February 8, 2016

Wolf population goals could be revised

wolf01The state’s target goal for the numbers of wolves that will be allowed to live in Wisconsin may be subject to revision. The 2013 Wisconsin wolf count, conducted in the wake of the state’s first modern hunting and trapping season, indicates there are a minimum of 809 to 834 wolves in the state. The current goal is for there to be 350 off-reservation wolves in the state.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:70)

“We’re currently using that as the guide for wolf management, so the department is applying management actions in order to begin putting downward pressure on the wolf population,” said David McFarland, a carnivore specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources. “That said, we want to do that in a responsible manner.”

The DNR wolf management plan will be subject to a rewrite, and the population goal could be reconsidered. “Alteration of the goals is certainly a possibility, as is anything else that’s included in the management plan,” said McFarland. “We’re basically going to be opening it up and looking at what should be adjusted, and the population goal will be part of that discussion.”

The agency is scheduled to have a draft of the new management plan ready for the Natural Resources Board to consider by June of next year. McFarland said the DNR took a conservative approach to the state’s first ever wolf hunting and trapping season, which resulted in 117 dead wolves. Planning also continues for the next wolf hunting and trapping season. “We’re continuing to take a conservative approach,” said McFarland. “Decisions haven’t been made for the 2013 season yet. Those will be made in the next couple of months.”

The Wolf Advisory Committee, representing agency, non-agency, hunting and non-hunting interests, will meet May 23 to develop 2013 wolf quota recommendations. DNR leadership will consider their recommendations before developing final Department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval at its June meeting.

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