Wolves were delisted in January 2021 and the fight began. Fringe hunters wanted their trophy wolf! And in February 2021 they got their trophy wolf hunt because a conservative advocacy group filed a lawsuit and won. In February the hunters went over there quota causing a firestorm of controversy.
February 2021 wolf hunt went over quota taking the tribe’s portion plus more. A total of 218 wolves were harvested by state license holders. Of the 218 wolves harvested, hunting accounted for 208 wolves (95% of total take) while trapping accounted for 10 wolves 3(5% of total take). Of the 208 wolves taken by hunters, 188 (86%) were taken with the aid of trailing hounds, 16 (7%) were taken with the aid of predator calls and 4 (2%) were taken by stand/still hunting. Of the 10 taken by trappers, 7 (3%) were taken with foothold traps and 3 (2%) were taken with cable restraints WDNR Data
Six Chippewa tribes filed a lawsuit on Sept. 21 seeking to block the hunt, saying hunters killed too many wolves during the state’s February season and kill quotas from the fall hunt aren’t grounded in science.
I think the Six Ojibwa Tribe’s Lawsuit has the strongest case yet to settle the never ending argument regarding how wolves are managed in the state of Wisconsin. The tribe’s lawsuit actually has solutions that can work and it is all about the tribe’s partnership with their brother, the “wolf”! They have lived in partnership for centuries with grey wolves, and they understand that the wolf belongs on the land where he is needed; working in harmony with nature, and the creator. And they do not want their brother hunted for a trophy. They want their treaty rights! And I’m definitely for this solution!
The tribes are represented by the California-based environmental group Earthjustice. The Ojibwa’s case took an unusual turn due to a preliminary injunction all ready in place on the wolf season handed out Oct. 22 in a similar case by a Dane County judge. With the season already effectively blocked, judge Peterson said he wasn’t able to issue relief. But he heard arguments and testimony over 7 hours Friday. I have no doubt that the tribe’s injunction would of been granted but for another lawsuit that was granted first.
Traditionally the first week of December is when wolf hunters are allowed to use dogs to track and trail grey wolves. Wisconsin is the only state that allows wolf hunters to use dogs because of a law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 that was enacted during the Walker administration. But a Dane County Circuit Court Judge issued a temporary injunction Friday halting the season, which was set to begin Nov. 6.
The following is my opinion editorial that I wrote in August 2021.
NRB POLITICS THREATENS WOLF RECOVERY.
Laid out before me was the skeleton remains of a White-tailed deer: clear signs of a wolf kill site. The ribs were facing up-right, the hide was in a tight bundle beside the remains, and the fur lay on the ground in a circle all around the remains. I felt a great deal of respect for both the deer and the wolf. This was part of nature’s plan, part of the predator and prey dynamics. I came upon the site in the year 2003 while scouting my wolf tracking block, and those memories remind me of my time spent observing wolf signs during Wisconsin’s wolf recovery program.
When I became a volunteer Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Winter wolf tracker in the year 2000, there were just 66 wolf packs. I was assigned a wolf tracking block in Douglas County, Wisconsin. The gray wolf population flourished while under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Thirty years after Wisconsin began its wolf recovery program, I witnessed it disappear altogether. Wolf recovery went from zero to sixty, resulting in three consecutive wolf hunts, mandated by the conservative controlled state legislature.
The most unfortunate aspect of this process was the loss of public education & input: the conservative party controlled wolf management. And, to top it off, anti-wolf fringe hunters also came to dominate politics. They pushed misinformation instead of science. They began campaigns full of political rhetoric designed to scare the public. The propaganda by anti-wolf politicians & fringe hunters were claiming wolves are killing all the deer, and the people in the northwoods don’t want them in their backyards.
Today I’m reminded of these same political dynamics that surrounded gray wolf management in Wisconsin back then. I debated writing about the recent events surrounding wolf management in Wisconsin because I felt drained by the drama of it all. It’s just more of the same, just a different day, different year and different decade with politics that surrounds the wolf. It’s more about people than wolves because people drive the politics.
Take for instance the recent August 11, 2021 meeting of the Natural Resources Board (NRB). The chair, Dr. Prehn (R), wants a wolf hunt so bad that he refuses to relinquish his seat to Governor Ever’s (D) appointee Sandy Naas and it’s made headlines all over the world.
At the NRB meeting, chair Prehn and four other board members went against the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientific recommendations of a wolf quota of 130 and voted to up it to 300. They also voted that the DNR must get approval from the NRB if they change the 300 quota number. That move puts conservatives in the majority to control wolf hunting in November 2021.
For the most part, it’s interesting to add for public information that many are the same players from the past decade. The same party holds majority power, and refuses to hear any scientific evidence, just as before during the prior three wolf hunts. These same tactics led to the gray wolf being relisted. A Federal Judge ordered that endangered species protection be restored immediately in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan on December 19, 2014.
I’m witnessing the same political ploys being carried over to today’s NRB. In the past, the wolf advisory meetings that were run under then DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp (R) were chalked full of dirty politics and it’s no different today. It was as hard to watch then as today. Because the same anti-wolf propaganda is being carried on in today’s wolf management. Just like back then, the anti-wolf crowd would have you believe everyone living in wolf country doesn’t want them there.
Meanwhile, I don’t believe the anti-wolf’s argument that all the people living in wolf territory want them gone or hunted down to a population of 350.
Based on my experience, not everyone in wolf country hates & fears wolves. I track wolves in Douglas Ccounty, Wisconsin. In 2004 I needed a plot map for tracking and went over to the Douglas County forestry office to purchase one. While I was standing by the counter, in the office waiting for someone to wait on me, I looked up to see several pictures hanging above the counter of wolf puppies.
In conclusion, in a DNR Public Attitudes Towards Wolves Survey taken in 2014, Douglas County has the highest density of wolves and people, with 56% of the citizens wanting to live with wolves. Interestingly enough, Douglas County has the oldest populations of wolves and the most tolerant people, showing that Wisconsinites can coexist with wolves.
Therefore, I encourage Wisconsinites to get involved in the wolf management plan that is in the process of being written.
Listen on SoundCloud as Adrian and Peter discuss the following questions. Why did the State Circuit Court pass an injunction on the Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season? What decision did the federal court make in the case by Earthjustice on behalf of the Ojibwe Tribes? Do these two court cases eliminate the possibility of any wolf hunting and trapping season occurring this fall or winter? What is the current wolf population and how does this compare to 10, 20, and 30 years ago? Does it appear that the wolf population is still growing rapidly or starting to stabilize? How does the DNR count wolves? What current regulations on use of dogs for hunting wolves exist for Wisconsin, and will this change with a new wolf plan? What efforts are being made to update the state wolf conservation and management plan? Will the wolf plan make any major changes in wolf hunting and trapping regulations in Wisconsin?