Concerns about the size of Wisconsin’s wolf population have two state lawmakers calling for a summit on the issue. State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) say they hope to bring together a variety of experts, public officials and residents from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota for a Great Lakes Wolf Summit, where they will discuss some of the issues posed by the growing numbers of the animal in the region.
Concerns about the state’s wolf population have been on the rise for over a year, following a federal judge’s decision that returned the animal to the endangered species list. The ruling ended the ability of Wisconsin and other states to lead efforts to manage population numbers. It also halted wolf hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin and other states.
Tiffany says the wolf population has continued to grow though, which he blames for over a dozen attacks on livestock since the beginning of this year. The Hazelhurst Republican hopes the summit will help bring attention to the issue at the federal level, and encourage Congress to act on legislation that would de-list the gray wolf once again. “It’s time to reverse course here, and we think we need to do that by starting at the grass roots level,” he says.
The population goal for Wisconsin is 350 wolves, while Tiffany says some estimates put the current number of animals in the state at closer to a thousand.
The state is allowed some limited management of the wolf population under federal law. It can use fencing and other deterrents to respond when wolves are attacking livestock. However, the agency can only take lethal action in specific situations where there is a threat to health and human safety.
A date and location for the summit have not yet been set, although Tiffany says it will likely be in northern Wisconsin were issues with wolves are more prevalent.