, graduating with cum laude honors.

Continue reading WORT Radio’ Access Hour Presents: An Informative Discussion About the Future of Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Recovery

US Senators seek to remove federal protection for the gray wolf


Credit: John E. Marriott

Senators from Wisconsin and Wyoming have introduced bipartisan legislation which would return gray wolf management to the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.  It also reaffirms the current delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming.  This bill follows a recent decision from a federal court in California which returned the gray wolf to federal protection in much of the lower-48 states. 

Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin DNR biologist, is not surprised by the recent action.  “When wolves were relisted last month, I [believed] legislative delisting would likely be attempted in the Great Lakes region as it had occurred in the Northern Rockies,” Wydeven said. Unlike federal agencies, Congress can limit the authority of courts to review its delisting action – as is the case with the current bill.  

This legislative effort comes as the Wisconsin DNR is currently working to finalize a new Wolf Management Plan.  The last state wolf management plan was approved in 1999, with some slight modifications added in 2007. Wisconsin abandoned work to rewrite the plan in 2015. This bill also follows the February 2021 wolf hunt during which 218 wolves were killed, 83% more than the state quota allowed.  Per Wisconsin law, anytime the gray wolf is not under federal or state protection, the state is mandated to hold a wolf hunt.

Legislative delisting is not new.  In 2011, Congress required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the decision to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies, except for Wyoming.  In 2012, the agency  did delist wolves in Wyoming; however, this rule was vacated by a federal district court in 2014 and later reinstated by a federal appeals court in 2017.  Prior to the reinstatement, Wyoming’s congressional delegation had sought to legislatively require delisting of wolves in the state.  The newly introduced legislation, co-sponsored by both Wyoming Senators, does not allow for  judicial review of the decision to delist the animal in Wyoming.  In 2018, then-Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) sponsored the Manage Our Wolves Act which sought to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the lower-48 states.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives but was not taken up in the Senate.

How the recent bill’s introduction may be leveraged for political purposes remains an open question. While bipartisan, it comes just months ahead of the 2022 midterm election in which Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the only co-sponsor on the ballot. His challenger will be determined in the August 2022 primary.

Those interested in learning more or contacting sponsoring Senators can do so via the following links: Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Cynthia Lummis ( R-WY).

After Years of False Starts, WDNR Finally Moves on Developing an Updated Wolf Management Plan

Photo taken in Northern Wisconsin at the turn of the 20th Century

Admittedly, I am new to Wisconsin’s wolf management plan process so to write this I set out to do in-depth research and reporting.  After over twenty-four hours of watching the Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC) meetings, more than ten hours of reading the past plan, its update and articles, and several more hours discussing the future of wolves in Wisconsin, I certainly expected to have a clear sense of what will happen next. The truth is, I learned a lot and realized how little I could predict.  

The History

As has been reported in this publication (and elsewhere), wolves were eliminated from Wisconsin and much of the lower-48 by the mid-20th century. Gray wolf populations continued in Minnesota and on Isle Royale (Michigan). These holdouts to extirpation began extending their territory and reemerged in Wisconsin by the mid-1970s. In 1989, the state began work on a state recovery plan with the the goal of upgrading the status of the wolf from endangered to threatened.  By 1999, the year of the first statewide Wolf Management Plan, Wisconsin had a population of more than 190 wolves and the state set out to manage the wolf to eventually delist the species from state and federal protection all together. Wisconsin updated the 1999 plan in 2007. The state attempted to draft a new plan between 2013 and 2015, but did not finish the job. The 1999 plan listed fourteen specific areas of wolf management strategies: 1. Wolf management zones, 2. Population monitoring and management, 3. Wolf health monitoring, 4. Habitat management, 5. Wolf depredation management, 6. Wolf education programs, 7. Law enforcement, 8. Inter-Agency cooperation and coordination, 9. Program guidance and oversight, 10. Volunteer programs, 11. Wolf research needs, 12. Wolf-Dog hybrids and captive wolves, 13. Wolf specimen management, and 14. Ecotourism. 

Prior to the 2013-2015 attempt to revisit the Wolf Management Plan, the state often engaged with a state scientific committee. However, the 2021-2022 plan is the first significant work toward a new plan since efforts were abandoned in 2015. When I learned this, I knew an update to the 1999 Wolf Management Plan would be extremely difficult, and all of this is occurring in the shadow of the February 2021 wolf hunt and the return of the wolf to federal protection in February 2022

Before I sat down to watch the four meetings of the WPMC, I asked myself, what has changed between 1999 and 2022? The answer was not hard to find – the wolf population. What was a number under 200 in 1999 is now a population of more than 1,000 animals in the state.  Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest also experienced increases in population sizes.  In my opinion, the gray wolf recovery is a conservation success story but now the question facing Wisconsin is how to successfully coexist with a more stable population of apex predators?

The WMPC Process

To help answer this question, the DNR assembled the WMPC, a diverse group of stakeholders and Tribal representatives to meet four times between July and October 2021. The DNR tasked this group with providing input for the latest installment of the Wolf Management Plan. 

The meetings of the WMPC were facilitated by a third party, nongovernmental, professional with the help of the DNR’s large carnivore specialist, Randy Johnson. I took the hiring of an outside facilitator to be both prudent, given the diverse perspectives of the WMPC members, and also a signal of the value of public input. Throughout the course of four meetings (including work prior to each meeting directed by the faciltator) the members of the WMPC assembled 138 individual pieces of input for the DNR. The input was then organized by the facilitator and the DNR, with the consent of the WMPC members, into groups of related input, known as nutshells

There was no expectation that the group would reach a consensus on any recommendation, though I was intrigued by the level of general support  for a number of key issues, including “[m]aking sure wolves remain in Wisconsin” (input 112). There was broad support for protecting livestock from wolf depredation and it will be interesting to see how the DNR handles the issue of payments for livestock loss.  Unsurprisingly, no consensus was reached regarding wolf hunting, but the group seemed to agree, generally, that it would be important to develop strategies for effective coexistence between wolves and humans.  

“There was no expectation that the group would reach a consensus on any recommendation, though I was intrigued by the level of general support  for a number of key issues, including “[m]aking sure wolves remain in Wisconsin” (input 112).”

Two significant areas which received some of the most attention and diverse perspectives were (1) the wolf count, and (2) what should the population objective be for wolves in Wisconsin. 

Gray Wolf in Jackson County. Credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

The Wolf Count

Several stakeholder groups indicated a distrust of the overall wolf count in Wisconsin, arguing the number wolves in the state is higher than the DNR indicates.  In my opinion, this is a nuanced argument.  To some, more wolves means less hunting opportunities for humans.  Reduced opportunities could mean fewer sales of hunting licenses – which could decrease funding for the DNR and the hunting economy – a staple of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.  In practice, however, 2020 saw a 12% increase in deer hunters compared to 2019 while 2021 showed a slight decrease from the 2020 numbers (per the 9- day gun hunt tallies).  

For over forty years, the DNR used territory mapping to establish a minimum count of wolves in the state. This method employed ground tracking, aerial observation and the location of collared wolves to establish a map of pack territory and estimate pack size. The combined data established the minimum population of wolves in the state. This method worked well when the wolf population was smaller; however, as the number of wolves grew, the DNR needed a new way to estimate the number of animals. Beginning in 2018, the agency incorporated scaled occupancy modeling alongside territory mapping.  The DNR compared the data gathered from the two methods and determined that the minimum count data using territory mapping was within the scaled occupancy model population.  Per the DNR, occupancy modeling is less subjective and accounts for wolves that are present in an area but undetected.  Due to the confidence in occupancy modeling, the DNR will no longer conduct a minimum count.

What should the population be?

What the wolf population should be in Wisconsin was an area of disagreement amongst the stakeholders. One camp perferred a defined number – invariably, the goal of 350 wolves as established in 1999. Other groups preferred to not define a specific number but achieve a wolf population that was healthy and sustainable through outcome based objectives. This method only establishes a minimum threshold below which the wolf population should not fall. Should the DNR move in this direction, it will be interesting to see which objectives are selected for consideration and why.

“Our job is to sharpen our tools and make them cut the right way… [T]he sole measure of our success is the effect which they have on the forest.”   

- Aldo Leopold

Overall the WMPC process was fascinating to witness and I am grateful for the work of each member. The importance of public input and citizen involvement in the decision-making that impacts our wild spaces and wildlife was on full display. The DNR, the facilitator, and the members of the WMPC spent many hours debating and engaging in critically important questions of wolf sustainability and ecological health. Given the goal was to provide input to the DNR, I believe the agency is the recipient of diverse views that represent many of the constituencies in the state. How the DNR uses this input will be something that we continue to cover here.

 


WORT Radio‘ Access Hour Presents:

Rachel Tilseth And Wolves Of Wisconsin

Mon April 4 @ 7:00 Pm  8:00 Pm

Rachel Tilseth returns with special guests Adrian Wydeven and Peter David for another informative discussion regarding the new WDNR 2022 Wolf Management Plan that will be presented to the public for review. Wort Radio Access Hour listeners are encouraged to call in with concerns or questions. http://www.wortfm.org

 

 

Wisconsin Conservation Congress Online Voting Begins April 11, 2022 Starting at 07:00 PM

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) question #44 is about use of dogs to hunt wolves. Would you support banning the use of dogs from hunting wolves in Wisconsin should wolves get delisted again?

Dogs hunting wolves wasn’t anticipated following wolf delisting in January 2012. Dogs are run through wolf territories despite WDNR alerts, resulting in dogs and wolves getting injured and killed. Hound hunting, (six hunting hounds per wolf) will force harassed wolves to alter their behavior to perceive dogs as a threat when their territories are invaded, often deadly to both species. Exhausted wolves, harassed by hounds for six-months can’t hunt, care for young or protect territory. Wisconsin anticruelty laws prohibit canine fighting. The scientific community majority and hunters agree that dogs hunting wolves is not necessary to have a successful hunt. Hound hunting is proven to be disruptive to wolves causing a dramatic increase in wolf conflicts and wolf depredation/compensation payments that could better be spent on other WDNR conservation efforts. Depredation monies should not be paid for hunting hounds being put at risk. Wolves were relisted as endangered (December 2014). Congress may take legislative action to permanently delist the wolf, returning management to Wisconsin which allows hound hunting of wolves, NOT advised by wolf experts.

The Wisconsin spring hearing questions by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) includes a question on the use of dogs to hunt wolves. This is your opportunity to comment on whether you approve the use of dogs for hunting wolves in Wisconsin. Click Here to view the questions.

Click Here to go to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Annual Spring Meeting, April 11, 2022, to find out how to register to vote.

Citizens will be able to provide input on Wisconsin’s natural resource issues through the 2022 Spring Hearings which will again be online beginning April 11, 2022 (starting at 7:00 pm) and remain open through 7:00 pm on April 14, 2022. Information on the questions being asked, how to participate, and how citizens can introduce a resolution will be posted here as it becomes available. Click Here for more information.

With the Spring Hearings online, elections for delegates will not be held this year, but the WCC is taking applications through March 11 to fill current and future vacancies. Visit the local delegate pagefor more information.

Each year the WCC accepts ideas for possible changes to natural resource policy and regulations through citizen resolutions. The resolutions must be submitted through the online submittal tool and must be received by midnight on March 11, 2022. If you have an idea for change, please follow the directions to submit your resolution.Submit a Citizen Resolution

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The state of wolf recovery in Wisconsin update.

Gray wolves in much of the lower 48 have regained federal protection following a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The most recent wolf population is estimated at 1,126 gray wolves in Wisconsin over the winter wolf count July 2021 WDNR.

The Gray wolf was extirpated from Wisconsin’s forests by the 1950s and had been hunted to near extinction in the Lower fort-eight states by the mid-1900s. As a result, the wolf, was one of the first animals to get protection against most killing, harassing, and habitat destruction under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). Since then, its limited revival has been one of the success stories of the ESA Act.

Gray wolves began entering Wisconsin through Minnesota, and by the late 1970s, Gray wolves were establishing home territories in Wisconsin. The newly created Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program began monitoring packs, and soon wolves were establishing territories throughout Wisconsin’s northern & central forests. 

The Wisconsin wolf recovery program hit some significant roadblocks starting in 2011. In 2011 just as gray wolves were about to be delisted, the Wisconsin state legislature rushed to create a law. Wisconsin Act 169 is a law that mandates a wolf hunt when they are not Endangered Species. Wisconsin held three wolf hunts and allowed hunters to run dogs on wolves. Wisconsin is the only state to allow the use of dogs; Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves. But a federal judge ordered the gray wolf be put back n the ESA in December 2014.

But the Trump Administration delisted gray wolves once again on January 4, 2021. Gray wolves were barely off the ESL when the battle to hunt them began. Hunter Nation, a conservative advocacy group, sued to get a wolf hunt. Under a court order, the Department of Natural Resources was forced to launch a one-week wolf hunt. The department reported that hunters and trappers had killed 52 wolves on the second day, falling nearly 44% of the 119-animal statewide quota. Another 81 wolves are allocated to Ojibwe tribes, for a total of 200 this year. Wolf hunters told other hunters not to register animals right away so that the hunt would stay open. In the end, the wolf hunters not only took their allotted quota but took the tribe’s quota. Hunter Nation, a conservation advocacy group, had won the right to kill an endangered species fresh off the ESL.

The hunt was Controversial for several reasons. In February, opening a wolf hunt disrupted the gray wolf’s breeding season, potentially killing pregnant females and using dogs to hunt wolves. More than anything, this forced wolf hunt proved no one was listening to the scientific community. Opposing forces were dominating the conversation. It was a conversation heard all around the world!

In February 2022, wolves were returned to the ESL in Wisconsin. The DNR is attempting to update the wolf management plan. Trying is the right word because recently, the results of the committee findings were released showing how far apart the committee is in regards to wolf management.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Management Plan Explored

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has begun the work to update wolf Management. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s investigative writer, Manish Bhatt, will be updating readers regarding the DNR wolf Management plan process, the latest wolf progress report, and the Public Attitudes Towards Wolves 2014 Survey.

Upcoming Feature Article & Radio Talk schedules for April 2022

WORT Radio Access Hour Presents Mon April 4 @ 7:00 Pm – 8:00 Pm Rachel Tilseth returns with special guests Adrian Wydeven and Peter David for another informative discussion regarding the new WDNR 2022 Wolf Management Plan that will be presented to the public for review. Wort Radio Access Hour listeners are encouraged to call in with concerns or questions.

Photograph credit John E Marriott

According to large carnivores ecologist, Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, it’s a good thing that there are people out tracking wolves and it might just discourage the revenge killing of wolves by angry fringe hunters. Why? Because having people out there who have positive attitudes towards wolves just might make a fringe hunter think twice about illegally killing one of Wisconsin’s gray wolves. I’m out there along with other citizen volunteer winter wolf trackers. There’s plenty of other citizens out enjoying the the ski & snowshoe trails as well. I’ve written a story about volunteer citizen winter wolf trackers that will be in the April issue of Silent Sports Magazine. Make sure you grab your issue before heading out on the trails! And if you are interested in participating in the program drop us an email at this website to learn how to register for upcoming workshops.

Our Mission

Ally of the Grey Wolf 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s mission is to educate so you can advocate. We are an ally of the Grey wolf. We create and promote through media communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the internet) in order to educate the public about the ecology of grey wolves. We share our experiences, our expertise, and our passion for wild grey wolves in Wisconsin, the USA and Italy. We don’t tell you, we inspire you to act by giving you the truth (Science) about wild grey wolves that are struggling to survive worldwide.

We envision a world where coexistence between people & wolves is the “norm”.

We value scientific fact. We are professionals from all walks of life and we respect our Mother Earth because of all that we have been given by her/him. We believe by saving the wolf that we will save the planet. Grey wolves are essential sentient-beings and deserve our respect. 

“We educate so you can advocate.”

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was founded in 2012 to stop the barbaric hunt of Wisconsin’s wild grey Wolf. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is not aligned or allied with any other wolf & wildlife groups in Wisconsin. 

“We are a spirit, we are a natural part of the earth, and all of our ancestors, all of our relations who have gone to the spirit world, they are here with us. That’s power. They will help us. They will help us to see if we are willing to look.” —John Trudell

Wisconsin Wolf News: Secretary Deb Haaland Upholds Treaty Rights

“The law requires that states uphold reserved tribal treaty rights. Therefore, in the case of the Ojibwe Tribes in Wisconsin, the Interior Department formally requested that the state consult and coordinate with the tribes when making wolf management decisions and respect the tribes’ right to conserve rather than kill wolves. We will take similar actions on behalf of other tribes where necessary.” by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior

The statement by Haaland makes it clear that Wisconsin’s tribes have the right to make decisions regarding wolf Management along with other stakeholders in Wisconsin. Read her full statement here.

“Gray wolves a native species, existing on the landscape have an innate right to exist, and a right to occur within areas of suitable habitat on the landscape. It’s important that we point out the ecological justification for their benefits, but at the same time, they have an innate right to exist. We need to appreciate that and allow them to persist and live on the landscape.” —Adrian Wydeven

Fine art credit Barrettbiggers

“The Return of Wolves: Isle Royal National Park” Predator/Prey Relationship

A Study in How the Predator/Prey Relationship Between Wolves and Moose was Re-Established on Isle Royale National Park

The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation Link and its collaborative partners have released a new documentary film, “The Return of Wolves: Isle Royale National Park,” a culmination of a four-year, ongoing initiative that studies how the predator/prey relationship between wolves and moose was re-established on Isle Royale National Park. Watch the film.

The corresponding free educational plans in “Lessons from the Wilderness” offer educators in the classroom and homeschool settings the opportunity to teach students about the unique relationship between wolves and moose on Isle Royale National Park and how it alters the ecosystem. This program has lessons for K-12 learners in four age groups, with a curriculum most relevant and appropriate for each grade level. VIEW CURRICULUM