Tag Archives: natural resources board

This past year has been quite the whirlwind for Wisconsin’s grey Wolf!

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.

A Douglas County wolf. Credit Snapshot Wisconsin .

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

Of the 208 wolves taken by hunters, 188 (86%) were taken with the aid of trailing hounds. WDNR February 2021 Wolf Hunting Data. Photograph credit Wisconsin Wolf Hunting’s Facebook page.

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.


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.

The Natural Resources Board chair Dr. Prehn (R).

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.

Douglas County Forest Office in Solon Springs, Wisconsin

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?

Listen to the recording of Monday Night’s Show: WORT Radio’ Access Hour of Wisconsin’s Thirty-First Wolf Awareness Week Show

Rachel Tilseth, the author of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, hosted this week’s Access Hour. She was joined by Alexander Vaeth this past Monday, October 11th at 07:00 PM on WORT Radio’ Access Hour, where they hosted an in-depth conversation about Wisconsin’s Thirty-First Wolf Awareness Week (WAW) with special guests Adrian Wydeven; who led the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Recovery Program from 1990 through 2013, and Peter David; a wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

In 1990, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the proclamation of Wisconsin Wolf Awareness Week (WAW), a time to celebrate these important animals, by highlighting the threats to their survival, spread the word about what you can do to help wolves stay protected, and help humans learn to live alongside them.

Natural Resources Board’s fall harvest quota will be an unprecedented reduction to the viability of Wisconsin’s wolf population.

Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Action on the Fall Wolf Hunt Quota

Rhinelander, WI. Wisconsin’s Green Fire statement on August 11, 2021

On August 11, 2021, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) voted 5-2 to establish a quota of 300 wolves for the fall 2021 wolf hunt.
The removal of 300 wolves again this fall, on top of the removal of at least 218 wolves during the three-day February wolf hunt, could result in a population of as many as 1000 wolves being reduced by over 50 to 60% or more.

This unprecedented reduction will risk long-term damage to the viability of the wolf population. It would also be likely to trigger a review of Wisconsin’s wolf management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will support arguments for re-listing wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven, testified to the NRB Wednesday on behalf of Wisconsin’s Green Fire. Wydeven, who spent 23 years as the wolf specialist for Wisconsin DNR, offered this comment: “Removing 300 wolves in another hunt would likely have a de-stabilizing effect on almost every wolf pack in the state. There is no other wildlife species where that level of reduction would be acceptable. And it’s highly likely it would trigger a US Fish and Wildlife Service review of state management”.

Given the significant uncertainties resulting from the February 2021 hunt there is in fact no quota number for a fall wolf hunt that can be justified if we want to maintain stability of our wolf population. The models used to track Wisconsin’s wolf population were not designed to account for the large and unprecedented hunt that occurred in February, in the middle of the wolf breeding season.

Wydeven’s testimony points to three levels of uncertainty regarding the current status of wolves in Wisconsin, making it difficult to justify a state-wide wolf harvest:

  1. The winter 2020/2021 wolf population estimating process was cut short of the normal surveying opportunity through mid or late March due to the February wolf harvest.
  2. The number of wolves actually removed from the population in February is certain to be larger than the number of registered kills, although it is difficult to estimate to what extent.
  3. The impact of the harvest occurring during the middle of the wolf breeding season removed pregnant females and alpha males, and caused overall disruptions of packs, all of which will have drastically reduced pup recruitment in spring 2021. Preliminary evidence of this effect can be seen in howling surveys currently being conducted, but it is too early to know the extent of that loss.
    According to Wydeven: “Given these high levels of uncertainty over the pre-harvest wolf population, uncertainty over the actual removal due to the harvest, and uncertainty over impacts of the harvest on pup production and recruitment, it is difficult if not impossible to justify any wolf harvest quota in Wisconsin if we are committed to maintaining the long-term sustainability of the population”.
    Wisconsin’s adjacent states of Michigan and Minnesota are not planning a fall 2021 wolf harvest. The adjacent states of Minnesota and Michigan are not planning wolf harvest in fall 2021. Michigan with a wolf population of about 700 wolves has no immediate plans for a wolf harvest. Minnesota with a population of about 2,800 wolves has decided to hold off on holding a wolf harvest until an updated approved state wolf plan is in place. Wisconsin alone is pushing ahead with a wolf harvest because it is required to do so by state law.

Wisconsin’s Green Fire is a statewide membership organization dedicated to science-based management of natural resources. The WGF Wildlife work group members and authors of this testimony are natural resource professionals have carefully evaluated wolf population and harvest data and are deeply familiar with the populations models used by WDNR.
PO Box 1206, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501

Email: Info@wigreenfire.org

Ojibwe leaders are outraged as state officials pushed forward plans to kill hundreds more animals in November 2021 wolf hunt.

Ojibwe bands are evaluating their options and plan to respond with a wolf declaration shortly. For tribes, the best use of wolves comes in the form of live animals, on the land, helping to enhance and maintain healthy ecosystems

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

In a press release on August 13, 2013 Ojibwe leaders respond. “The DNR Natural Resources Board made clear that its decision to set the wolf quota at 300 has nothing to do with science or stewardship,” said Michael Isham, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission executive administrator. “This reckless approach to ma’iingan management is why tribes have filed a brief in support of lawsuits that seek the restoration of federal protection for wolves.”

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission is an intertribal agency comprised of eleven Ojibwe bands in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Minnesota. GLIFWC works with member bands to both manage and preserve off-reservation treaty reserved resources. The Voigt Intertribal Task Force develops policy recommendations for GLIFWC-member tribes in the 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories. Ma’iingan is the Ojibwe Anishinaabe word for wolf. Please visit www.glifwc.org for more information.

Press Release from Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission August 13, 2021
Press Release from Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission August 13, 2021

Ojibwe Treaty rights

This reckless approach to ma’iingan management is why tribes have filed a brief in support of lawsuits that seek the restoration of federal protection for wolves.

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

Wisconsin’s tribes spoke up for their brother “Ma’iingan” the wolf and Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) voted no to early wolf hunt.

Image credit stock photo

Thankfully Wisconsin’s tribes spoke up for thier brother “Ma’iingan” the wolf and the Natural Resources Board voted no to an early February wolf hunt.

The following is from NPR article on today’s NRB hearing.

Board member Marcy West questioned whether a hunt would be worth risking the state’s relationships with tribes and other organizations, as well as state management of the wolf.

“I just really have a concern that we have to prove right now that the state is credible in managing the population,” said West. 

Much of the concern discussed by the board revolved around the state’s obligations to Wisconsin tribes.

Representatives of the Red Cliff, Menominee, Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River and Lac du Flambeau tribes urged the board not to hold a wolf hunt this winter. Several referenced a 1983 court ruling known as the Voigt Decision that affirms tribal rights to hunt, fish and gather in ceded territory under treaties with the federal government. Under the ruling, the state must consult with tribes on natural resource management.

“In making any decision about wolves, the department must abide by the requirements to consult and collaborate with the tribes as set forth in court decisions and agreements,” said Mic Isham, executive administrator with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Tribal officials said the hunt would have a detrimental impact on the wolf population in Wisconsin. Tribal members, including Red Cliff tribal elder Marvin Defoe, said they view the wolf as a brother and that the animal is significant to their cultural and religious practices.

Continue reading Wisconsin’s tribes spoke up for their brother “Ma’iingan” the wolf and Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) voted no to early wolf hunt.