The citizen’s volunteer wolf tracking program was developed by Adrian Wydeven, head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Recovery Program, as a way to involve citizens in the monitoring of wolves. Adrian Wydeven is now retired but remains active in the WDNR volunteer wolf tracking program.
I’ve been a volunteer Wisconsin DNR winter wolf tracker since the year 2000. In 2018 I was interviewed by WXPR radio show host Ken Krall about my role as a WDNR volunteer wolf tracker.
Listen to the interview
Citizens Volunteer Wolf Tracking Program
At the time of this interview in 2018 there was an attempt made by a couple Wisconsin state legislators to basically dump any type of management of wolves by the state in an effort to force the federal government to delist Gray wolves. The volunteer citizens wolf tracking program was on the chopping block if the proposed bill passed. Thankfully after public hearings at the state Capital the legislation was scrapped.
Did you know that a wolf hunting and trapping season is required by law when Wisconsin’s Gray is not listed on the Endangered Species Act. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 was approved by the Governor Scott Walker-R in April 2012. This statute authorizes and requires a wolf hunting and trapping season. Numerous season and application details were described in the statute. Out of all the states that hunted wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves”.
Act 169 authorized the Department to delineate harvest management zones, set harvest quotas, and determine the number of licenses to be issued to accomplish the harvest objective.
Six-hundred and fifty-four gray wolves were killed during Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons that took place in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Thankfully, a federal judge in December 2014 threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. This decision banned further wolf hunting and trapping in three states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection.
Once a year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publishes a Wolf Monitoring Report 2018-2019 that was conducted using a territory mapping with telemetry technique, summer howl surveys, winter snow track surveys, recovery of dead wolves, depredation investigations, and collection of public observation reports.
In April 2019 the statewide minimum wolf population count was 914-978 wolves, a 1% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 978 gray wolves living throughout Wisconsin’s northern and central forests, minimum winter count, according to the WDNR Wolf Progress Report 2018-2019. All of this points to a wolf population that is self regulating or leveling off according to land carrying capacity.
A total of 41 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves.
Once again, according to the Wolf Progress Report, vehicle collisions (44%) and illegal kills (24%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were slightly higher than rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 94% of known cause detected mortalities overall.
During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 68 wolf complaints (wolf depredations) of the 121 investigated. While the number of confirmed livestock incidents increased from 37 in 2017-2018, the number of farms affected decreased from 31 the past 2 years.
The use of flandry, red strips of material, is used as deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.
There’s always work to be done when it comes to protecting livestock and wolves…
Watch the interview of Brad Koele WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist. I interviewed Koele on June 11, 2015 at the WDNR Wolf Population meeting held in Wausau Wisconsin.
Tilseth sold 25 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin and said they deter wolves from coming near livestock.
“It can be seen from a mile away,” she explained. “It operates with a six volt battery giving up to 12 months of nonstop protection. A light sensor automatically turns it on when it’s at dusk and turns it off during the day.”
These lights are just one of the abatements available to livestock producers in Wisconsin.
Once again it has been proven in scientific fact that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is keeping White-tailed deer populations healthy.
White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. White-tailed deer density estimates increased 7% statewide from the previous year estimate, but the majority of that increase was in wolf management unit 6 considered to be mostly unsuitable for wolf pack development. Wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range, contain 76% of the minimum winter wolf count. Deer density estimates remained stable at 25.3 deer / square mile of deer range in primary wolf range.
Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin
The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection; proving the public wants gray wolves on the landscape! The Gray wolf is part is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy!
Is there such a thing as an honest politician? If politicians & special interests get their way and delist the wolf, then they condemn them to be eradicated all over again.
Wolf recovery is a complex issue; a down right balancing act for the Wisconsin wolf.
The wolf population grew by a mere six percent this year (from 866-956). Politicians are spinning that six percent as “wolf population at all time high” but let’s not hit the panic button already.
What’s at stake is a species at risk of extinction. The imperiled gray wolf has recovered to less than two percent of its original range in the lower 48 states.
What’s the cause?
Wolves have been driven to extinction ever since men began developing expensive cattle breeds. We are looking towards Big Ag as the primary cause of wolf hatred. They’ll fuel the fire and throw the cash on it. If we let them.
It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad.
As with any cause, a biased or misleading view can be used to promote, to publicize a particular political cause or point of view. Here we have several anti-wolf politicians making claims to distort the public’ veiw of wolves; wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herds, attacking livestock and killing hunting dogs. Let’s set the record straight; wolves do hunt White-tailed deer, have killed some some livestock and did kill 37 bear hunting dogs. But in reality; is there a big-bad-wolf here? Let’s get the facts before we sanction the killing of an endangered species. Read more Click here
Have you written your letter to the editor yet? Take action for wolves.
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.
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