(Photo: Wisconsin DNR/Gary Kramer)

(Photo: Wisconsin DNR/Gary Kramer)

While Wisconsin’s wolf hunting season remains on hold, lawmakers are looking to change when hunters and trappers could target them again if it’s ever restored.

Under current law, the state’s wolf hunting season starts in mid-October. State Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) argues that timing has led to some conflicts with bird hunters, whose dogs are at risk from the traps. It also limits the quality of wolf pelts, since many hunters are forced to act early in the season if they want a chance at a wolf, before the animals’ thicker winter coat can fully grow in.

During a legislative hearing this week, the Forest Junction Republican said “in mid-October the wolf pelt is not prime…but the risk of zone closure forces trappers to harvest animals before the pelts have reached their prime.”

Ott’s bill would push the season start date back to the first Saturday in November, in the event Congress ever acts to reverse a 2014 federal court decision that returned the gray wolf to the endangered species list. The ruling effectively halted further wolf hunting in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s limited gray wolf season ran for three years, and closed early in those years because hunters and trappers hit the harvest quotas for each region of the state. Some zones even closed within days of opening, after caps were hit in those areas.

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