A state lawmaker worries current restrictions on controlling Wisconsin’s gray wolf population are potentially dangerous.
A 2014 federal court decision put wolves in western Great Lakes states back on the endangered species list, ending hunting seasons for the animal and restricting how the states manage those populations. State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) argues that lack of control is dangerous. “To not allow the state of Wisconsin to be able to manage our wolf population is causing real problems,” he said, during a recent hearing on a bill affecting the state’s currently blocked wolf hunting season. “It’s getting to be a real crisis in some areas.”
Property owners in areas of the state where wolves are prevalent have long been at odds with the animals, which have attacked livestock and pets in the past. Tiffany said there are concerns about public safety as the animals approach homes, attack livestock, and harass hunters. “This is going to be a serious problem, and people are going to get hurt at some point,” he warned.
The state is allowed some limited management of the wolf population under federal law. DNR carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland says they can use fencing and other deterrents to respond when wolves are attacking livestock. However, under federal law, the agency can only take lethal action in specific situations where there is a “demonstrable but non-immediate threat to health and human safety.”
Wisconsin’s last population count in 2015 put the number of wolves in the state at between 746-771 animals. An updated survey is due to be completed later this spring.
Members of the state’s Congressional delegation have been working to get the gray wolf delisted again, which would allow hunting seasons in the Midwest to resume.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include additional information about wolf population management in Wisconsin.