WI Faces Lawsuit Over Wolf-Hunt Program
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
MADISON, Wis. - Animal protection groups hope to overturn Wisconsin's controversial law allowing wolf hunts. A newly filed lawsuit follows months of criticism of key decisions about the program and its effect on the gray wolf population.
A handful of groups have argued that the state law is unconstitutional because it limits the impact of population estimates. After the gray wolf was de-listed from the federal Endangered Species Act, hunters far exceeded a quota in a special hunt in February. There also is concern that the established quota of 300 for a wolf hunt this November is too high.
Melissa Smith, executive director of the group Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, said it's proof the state statute is aggressive.
"Wolves don't know state borders. They don't know if they're in Michigan or in Minnesota or in Illinois," she said. "But if they cross in here, they're in a really deadly place."
She noted that many other states aren't scheduling wolf hunts, even with federal protections removed. The Department of Natural Resources, named in the suit, declined to comment on the case. Agency biologists recommended a smaller quota this fall, but the Natural Resources Board still approved a higher total. Wisconsin law requires an annual hunt when federal wolf protections aren't in place.
Plaintiffs said the Resources Board ignored the science, and call attention to a panel member still being allowed to cast votes, even though their term expired in May.
Michelle Lute, national carnivore conservation manager of the group Project Coyote, said the current system in Wisconsin is broken.
"There are problems with DNR's population modeling," she said, "the February hunt interrupted their winter count of the population, and by the DNR's own admission, the level of uncertainty in their understanding means we must proceed cautiously."
Conservation groups contend the wolf population is still too fragile to resume activity. Smith said they've exhausted other avenues available to the public to pause the hunts, but were eventually left with no other option.
"We deserve a voice," she said, "and this is the best way we could find to have that voice."
In addition to some big-game hunters backing the program, farmers have argued that wolves prey on their livestock. The state-level lawsuit is not connected to national efforts to reinstate federal protections.
get more stories like this via email
This afternoon, members of the public will get to have a say on the management plan for the first new aquatic preserve created in Florida in 32 years…
May is Community Action Month, and local agencies helping low-income families hope Congress signs off on a plan to bolster and modernize their …
After two decades of drought and with no relief in sight, many Utahns are looking for ways to conserve water, and for many residents, part of the …
May is Wildfire Awareness Month, and state officials are encouraging Coloradans to get up to speed on prevention and emergency-exit strategies if …
The White House is fielding pitches from top Democratic lawmakers about their desire to dramatically expand student loan forgiveness. While a …
Health and Wellness
As the school year winds down, education leaders are shedding light on increased mental-health demands among students, including thoughts of suicide…
A new report found dishonest employers steal from some 213,000 people in Ohio each year by paying them less than the minimum wage; and it is just one …
Illinois has a new law banning the sale and possession of "ghost guns," essentially untraceable firearms that are sold in kit-form online or at gun sh…