Written by Shawn Clark
Over the last couple of years, I’ve written about wolves several times. I have my views on it, and people who read this column have their views on it.
The federal government has now delisted the wolf from the endangered species list, thus opening the door for states to take over the management of them. Landowners in the north who have suffered loss due to wolf predation on livetock or pets can now legally kill a wolf that is trying to kill cattle, dogs, cats or threatening bodily harm to themselves or family.
If someone kills one, the DNR simply wants to be informed, and the shooter should not fear prosecution.
And according to Wisconsin Outdoor News, a wolf season for the general public is being proposed, but nothing is set in stone yet. The following is from Wisconsin Outdoor News.
Gallery: We’re collecting your wolf photos.
A bill introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature on Jan. 27 would create a 4½-month wolf hunting and trapping season that would allow the use of all firearms and bows, foot-hold traps and cable restraints, and trailing hounds.
Resident wolf tags would cost $99.25, and nonresident tags would cost $499.25. The proposed season would open Oct. 15 and continue through the end of February.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board would have to pass an emergency rule in order for the season to take place. The NRB would have to act on DNR suggestions for wolf harvest goals and tag numbers, according to Kurt Thiede, DNR Division of Lands administrator.
The Wisconsin DNR does not attempt to develop a wolf population estimate. Instead, the agency comes up with a “minimum count” each winter based on track surveys conducted by DNR personnel and volunteers. The most recent “minimum count” was about 850 wolves in April 2011. DNR officials now generally acknowledge the state has more than 1,000 wolves.
The state’s wolf plan calls for a management goal of 350 wolves. Federal delisting requirements called for 100 wolves between the two states of Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin DNR personnel have not yet decided how they will set a wolf quota and then determine carcass tag numbers.
Quotas would be set in each of the state’s four wolf zones, and the season would run until the quota for a zone is reached. Tags would be issued by zone. Registration is required.
On Jan. 27, the bill would have allowed landowners and family members to hunt or trap wolves for free during February in any of the four wolf zones that still had an open quota. That provision apparently was removed before the Feb. 1 hearing, based on comments from legislators that day.
Use of trailing hounds and the hunting of wolves at night would be allowed starting the Monday after the nine-day deer season.
Money collected from license fees would be used to pay citizens for livestock and pet losses. Farmers are keeping a close eye on that provision, because they are concerned that if license fees are the only revenue source for the damage fund, the state won’t have enough money to fully reimburse farmers for livestock losses.
Even if AB 502 makes it through public hearings, is approved by the Assembly and Senate, and is signed by Walker, the season could be waylaid if wolf protectionist groups successfully file a lawsuit blocking delisting of the Great Lakes wolf population.
According to Georgia Parham, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a lawsuit challenging the USFWS’s Jan. 27 wolf delisting can be filed at any time. The petitioner would simply have to give the USFWS and federal court notice of intent to sue, and then file a challenge within two months of that notice.
Sportsmen can view the entire bill at legis.wisconsin.gov. Type “502” in the box listed as “Proposal Number,” then click on “bill text.” Sportsmen will have to read between the lines a little, but the bill language does a good job of outlining what would be allowed at this point, short of public input that might change the bill’s wording.
Fritsch said the WWF will be supporting the bill throughout the legislative process.
So like it or not, there are some things in the works to get the wolf situation under control. A wolf hunt is another opportunity for hunters in Wisconsin, it will be a good thing to help the deer herd, make money for the state and help property owners who have lost livestock to wolf predation.
You can also likely expect animal rights groups to file challenges in court to stop the wolf hunt, and believe it or not, even some hunters would support that.
Wolves are predators, and have had a serious impact in our state already as far as the deer herd is concerned. They need to be controlled. So if you are any kind of animal lover, support a wolf hunt. Bring down their numbers to a manageable level, to help not only the deer herd, but the farmers and people in the north. The state of Wisconsin will clearly benefit from this.