Public Comments Urged for WI Wolf Management Plan
Monday, December 12, 2022
Wisconsin residents have one month left to comment on a new wolf management plan for the state and conservation groups encourage people to express their views.
The Department of Natural Resources says it's main focus is to ensure a healthy and sustainable wolf population.
Melissa Smith, director of the group Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, said there's a lot to like about the new plan. But she said they do have some concerns, including using recreational hunting to address conflicts involving wolves near farms.
She argued that science has proven that wolves can regulate their population without human intervention.
"There will never be an overpopulation of wolves," said Smith, "and it's clearly a value judgment by humans who would rather have fewer wolves on the landscape."
Supporters of the hunting contend that wolves prey on livestock.
Meanwhile, a key change would do away with a statewide numerical population goal. Agency officials say it's more flexible to rely on management approaches within designated zones across the state.
The DNR has an online comment tool on its website. Residents can also access the plan there.
The state's management plan was last updated in 2007, and Smith said pushing for a more holistic approach is long overdue since the animal's population has recovered.
She said past administrations in the governor's office made it hard to put together a long-term conservation outline.
"The scientists at the agency couldn't work on a wolf management plan," said Smith, "so this is a big shift politically."
Some Republicans and hunting enthusiasts accuse the current administration of playing politics by releasing the plan soon after the election. But the DNR says it was working on it deep into the fall and wasn't waiting for an opportune time.
Smith said whether you are a wolf supporter or not, this is a key opportunity for the public to make its voice heard on a contentious issue for the state.
The public comment period for the draft proposal ends on January 10.
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