Wisconsin's population of gray wolves remains largely unchanged after the winter.
A census conducted by the DNR estimates there were between 537 and 564 gray wolves in the state this winter. Biologist Adrian Wydeven says that's actually down slightly from the previous year's estimates. He believes factors such as lower than normal pup survival and cases of a new type of mange may have held down the population slightly.
Wydeven says habitat concerns may also be working to slow down growth, as wolves have started to fill up heavily wooded areas and are moving towards more populated regions of the state. He says that could increase the risk of farmers shooting the animals if they attack livestock or pets.
However, the lifting of federal protections for gray wolves last year is not believed to be a factor in the steadier population numbers. Wydeven says the DNR only knows of four wolves that were killed while attacking farm animals. Farmers did apply for 25 state permits to shoot the animals, but not were shot using them.
Wydeven expects the wolf population to continue growing in the coming years, but believes it will slow down compared to recent years.