Last chance for public input on wolf hunt at Natural Resources Board meeting in July
Post by Christie Taylor on 6/27/2012 3:20pm
The Department of Natural Resources is offering citizens one last chance to chime in on its proposed plan following the state Legislature’s passage of a controversial bill to allow hunting of wolves in Wisconsin.
The Natural Resources Board will meet on July 17 to discuss and approve the proposal (draft as of June 4 can be found here), and state residents can register to testify before the board. Some aspects--such as the season length, license fees, and approved hunting methods--have already been determined by the Legislature, but quotas, permit levels, and other aspects are still open to debate.
The DNR proposes two primary areas for the hunt, in central and far northern Wisconsin, as well as a broader secondary zone that adds additional hunting grounds in the north (See map, and proposed hunting quota for each zone). The season would run from October 15 to the end of February, with a proposed total take of 143-233 wolves.
In a statement released earlier in the month DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp called the initial harvest "conservative," and likely to increase in later years. The current plan is being created as a emergency rule that Stepp says will be temporary, to allow a hunt to begin this fall. In the next couple years a more permanent framework will be developed, she said.
The state’s wolf population has recovered from virtual nonexistence in the state in 1960 to more than 780 in the winter of 2011 and an estimated 880 in 213 packs as of this spring, more than double the state’s original goal of restoring the population to 350 wolves. In January, they were removed from the state’s protected species list, which had previously prevented management strategies to include hunting, and Republican lawmakers moved for a hunt to reduce instances of wolves preying on livestock.
Act 169, the bill directing the DNR to create the hunt, was a controversial one when it passed in April, with advocates and scientists saying that the season is too long, covers too broad an area of the state--but not those where predation on livestock was a problem--and uses untested methods such as night hunting and the use of dogs. In addition, farmers already had options to shoot wolves that were posing a danger. And if the wolf population dips back below about 250 individuals, they risk being relisted as endangered, as one UW-Madison scientist predicted in a letter to the Natural Resources Board.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources is also implementing a wolf hunt this year, though the numbers are slightly different and the season is much shorter: There, the wolf population is estimated at over 3,000 and has been stable for more than 10 years. The management strategy aims to reduce them to a stable winter population of 1,600.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will meet to discuss and approve the management plan at 9 a.m. on July 17 in the Spruce/Sands room of the Stevens Point Holiday Inn Convention Center. Members of the public wishing to testify--or submit written comments to the board--should contact Laurie Ross at (608) 267-7420 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 12.
Wolf portrait used in accordance with creative commons licensing courtesy of Flickr user Tambako The Jaguar.
Christie Taylor (@ctaylsaurus) covers science, environment, and, depending on the season, state politics for dane101. She verbs a lot of nouns, including rollerskates, radio, and Kurt Vonnegut. A Madison native, she's not sure she'll ever quite manage to leave Wisconsin, and that's just fine by her. Contact her at email@example.com.