DNR Press Release
MADISON – At least seven wolves appear to have been illegally killed during the recently completed Nov. 19-27 gun deer hunt, according to state wildlife officials. The shootings are being investigated.
“It is unfortunate that some individuals have chosen to illegally kill these wolves. We understand that there is frustration with the slow response of the federal government that would allow us to actively manage our wolf population, but it is an illegal act and a federal offense,” said Kurt Thiede, land division administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources. “What we need is federal authority to legally deal with problem animals and to provide relief to farmers experiencing wolf depredations on livestock.”
Wisconsin has a wolf management plan and is ready to take on management of its wolf population, estimated at a minimum of 782 animals last winter. Gray wolves had once disappeared from Wisconsin, but gradually moved back into the state from Minnesota and Michigan and re-populated former wolf territory under protections of the federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
Wisconsin officials have called for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the wolf in Wisconsin, considering it has far exceeded its established delisting goal of 100 animals, as well as the state management goal of 350 wolves.
“Wolves are a part of our natural landscape and like all species we manage, we need to take into account ecological as well as social factors,” added Thiede. “That is the basis for how we established our management plan and our management goal.”
In addition to the department’s call for removing federal wolf protections, Wisconsin’s congressional delegation has also indicated support for delisting wolves in Wisconsin in a letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the federal Endangered Species Act. The wolf was removed from Wisconsin’s threatened and endangered list in 2004
“Wolf depredations on livestock and hunting dogs have continued to increase as the wolf population expands. It is disappointing to see a species that has recovered, become devalued and viewed as a species that can be indiscriminately killed because it has exceeded some people’s level of tolerance for wolves. This administration has done all we can to make the strong case for delisting, and we hope it will occur early next year,” said Thiede. “DNR fully and adamantly supports delisting wolves in Wisconsin and returning management of the species to the state so that we can take steps to manage wolf populations and provide relief to farmers and pet owners through focused lethal control of problem animals.”
The seven known kills are the third highest number of kills taking place during the gun deer hunt on record. Four of the dead wolves were actively being monitored with radio collars, and three others were not collared but were found dead in the field and reported by deer hunters. A total of 49 wolves were being monitored by radio-tracking by the DNR at the start of the gun deer season. One additional radio-collared wolf died from other causes, and three other radio-collared wolves went missing during the same time.
Nine wolves were killed during the 2006 hunt and eight for the same period in 2009; a total of 31 wolves have been illegally killed during November deer hunts between 2006 and 2011. Illegal kills also take place in summer months with 29 illegal kills between 2006 and 2011.