Most Wisconsinites support a wolf hunt in the state, but only a minority of people want to see the wolf population decrease from its current level. That’s according to some of the draft findings of a recent state Department of Natural Resources survey of how people feel about wolves.
The DNR mailed out surveys to almost 9,000 state residents, about half of which were returned and analyzed. DNR Carnivore Specialist Dave MacFarland says the goal was to answer critical questions about citizens’ attitudes towards wolves. “We wanted to determine what their tolerance was of wolves – were they favorable or unfavorable? And then also, critically, we asked questions about what they would like us to, with one of the primary questions being adjustments in the population size.”
Results tended to vary according to where people lived in relation to wolves. Within the area of the state considered to be wolf-range, 62 percent of respondents supported a state regulated hunting and trapping season. Outside of the wolf-range area, only 51 percent of residents did.
But favoring some kind of state-managed wolf hunt didn’t necessarily go along with support of the DNR’s current wolf plan, which calls for gradually reducing the wolf population from recent winter estimates of 660, down to 350. Outside of wolf-range, more than half of respondents said they want to see more wolves or maintain current population levels. Within wolf range that percentage was about 45 percent, and many said they didn’t know.
MacFarland says the DNR is working on a new wolf management plan, and the survey results do make a difference. “We manage the wildlife of the state for the citizens of the state, and information like this is critical. That said it’s not the only piece of information that’ll be used. It’ll be incorporated with all the biological information that we have.”
MacFarland says there will be more chances for public input later this year, when a draft of the new plan is put forward.