September 23, 2014

Assessing the wolf hunt

Wisconsin’s first wolf hunting season ended more than two months early, after hunters reached the 116 wolf harvest cap last the weekend. The hunt, which began October 15th, and was scheduled to run through February. Adrian Wydeven, a mammalian ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources and a wolf expert, said he thought hunting wolves would be more of a challenge, but the hunters and trappers did their homework on how to scout and track the animals. “I guess we had higher rates than some people had expected, that they were finding wolves more readily thought would be the case,” he said. “Hunters and trappers seem to be learning how to hunt and trap wolves.”

Wydeven said between now and next season, DNR staffers will look at ways to improve the wolf hunting season. That includes coming up with rules that would allow the use of dogs A judge banned hunting dogs this year, because of a lack of regulations. “The proposal the department is making is from the end of December, through the wolf hunting and trapping season, and then through the end of March,” he said. “People could potentially use hounds, if the courts allow the DNR to allow the use of hounds, and if the public supports that.”

The DNR is collecting tissue and teeth samples from wolves that were killed during this year’s season, in order to learn more about the state’s wolves. “We’ll do DNA assessment, which we’ll use in future population assessments,” Wydeven said. In addition, the agency will be sending surveys to hunters and trappers who participated in the inaugural season.

Rick Schuh, WHBY