US Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) Proposes Removing Endangered Species Act Protection for Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 States…

…Duffy wants management returned to the states and court challenges of management plans would not be allowed under his proposal. Duffy proposes removing wolves from Endangered Species Act Law would eliminate possible court challenges by Rick Olivo Ashland Daily Press

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy again is trying to kill Endangered Species Act protection for wolves, this time as he is headed into a contentious election.

His proposal introduced earlier this month marks the fourth time in three years that members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have tried to reverse federal court actions that reinstated wolf protections. Previous efforts by Duffy and former Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Shorewood have gone nowhere.

In a news release issued by Duffy, he said the bill would return management of the roughly 900 wolves in Wisconsin to state officials.

“Wisconsin deserves the opportunity to use science-based wildlife management for our own gray wolf population, because we know what’s better for our state’s ecosystem better than activist judges in Washington,” Duffy said. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to delist the gray wolf because Wisconsin farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock, and they should not suffer because of the decisions made by an overreaching federal government a thousand miles away.”

The wolf decline

Wolves were virtually extirpated in Wisconsin by hunters and farmers who feared depredations to livestock and who were also encouraged by bounties for wolf kills. Although wolves were essentially extinct in the state by the 1950s, the bounty remained in existence until 1957.

In the 1970s, wolves naturally began to make a comeback in the state and they were added to the Endangered Species Act in 1974, with the state following suit in 1975. In the face of growing numbers of wolves in the state, wolves were removed from the Endangered

Species Act in 2012 after a number of court challenges. A further legal challenge resulted in wolves being relisted in 2014.

Opponents of the relisting say it gives farmers and ranchers no legal avenue to protect their livestock from wolves.

Duffy’s proposal would allow all 48 of the continental United States to control their own populations and it includes a clause that says the action “shall not be subject to judicial review.”

Duffy Communications Director Mark Bednar said the bill, known as the Manage our Wolves Act, has bipartisan support. Its cosponsors include Washington representatives Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside and Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Spokane and Minnesota congressman Collin Peterson, D-Detroit Lakes. He said the bill is different than earlier efforts.

“This would delist grey wolves over a wide range, the entire 48 states, rather than just reissue the older Fish and Wildlife Service rule, which is what the previous bill did; it was more narrow in scope, delisting protections only in the upper Midwest and in Wyoming.”

In an interview with radio-based Brownfield Ag News, Duffy said he has a slim-but-real possibility of getting the bill passed in the House by the end of September.

“We have the votes to pass it (in the House). Once that happens, I’ve got a few senators who have indicated they will introduce a companion bill in the Senate so we can get a package to the president’s desk,” Duffy told Brownfield.

Bednar said the act reflects the policy not only of the Trump administration, but also of the Obama administration, both of which agreed that wolves should be delisted.

“But they were and are being prevented from doing so because of the courts,” he said.

Pros and cons

There are arguments for and against delisting. Farmers are among those who most vocally favor removing protections.

Jack Johnson, a director with the North Central Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, told Wisconsin Public Radio in January that he supports any effort to delist the wolf.

“The state could start managing them and get a little control over the numbers, because right (now) they’re expanding way more than we’ve got room for them,” Johnson said.

The state spent $200,505 in wolf-damage payments to those who lost animals or livestock in 2015. Earlier this year, state officials were organizing claims from 2016, primarily from farmers and bear hunters whose dogs strayed into wolf territory and were killed.

“Given the number of dogs that were killed, the significant increase in the compensation payments related to hunting dogs, that is likely to drive an increase in the total amount of compensation,” said Dave MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

He said 31 farms experienced wolf depredation or harassment in 2016 compared to the 35 farms in 2015.

Wolf advocates remain opposed to placing the wolf back under state management. Rachel Tilseth, founder of the website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, said her organization has little faith in the state to do what is best for the animals.

“Because apparently management of wolves means a wolf hunt,” Tilseth said. “For them, that’s the only way that they feel they can manage them, is through the hunting and trapping and barbaric use of dogs.”

Peter David, wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, said tribes also are concerned about the precedent that could be set with wolf delisting legislation.

“There are real concerns about any effort that undermines the Endangered Species Act if we start cherry-picking,” David said.

Wisconsin tribes oppose a wolf hunt and did not allow wolf hunting on reservations prior to the relisting.

“The tribes in general have supported maintaining wolves on the Endangered Species Act because of the cultural significance of wolves,” said David. “The tribes have felt those types of protections are appropriate for wolves.”

Meanwhile, the Sigurd Olson-based Timber Wolf Alliance is not opposed to the concept of delisting, but according to Alliance head Adrian Wyd even, the devil is in the details.

“Historically, the Timber Wolf Alliance has supported efforts to downlist and delist wolves in the western Great Lakes region, done through normal Endangered Species processes through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” he said. The Alliance has favored reducing the timber wolf status to threatened from endangered and supported delisting in 2006 and 2011.

“But I think we would have some concerns about delisting wolves throughout the U.S. without a much more thorough assessment and analysis, something that should be done through the Fish and Wildlife Service, not just as a congressional action.”

Wydeven said that by agreeing with delisting in the past, the Alliance has concluded that states can be good conservationists in managing state wolf populations.

Nevertheless, many members of the Alliance were uncomfortable with the “overly aggressive” hunting goals set by the state.

“I am sure there would be concerns by our membership if that is done nationwide,” he said.


Featured image credit NPS photo / JMills

Letter to the editor: We don’t need wolf hunting seasons to control wolf depredation


Dear Editor: 

Sen. Tom Tiffany promotes wolf delisting to restart wolf hunting seasons, else “you’re going to see attacks on pets, cattle and hopefully not people.” He warns hunters to “watch out for wolves.”
Like his wolf consultant, bear hounder Laurie Groskopf, Tiffany exaggerates, misleads, and scaremongers.
Listed or delisted, wolves posing threat to humans can be controlled. Wild healthy wolves attacking a human is practically nonexistent. Wolf attacks on pets are rare. Walking pets on leash or keeping them in human presence prevents such attacks.
Finally, most wolves are not causing problems. Wolf attacks on cattle involve “problem” wolves.
Wolf seasons or no wolf seasons, when wolves are delisted and under state management, policy changes: The state can immediately use United States Fish and Wildlife Services and landowner shooting permits to lethally handle problem wolves — those depredating/harassing domestic animals. After delisting in January 2012, that happened.
In 2013, USFWS stated that killing depredating wolves has made “a huge difference” in reducing harassment. Shooting permits and the “In-the-Act” provision, which allows killing depredating wolves immediately, have also been valuable tools. Wolf complaint responses have been adequate and effective.
Adrian Wydeven, past state wolf manager/biologist, said wolves can be managed without public seasons if USFWS and landowners are provided adequate control and flexibility. In his 2012 governor-ordered report, James Kroll recommended managing wolves “to reduce conflicts” rather than at any specific number.
But Tiffany and Groskopf only speak of wolf seasons, aimlessly cutting wolves down until some harsh low number is reached. They do not even acknowledge post-delisting “conflict management” was key to reducing wolf depredation/harassment.

Shirley Clements

Opinion editorial: Numbers don’t add up in wolf-hound debate

By Adrian Wydeven 

As often is the case with ecological issues, simple answers or solutions are often inadequate or incorrect. 
Everyone likes a good mystery, especially one where an unlikely candidate is revealed as the culprit. This “Ah ha!” moment is a staple of the genre and most of us can remember the satisfaction of discovering the one responsible. Sherlock Holmes, Colombo and Nancy Drew were the masters of the reveal.
Such a mystery may be playing out in Wisconsin right now with record high numbers of wolf depredations on hunting hounds. The initial suspect: record high wolf numbers. The initial conclusion: Increased advocacy for a hunting season on wolves believing that fewer wolves would mean fewer hounds being attacked by wolves.
However, just like the classic mysteries, there is more to this story.
No one disputes that the summer and early fall of 2016 saw record depredations by wolves on hounds in Wisconsin. A total of 37 hounds have been killed since July 1 — the beginning of the bear training period and hunting season. Plus, three other hounds were killed earlier in the year, for a total of 40 hounds killed in 2016.
Some people attribute the high number of hounds killed to the current record high population of wolves (866 wolves in late winter 2016) and the lack of wolf hunting season over the last two years. Seems like a logical conclusion, but things are often not as simple as they first appear.
Do wolf numbers correlate with wolves killing hounds? The evidence suggests this might not necessarily be the case. In 2012, only seven dogs were killed and yet there were nearly as many wolves in 2012 as there were in 2016 (815 wolves in late winter 2012).
In other words, the wolf populations in 2012 and 2016 were similar, yet these two years represent the highest and the lowest numbers of hounds killed by wolves in the last 13 years. Obviously, there is more to this story than just more wolves killing more hounds.
What else influences the interactions between wolves and hound dogs? Bear hunting culture and policy are two other important factors that could influence the number of hounds killed by wolves.
Could a change in bear hunting policy be a factor? Wisconsin is a major destination for bear hunting and training — with some of the highest bear densities and bear harvest success rates in the nation.

Prior to July 2015, people putting out bait and handling hounds used to train on bears were required to buy a Class B Bear Permit. The permit cost residents $14 and nonresidents $110. The permit and fees were eliminated in 2015 and now anyone can freely bait for bears, and train their dogs on bears. This may have increased baiting and training of dogs on bears in Wisconsin, putting more bear hunters and hounds in the hunt, especially from out-of-state residents with the license fee no longer a barrier.
Sometimes changes in regulations cause unintended consequences. The elimination of the Class B Bear Permit, which has led to more hunters baiting and training hounds on the landscape, plus the extensive baiting period in Wisconsin — about 145 days in Wisconsin vs. a maximum of 31 days in other states — may explain the recent spike in wolf kill on hounds.
I cannot state that the removal of Class B licenses is the only reason wolves are killing more hounds. More sleuthing may be required. Yet as often is the case with ecological issues, simple answers or solutions are often inadequate or incorrect.
The “Ah-ha!” moment may be more elusive in cases involving complex interactions between social and ecological factors. In the case of hounds and wolves, the initial culprit — the record high wolf population or lack of wolf hunting season — do not adequately explain the record numbers of wolf attacks on hounds. Like any good detective, it is important to look closely at all of the potential culprits before drawing conclusions.
Adrian Wydeven is a former wolf biologist at the Department of Natural Resources and the coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance at Northland College.



Featured image: John E Marriott

5 things to know for Wolf Week in Wisconsin

Source Wisconsin has more than 200 wolf packs and 28 lone wolves and you can help track them this winter. Click HERE to learn about how you can help track wolves this winter. 
The state Department of Natural Resources will hold 15 workshops or classes on tracking and wolf ecology from now to February and is recruiting volunteers to help monitor the state’s wild canines.
Gray wolf numbers have increased in the Great Lakes region especially since a federal judge returned the animals to the endangered species list in 2014. Gray wolves are also known as timber wolves.
Some farmers, hunters and Republican politicians want the wolves off that list and subject to hunting, because wolves can be a menace to small ranchers. But advocates for the canines say the animals play an important role in the ecosystems.
Wolves in western states have preyed on elk, which in turn helped the growth of aspen and willow trees and decreased erosion along streams where the trees take root, said Adrian Wydeven, the coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance, at the private Northland College in Ashland. In Wisconsin, wolves have decreased the beaver population to the benefit of trout streams previously plugged up by beaver dams, Wydeven said.

In 1990 the Timber Wolf Alliance started Wolf Awareness Week, an educational effort which runs through Saturday. There’s a wolf ecology workshop in Ashland Saturday as part of the week.

In honor of wolf awareness, here are some fast facts about wolves in the Great Lakes.

1.  Wisconsin has nearly 900 wolves this year. That’s up 16 percent from 2015, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance.

2.  Encountering a wild wolf at close range is still a rare occurrence, according to the DNR’s “Living with wolves” page. People with pets should keep them in earshot or on a leash while in “wolf country” — Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

3.  In 2014 more Wisconsin residents surveyed by the DNR viewed wolves in a favorable light compared to those with unfavorable feelings toward wolves. About 26 percent of people in areas with wolf habitats wanted the population to stay steady, and 29 percent of people outside of wolf range wanted wolf numbers to stay the same in 2014. About 750 wolves made Wisconsin home in 2014-15. 

4.  Minnesota has the largest wolf population among Great Lakes states with more than 400 packs and roughly 2,200 wolves total, according to the Timber Wolf Alliance. Michigan’s wolf population estimate is just over 600 and declined slightly from 2014 to 2016

5. You can help track wolves and other Wisconsin carnivores. Volunteers have to take a wolf ecology course from the DNR, Timber Wolf Alliance or Timber Wolf Information Network as well as a DNR tracking course and a mammal track test. Volunteers complete three wildlife surveys and submit their findings to the state. 
Information on courses and the tracking program is available online at
Featured art is this year’s Wolf Awareness Week poster from Timber Wolf Alliance, for how to order yours click HERE

WPR Joy Cardin Show – Big Question: Who Should Control Wisconsin’s Wolf Population?

Aired September 14, 2016 Listen to Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio  Click HERE to listen to the broadcast- Supporters of a gray wolf hunt in Wisconsin will meet Thursday to discuss the animal’s increasing presence in the state and an uptick in the number of attacks on livestock, hunting dogs and pets. Our guests weigh in on this week’s Big Question: Should Wisconsin’s wolf population be managed by the state or remain federally protected as an endangered species? Guests are: Adrian Wydeven and Adrian Treves. 


The following is my comment and the host used part of (in bold) it at the end of the show:

If the state of Wisconsin could be trusted to manage a endangered species then state management would be ideal. But Wisconsin legislature made it an emergency law, Act 169 in 2011, that when the wolf isn’t on the endangered species list it will be hunted. Hunted with the barbaric method of using the wolf’s relative, the dog to track and trail the wolf. Wisconsin being the only state that allows the use of dogs to hunt wolves, quite literally throws dogs to wolves. This type of aggressive hunt on wolves right off the ESL is in no way healthy wolf management. It’s not managing an endangered species for its health, instead it caters to special interest groups with proven track records of hatred towards the wolf. I was at the Wisconsin DNR wolf advisory committee meetings and witnessed the anti-wolf sentiment first hand. When changing wolf management zone borders, Adrian Wydeven pointed out specific areas in Bayfield county that had a high rate of depredations and should hold a special hunt in there, the response was this: that hunters won’t go for that. And then another committee member stated in a question; isn’t that why we hold a hunt to manage problem wolves? The committee room burst into laughter, I kid you not. 

The only way to hold the state accountable for handling wolf management is to take it out of the hands of politics, put in back into the hands of science not politics that can change according to party lines, at the party in power. DNR secretary must be an elected position, by the people. Our state wolf management must be based on science not political rhetoric.  

In its current state wolves are protected, but certainly Not safe if these political clowns with failed conservation scores, like Jarchow & Tiffany get their way. I’ve worked on WI wolf recovery since 1999 as one of Adrian Wydeven’s WI DNR wolf trackers. Let’s get back on track managing the wolf for the health of the species, health of the land and learn how to live with wolves. There’s no big bad wolf here. Rachel Tilseth – Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin 


Featured image John E Marriott

Wisconsin Wolves Presentation Thursday March 24 at 7 p.m. At the Great Lakes Visitor Center

Source: Wolves program set for Thursday at NGLVC by Sara M Chase, Ashland Daily Press

Children’s stories and fairy tales perpetuate accounts of the dangers of wolves, from the wolf that eats Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother to the big bad wolf who huffs and puffs and blows down the little piggy’s houses.

That’s programmed people from their childhood to be leery of these furry, four-legged creatures. However, Adrian Wydeven will be presenting an update on Wisconsin Wolves: ecological research, population growth, and latest management issues this Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (NGLVC).

Wydeven, the coordinator of the Timber Wolf Alliance at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College, said this will be a presentation delving into the current facts on the state’s wolves.

“It’ll be a presentation on wolf ecology and management and some updates on what’s going on with wolves in the state,” he said. “I think a wolf is an often misunderstood animal. There is a lot of mythology that’s been developed around wolves.”

Wydeven explained that his presentation would provide updates on what is happening with wolves in northern Wisconsin, including the Chequamegon Bay area and the northwest parts of the state.
“We’ll talk about how the population’s doing, what surveys are finding and then talk about some of the ecological benefits of wolves,” he said.
Wydeven said he would address some of the myths people have about wolves.
“Things like whether they need to be fearful to walk their dogs in the woods or whether they need to fear for themselves and what the impact wolves are having on the deer population and the impact they have on livestock,” he said. “Things like that, which are often of concern to people.”
Wydeven said that some of his key talking points would be the ecological value of wolves, the role they play in the ecosystem, the impact they have on deer and livestock, what it means to have a wolf population in our backyards and how do people need to behave differently when they walk in the forest or travel to wolf areas with the presence of wolves versus when they’re weren’t wolves there. He’ll also try to dispel some of the myths that people have about wolves.
“They [people] don’t need to be fearful,” he said. “Wolves very rarely attack people and living with wolves shouldn’t be of concern to people.”
Wydeven said he hopes to alleviate concerns.
“Hopefully, people develop a better appreciation of the wolves in the area,” he said. “We are probably lucky to live in a place that is wild enough to have wolves and it adds to the diversity and enjoyment of our environment.”
Wydeven explained what he hopes people take away from Thursday’s presentation.
“Hopefully a better understanding of what’s going on with wolves in the state and the status of their management,” he said, reiterating that he hopes it will alleviate or address concerns about wolves people may have.
Wydeven said those interested in wolves in general and those wanting to learn more about what’s going on with wolves in Wisconsin will benefit from the presentation.
“If they’ve got concerns about the impact wolves have, if they’re concerned about going out in the woods with wolves, hopefully this will educate them more about wolves so that they can be more at ease when they travel in areas where there’s wolves and continue to enjoy our forests and walk around and walk their pets in the areas that wolves are in as well, he said.”
Wydeven discussed some of the concerns he would be addressing.
“(There are) concerns that they have a major impact on the deer herd or that they are going to devastate the livestock industry or that it becomes unsafe to walk in an area where there’s wolves or that your dogs are at high risk if there’s a wolf population in the area,” he said. “Those are concerns that have developed and they are not realistic and we want to make sure to address those so people are at ease and have a better understanding of the animal.”
The NGLVC is located at 29270 Co. Hwy. G. For more information on this or other events at the NGLVC visit them online at or call them at 715-685-9983.
This presentation is being sponsored by the Friends of the North Pikes Creek Wetlands and is free and open to the public. For more information visit


Featured image: photograph by Owen Slater Photography click HERE