Wis. wolf population falls following hunting season

copyrighted Hayden wolf in lodgepoles


Amid continuing controversy about hunting Wisconsin’s gray wolves, preliminary data shows Wisconsin’s wolf population has decreased by 19 percent over the past year due to hunting and trapping across the state.

According to the report released by the Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin’s wolf population at the end of this winter sat at a minimum of 658, down from 809 wolves last year.

“The Wolf Advisory Committee last year recommended a more aggressive harvest to start bringing the population down towards the goal that is stated in the 1999 Wolf Management Plan, which is 350 animals,” Jane Wiedenhoeft, assistant large carnivore biologist at the DNR, said.

The decrease this year is the first major decline in Wisconsin’s wolf population since the grey wolf’s addition to the federal endangered species list in 1974. Wisconsin’s wolf population hit an all time low in 1979 with 25 wolves, Wiedenhoeft said.

After the species was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2012, 117 wolves were killed by hunters in the first regulated wolf hunt in Wisconsin history, according to DNR figures.

“Opinions differ on how many wolves are good for the state. Some people think we could have more wolves in the state, and others think we could have much fewer wolves in the state. We’re trying to find that balance between what people can tolerate and what is a sustainable number,” Wiedenhoeft said.

With the removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list in 2012 came a variety of changes in the ways in which Wisconsin’s wolf population is monitored, as well as what information is shared with the public, a topic of concern for some wildlife biologists.

University of Wisconsin environmental studies professor Adrian Treves, an expert on public opinion about wolves, raised concerns regarding the DNR’s new reporting processes.

“Wisconsin has had a long tradition of transparency and openness in the presentation and analysis and interpretation of data of the wolf population,” Treves said. “For almost 30 years, it’s been a public process with quite a bit of participation and transparency until the end of January 2012.”

The monitoring processes for wolves have not changed other than the addition of wolf harvest data from across the state, Wiedenhoeft said.

The meeting in which preliminary wolf count data is shared and discussed was moved behind closed doors for the first time this year, while it was previously public, she said.

Treves said this new practice reduced transparency for the scientific community to analyze data.

“There’s a great deal of scientific concern about the data released this week because the methods have changed, the reporting has changed, and I’m not able to evaluate the quality of the data in the way I was able to do for the last 14 years,” Treves said.

Wiedenhoeft said the purpose of moving the meeting to a staff-only setting was to prevent information about wolf numbers and locations from reaching hunters keen on finding wolf hot spots.

With significant concerns among conservationists regarding the state’s current goal of 350 wolves, more than double the current population, the DNR in coordination with the Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee are currently working on an updated quota for wolf populations in the state, she said.

4 thoughts on “Wis. wolf population falls following hunting season

  1. Reblogged this on Our Wisconsin, Our Wildlife and commented:
    So why is the DNR concerned about wolf killers finding out where packs are? Considering that their sham “Wolf Advisory Committee” is stacked with the very same anti-wolf groups and individuals that give their followers the information anyway? Am I missing something here?

  2. The Wolf Advisory Committee last year recommended a more aggressive harvest to start bringing the population down towards the goal that is stated in the 1999 Wolf Management Plan, which is 350 animals,² Jane Wiedenhoeft, assistant large carnivore biologist at the DNR, said.

    As a large carnivore specialist she ought t be fired for agreeing to killing wolves like this with no regard for their family structure and sociality. I hate people like this that are afraid to stand up for what biology and scions tell us about wolves and that would agree to implementing wolf trapping, snaring and more “aggressive” wolf management.

    Louise Kane louise@kaneproductions.net 508-237-8326

    From: Exposing the Big Game Reply-To: Exposing the Big Game Date: Sunday, May 4, 2014 12:51 PM To: louise kane Subject: [New post] Wis. wolf population falls following hunting season

    WordPress.com Exposing the Big Game posted: ” http://badgerherald.com/news/2014/05/01/19-percent-wisconsin-wolf-population -hunted-last-year-dnr-attempts-curb-population-boom/#.U2ZoPGdOVy0 Amid continuing controversy about hunting Wisconsin¹s gray wolves, preliminary data shows Wisconsin¹s wolf”

  3. I’m not sure I believe that Wisc DNR moved the meeting behind closed doors because they don’t want bloodthirsty hunters to know the locations of surviving population. Here in Idaho the recommendation is for trappers to contact the local Fish & Game personnel to find out where recent wolf activity is taking place. This was what we (me & the can’t-wait-to-kill-something perverts in the state-conducted wolf trapping class) were told by the instructor. Idaho Fish & Game Department staff are oh-so-happy to help torture and kill.

  4. Wolves will regulate their own carrying capacity and balance the entire ecosystem of their family’s area. If just left alone, wolves will do what wolves have always done. There have never been too many wolves. There are far too many invasive species that do not belong here. Wolves pay with their lives so that humans can eat beef and lamb in copious amounts. Gravy stained politicians are all too happy to accept the best lies money can buy and disregard the best available science. It’s all just random spin just enough to confuse the masses enough to think all is well.

    Things are not ok, I’m old enough to see the second wolf genocide just in my lifetime. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to stop this is to get behind the people who will do the correct thing and if you can’t find somebody to run, do it youself. We are no longer just saving wolves, we are saving the planet and all creatures. That is the task at hand.

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