Humane Society Issues Statement Against Wisconsin Wolf Hunt
OnFocus – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal endangered species list on Jan. 4, 2021, returning management authority to the lower 48 states and tribes. On February 15, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that a wolf harvest season will take place Feb. 22-28, 2021. During the Natural Resources Board Special Meeting on Feb. 15, the board unanimously voted for a harvest quota of 200 wolves outside reservation lands.
On February 14, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) urged the Natural Resources Board (NRB) to reject the DNR quota of 200 wolves and set a quota of zero for the February 2021 wolf hunting and trapping season. The HSUS argued that the DNR’s decision was rushed, based on flawed scientific data, and conducted without considering the long-term health of both wolf packs and human interests. Additionally, an unstructured hunt will do little to prevent livestock killing and may actually increase issues.
“Allowing wolf trophy hunting and trapping at any level could have dire consequences, and experts (including former DNR staff) warn that allowing hunting at the excessive level contemplated by the state’s current Management Plan will prove indefensible and likely catastrophic,” the HSUS said in a statement. “Holding a season in February will only magnify these impacts.”
The statement also said that the “proposed quota is arbitrary and scientifically unsupported” and “based off its fatally outdated Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan.”
According to the DNR, the department’s approved quota considered “2020 wolf population data, population response to previous harvest seasons, scientific literature, and population model projections” and was “to allow for a sustainable harvest that neither increases nor decreases the state’s wolf population.”
The HSUS argued that the quota lacked “scientific support and public and tribal input.”
In her testimony, HSUS Wisconsin State Director Megan Nicholson addressed the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, urging them to reject the DNR’s proposed quota of 200 wolves and set a quota of zero.
“Opening an immediate trophy hunting season is scientifically unsupportable,” she said. “Allowing wolf trophy hunting and trapping at any level has dire consequences like destroying pack structure and leaving yearling pups to starve, and experts warn that allowing hunting at the excessive level outlined in the state’s current Management Plan is indefensible and could put wolves into significant jeopardy.”
LINK: HSUS Public Testimony
Nicholson added that holding a season in February will magnify harms to stable wolf packs and urged the board to take more time “to make informed and transparent decisions based on sound science, meaningful tribal consultation, and with the input of diverse stakeholders.”
“Before allowing any wolves to be killed, the Department needs adequate time for mandatory tribal consultation and to update its extremely outdated Wolf Management Plan and adopt new standards and goals that reflect today’s best available science, including social science,” she said. “We know that wolf hunting and the use of egregiously cruel methods like traps and hounds is truly unpopular and does not increase social tolerance for them.”
She added that “science shows that establishing a trophy wolf hunting season will not solve any of the purported issues that the DNR and NRB raise to justify such seasons.”
“For example, studies demonstrate that randomly killing wolves will not solve, but can exacerbate, their already rare conflicts with livestock. Now that wolves are delisted, the DNR already has the ability and duty to address these rare occurrences including with the use of effective and humane non-lethal methods,” she said.
The DNR also plans for a wolf harvest season to open on Nov. 6, 2021. Nicholson added that Wisconsin is the only state that mandates wolves be hunted upon federal delisting. Wisconsin is also the only state that allows packs of dogs when hunting wolves.
Those interested can submit comments to the Natural Board of Resources and attend NRB meetings. These meetings are held virtually and allow for non-agenda item public comment. Interested parties can also contact their state legislators to voice concern over Wisconsin’s law mandating a wolf hunt.
People can also email comments to Laurie Ross:
Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison
Office of the Secretary, Wisconsin DNR
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
Who are my Legislators?: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/
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