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Wardens investigate illegal wolf killings

Wardens investigate illegal wolf killings

A serious problem is taking place in Wisconsin’s northern forests and wetlands.

At least 10 gray wolves – also know as timber wolves – have been illegally shot in the past 12 months, including three so far this year.

Matt Weber is the state Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for the northern half of Juneau County. He showed me today where a radio-collared alpha male wolf was shot during the nine-day gun deer season last November.

The wolf was shot in the stomach on a piece of private land bordering the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. It made it a short distance before a kill shot to the head finished it off. I tried to imagine what must haven been going through the poacher’s mind as he or she finished off the wolf.

I spotted a large gray wolf on opening day of the gun season last year not far from this location. We had a two-minute stare down from about 30-yards before going our separate ways. Could this have been the same wolf?

Brian Ezman is also a DNR conservation warden and covers the northern half of Adams County, a land made up of oak forest, a scattering of wetlands and farmland.

A grouse hunter came across the carcass of a large male wolf in the Colburn Wildlife Area Jan. 7. Today, Brian showed me where this wolf’s life was put to waste – an oak forest with several dry marshes. One of two wolves known to live in Adams County was shot in the hind leg, made it a short distance and was then finished off.

Since last March, this unnecessary loss of life was confirmed eight other times. It is anybody’s guess how many wolves were shot and not found.

The killers that shot these wolves would more than likely call themselves hunters. In some cases, the shooters more than likely thought they were shooting a coyote.

Hunters are taught in hunter safety class to know what they are aiming at before pulling the trigger. You should try telling the research crew that lost three of their eight radio-collared animals about your uncertain identification mistake.

Wisconsin’s gray wolves live a feast-or-famine way of life, generally living on the edge with a very empty stomach. The alpha male and the alpha female are the brains of the pack. When one is lost, the pack undergoes a major disruption.

I have heard every argument in the book from people who hate wolves. The one that never dies is that the DNR trapped wolves in another state and then released them here,

Nothing could be further from the truth. Wisconsin’s wolf packs came here on their own from Minnesota.

So no matter what you consider yourself – a hunter, wolf hater or an admirer of those that poach them – wolves need to be left alone. Until Wisconsin can sustain 250 wolves, the law governing their management (including euthanizing problem wolves) are controlled by the federal government.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls the shots until 250 wolves can be maintained. They do not allow the killing of problem wolves, only their relocation. Until this past fall, there were close to 250 wolves roaming our forests.

Could you use $4,000? If you have information regarding a wolf killing, that is the reward. Call (800) 847-9367 to make a report.

Think before you pull the trigger.

Outdoor columnist Mark Walters lives near Necedah.

Waupaca County Post, Outdoor Recreation, Page C16, March 14,2002