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Despite Court Case, WI Wolf Hunt to Move Forward

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Wildlife protection groups say despite promising numbers in certain regions, America's gray wolf population has not recovered enough to allow hunting of the animal. (Adobe Stock)
Wildlife protection groups say despite promising numbers in certain regions, America's gray wolf population has not recovered enough to allow hunting of the animal. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI - Producer, Contact
February 16, 2021

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin officials are quickly throwing together a week-long wolf hunt for the end of the month, following a new court ruling on the long-debated issue.

It comes despite concerns from a state agency and wildlife groups about the timing.

In early January, the gray wolf was removed from the federal endangered-species list, paving the way for wolf hunts to resume.

Wisconsin law states the season should run from November through February, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was planning to start later this year.

But pro-hunter groups sued for a shortened season this winter, and a judge ordered the state to conduct one.

Even though the DNR is appealing the ruling, it's complying with the decision.

Melissa Smith, executive director for Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, said doing this during breeding season will be harmful.

"You remove one, you're essentially destabilizing and killing the entire pack," Smith contended. "So, we expect this to be pretty detrimental to our wolf population."

Wildlife groups fear allowing the hunt will reverse progress on stabilizing the animal's population.

But those who endorse the activity claimed the numbers won't be greatly reduced, while noting wolves prey on pets and farm animals.

The DNR said Wisconsin's wolf population has rebounded to just above 1,000.

The hunt will run from Feb 22-28.

Under the direction of President Joe Biden, the Interior Department is reviewing the recent move by the Trump administration to delist the gray wolf.

Smith added she feels that's why hunter advocates are eager to get a quick season going.

"And so, they want to rush and try to kill as many as they can in a short time as possible during a sensitive breeding season," Smith argued.

The groups behind the Wisconsin court case could not be reached for comment.

Nationally, a number of conservation and environmental groups have mounted a legal challenge against the federal decision to strip wolf protections.

As for next week's hunt, the DNR has set the limit of wolves to be killed at 200.

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