Tag Archives: wolf management plan

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.