Tag Archives: wolf management plan

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

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

 

 

Op Ed: 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.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Wolf Management Plan Committee discussed the process & its’ role.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Wolf Management Plan Committee’s first of four meetings took place on July 22, 2021 in a public Zoom meeting.

I’ve recorded thirty minutes of the meeting wherein the discussion was about the process of the committee and its’ role. WDNR has hired a facilitator to capture and put the opinions & concerns into an orderly streamlined document. There are roughly 25 wolf stakeholder organizations involved in making recommendations for the WDNR for consideration when writing the formal Wisconsin wolf management plan. I’ve also included screenshots captured from the meeting facilitator’s screen.

Retired wolf biologist, Adrian Wydeven, representative from Wisconsin’s Green Fire asked the question if there will be an area in the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan Committee where recommendations could be submitted to the legislature regarding current law (wolf hunting law Act 169).

Listen to my unedited 30 minute recording

Jody Habush Sinykin, Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter of Wisconsin representative wanted to know if there would be scientific peer reviewed information available for the committee to view?

Besides several tribes on the committee, there are experts in their fields that bring a great deal of prior knowledge regarding wolf recovery & management. Adrian Wydeven led the the Wisconsin wolf recovery program, and Jodi Habush Sinykin is an Attorney at Midwest Environmental Advocates. Habush led the effort, lawsuit, to stop the use of dos to hunt wolves.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Management Plan Committee member organizations

Government/Tribal Partners (by invitation). Representative Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee Community, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service Dan Eklund – USDA Wildlife Services, Wisconsin County Forest Association, Wisconsin Conservation Congress

Stakeholder Organizations (seats by application) Hunting/Trapping Organizations Safari Club International Wisconsin Chapter, Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association, Wisconsin Bowhunter’s Association, Wisconsin Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Wisconsin Trapper’s Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation 

Wolf Advocacy/Education Organizations Sierra Club Wisconsin Chapter, Humane Society of the United States – Wisconsin, Timber Wolf Alliance, Wisconsin Conservation Voices, Wisconsin Green Fire

Agriculture/Ranching OrganizationsWisconsin Cattleman’s Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Farmer’s Union, Wisconsin Wolf Facts

WDNR Large Carnavore Specialist, Randy Johnson runs the meeting and supports the Facilitator.
WDNR hired Raj Kamal to facilitate the meetings. Kamal has made it clear that he’s not a subject matter expert in wolf management and he is there as a guide to the process of putting together all of the committee members concerns into a document.
Themes that have emerged from committee members.
25 organizations, 124 ideas, were put together into nine themes with a few ideas put into a parking lot for clarification.
The guiding principles, every voice matters, independent facilitator is not a subject matter expert and give it time to review, discuss with colleagues. These are working documents.

Here’s what’s next on People & Wolves Talk Show…

People & Wolves Talk Show Host Alex Vaeth will be interviewing Thomas Gable, project lead on Voyageurs Wolf Project. Mark your calendars for Thursday August 5, 2021 at 06:00 PM CST. The Voyageurs Wolf Project is focused on understanding the summer ecology of wolves in and around Voyageurs National Park in the iconic Northwoods border region of Minnesota, USA. Interview will be livestreamed on People & Wolves Talk Show’s YouTube Channel and for our Italian followers you can find the show on Talk Show di persone e lupi —Lupi Italiani.

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.