Wisconsin held its first wolf season in years after a judge ordered the Department of Natural Resourses to hold the hunt in accordance with state law and it was highly successful, to say the least. Hunters and trappers not only reached the quota 119 but blew past in less than 72 hours with a harvest of 178 wolves.
According to the Star Tribune, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources closed wolf season at 3 pm on Wednesday after hunters and trappers met the quota of 119 wolves on Tuesday. State law requires 24-hour notice before closing a season, so hunters actually bagged 59 more wolves than the initial quota.
DNR officials were not phased by the news that hunters went over the quota, partly because many felt the quota was too low in the first place. The initial quota was set at 200 wolves, but 81 of that quota was set aside for indigenous tribes because of previously signed treaties.
Wisconsin’s state population goal for wolves sits at 350. Conservative estimates of wolf populations in Wisconsin sit around 1000 wolves, so the over harvest is not a concern. Previous wolve hunts in 2012, 2013, and 2014 also went over so it is nothing new.
Animal Rights groups were not happy with the hunt and voiced their displeasure.
“Traps are set like landmines for unsuspecting animals and the hunters are deep into the woods and out of the range of communication, and they can easily claim they didn’t get the ‘stop the hunt’ notice before they killed their wolf,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of animal rights group Animal Wellness Action.
Of course, these detractors dismiss the need for management even of “keystone species.” Hunting will reduce human-animal conflict and allow for a healthy sustainable population.
In my book, Why We Hunt: The Five Motivations of the Modern Hunter, I explain why the hunting of predators is necessary for a healthy ecosystem and why it is important to the human food chain. If you want to know more the book is available on Amazon.
DNR officials still plan on holding another wolf season in November and will use the population goal of 350 as a benchmark when setting next year’s quota. New population estimates are due out in April and once those numbers are known quotas will be set.
Congratulations to all the successful hunters and congratulations to the people of Wisconsin for recovering an endangered species to the point that there can be sustainable regulated hunting once again.