Wisconsin's wolf management plan back in the spotlight
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
The long-awaited Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan is up for adoption next week by the state's Department of Natural Resources, and the board will likely get an earful from both opponents and supporters during the public hearing.
The updated draft management plan includes rules to govern any future recreational wolf hunting seasons. In late 2022, the DNR released a draft plan wolf advocates were ready to accept.
Kim Hollis, a member of the board of directors for Friends of the Wisconsin Wolves and Wildlife, said since then, another "revised" plan has surfaced.
"We kind of got the rug pulled out from under us because at the last minute the plan was changed," Hollis asserted. "It's not at all similar to the original draft plan."
Two years ago, Wisconsin hunters killed 218 wolves in a week, far exceeding the state's limit of 119, which resulted in a lawsuit against the DNR by animal welfare groups. A judge ultimately required the agency to prepare an updated wolf management plan prior to another hunting season.
When the original draft plan was released, Hollis acknowledged wolf advocates were encouraged it included recommendations not only from hunters and trappers, but also tribes and wildlife advocates. But she worries the DNR will be more persuaded by those who want to hunt wolves than pro-wildlife stakeholders.
"The hunters and trappers, even though they're a smaller group and the majority of the public wanted more rules, they make a lot of noise and they seek to be treated differently," Hollis contended. "Because I think they've become accustomed to that over all these years."
Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature to force the DNR to include a hard cap on the state's wolf population in the new management plan. The agency has declined to do so, saying a cap would limit flexibility in managing the wolf population.
The DNR meets at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 25 in the State Natural Resources Building with online viewing also available.
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