Over 100 people spoke at an online public listening session on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s wolf management plan on Tuesday night.
Lac Courte Oreilles tribal member Melissa Lewis said they are happy to see more areas made off-limits to hunting in the plan. “LCO supports the goal of ensuring a sustainable wolf population to achieve its ecological role on our landscape,” Lewis said.
But Crystal Huffman, a farmer from Shawano County, said she’s seen wolves on trail cams near her home and doesn’t want to see expansions of the no-hunting zones. “I oppose the creation of the buffer zones surrounding reservations. This takes away rights of private landowners. I also oppose the giving away wildlife management authority in these areas as well.”
Mike Brust of Wausau was upset that the session was online at all, rather than having in-person sessions. “The DNR wants to listen to a vegetarian sitting on her couch in California as much as a farmer in northern Wisconsin literally trying to save his farm.”
A number of tribal leaders spoke in favor of the changes, including the Menominee Tribe land management director Douglas Cox. “We’ll continue to protect it within our boundaries. Our tribal laws currently do not allow harvest of this animal and I don’t see us changing that.”
The DNR plans to expand buffer zones around tribal reservations that already do not allow the hunting of wolves, and move to an adaptive harvest goal rather than hard harvest quotas, the way the state currently handles deer and bear hunting.
The proposed plan would also get rid of hard numbers on a wolf quota and move to an adaptive management plan like those used for the deer and bear populations, and also adjusts wolf hunting boundaries to reflect where the wolves are currently living.