By Mike Joyce
Bruce (WQOW)- Starting Friday, farmers can apply to take aim at Wisconsin wolves. For the past four decades, wolves have been on the endangered species list in the state. But wildlife officials recently decided to remove that protection because wolf numbers are up significantly. That’s a huge problem for farmers because they attack and kill their cattle.
Eric Koens has been raising cattle for more than 30 years. He says removing wolves from the endangered species list in Wisconsin is a step in the right direction.
“The thing that people don’t understand is that wolves not only kill our animals, but they chase them around in the pasture, harass them, put tremendous stress on our animals and run them out through the fences,” says Koens. “There’s a whole host of damage that wolves do besides killing livestock.”
“We consider the restoration of the wolves as one of the great conservation success stories. We went from basically zero wolves not too long ago to a population of probably around 800 wolves now,” says Kris Belling with the DNR. “It’s been so successful that now the wolves are expanding out beyond what would typically be considered wolf range and they are getting into some of these agricultural areas next to the big woods.”
The DNR says there were 125 wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin last year. Wolves will officially be de-listed on Friday. Not only are wolves a safety threat; they pose a financial threat as well.
“Our animals could be worth $2,000 to $3,000 and I believe the maximum the DNR is paying out on a 6-month old calf is I believe like $700. So we would be losing a considerable amount of income,” Koens says.
“We need to recognize that when certain wolves become problems that the landowners do need to have a mechanism to relieve that problem,” says Belling.
“They are not the furry, cuddly animals some people think they are,” Koens says. “People maybe don’t want to hear it, but basically wolves eat our animals alive.”
The DNR has just mailed about 100 letters to Wisconsin landowners, telling them they can now apply for a permit to shoot wolves. Koens intends to do just that.