Wisconsin Ag Connection
Within hours of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list, Governor Scott Walker has ordered the Department of Natural Resources to begin implementing Wisconsin’s Wolf Management plan. According to State DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, congressional leaders from Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota were instrumental in making the change possible.
“I want to acknowledge the citizens of Wisconsin for their patience as we worked on the delisting,” said Stepp. “They were persistent in bringing their concerns to my attention. It is because of that persistence that we were able to achieve the delisting.”
However, the announcement is only the first step in the process. Stepp says once wolves are delisted, the DNR will be able to do depredation controls, via trapping and permits to landowners in depredation areas.
Walker says Wisconsin has exceeded its delisting goal eight times over and must have flexibility to manage wolf problems. His executive order states that Wisconsin’s management plan should go into effect on February 1.
“Wisconsin has approximately 800 wolves, the most wolves ever counted in the state,” Gov. Walker noted. “This far exceeds both the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan goal of 350 and the federal recovery goal of 100 wolves for Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Under the DNR’s Wolf Management Plan, the state will be able to address problem wolves that are causing depredations on farms and attacking pets near residential areas. Once the delisting takes effect the DNR will begin issuing permits to landowners to control wolves on their property where there have been documented cases of depredation or harassment by wolves. This will also allow permitted landowners or their designees to shoot wolves on their property if needed to protect domestic animals.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time in recent memory that the federal government has given Wisconsin permission to control its own wolf population. Earlier this year, it appeared that the agency was ready to delist the wolf. But animal rights groups fought the proposal saying there are now two different species of wolves that have to be considered. In 2008, the animal’s protections were lifted under the Bush administration. That decision was also overturned in federal court by similar groups that fought to keep the wolves in protected status.
The DNR says 10 dogs have been killed this past summer by wolves and farmers have suffered intolerable livestock depredation from wolves. Last year alone, 47 farms lost at least 75 livestock animals and saw injuries to six more.