Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt is off to a stronger start than officials expected. And if the current pace continues, it could be over much earlier than the scheduled close of the season on February 28th.
In the first month, Kurt Thiede with the Department of Natural Resources says hunters have shot or trapped at least 73 wolves. The season has a quota of 116 animals, putting the harvest at about 63 percent of what is allowed for the state’s first modern wolf hunt.
The state authorized just 1,160 people to purchase a license for the season and only about 860 people have actually gone through with buying one so far. Thiede says it remains unclear whether the rest will be claimed before the season ends since some individuals may have held off until they are able to take to the field.
Those hunters may not want to wait too long though. All six of the zones set up by the DNR remain open, but three are close to reaching limits that would close them off to hunting.
Thiede says the zone with the greatest potential to run the full length of the season is the one covering most of southern and central Wisconsin, largely because of the low density of wolves in those parts of the state.
UPDATE: As of Thursday morning, the DNR had updated harvest totals to show 77 wolves have been taken by hunters.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:05)