The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the gray wolf would be removed from the endangered species list by the end of 2020 and Wisconsin is wasting no time in introducing a management plan that includes hunting.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources posted a press release. They plan on starting a wolf hunting season that would open on 6 November 2021.
They also announced that they would form a Wolf Management Plan Committee that would consist of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribal interests, and conservation perspectives representing diverse interests. That would presumably have a voice in wolf management issues.
Here is the exact wording of their announcement.
The DNR today announced the official wolf season will begin Nov. 6, 2021.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will delist gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species on Jan. 4, 2021, returning management authority to the lower 48 states and tribes.
Under Wisconsin law, when the wolf is delisted, the state’s annual hunting and trapping seasons shall resume.
The recovery of gray wolves is a triumph of the Endangered Species Act and stands as a testament to the cooperation of federal, state, and tribal agencies, as well as other conservation partners working together to support wolf recovery. The most recent monitoring effort indicated a minimum of 1,034 wolves in Wisconsin, primarily across the northern third of the state and the Central Forest region.
The DNR has successfully managed gray wolves for decades and will continue to follow the science and laws that influence our management. All wolf management, including hunting and trapping, will be conducted in a transparent and deliberative process, in which public and tribal participation is encouraged.
Once wolves are removed from the federal list of endangered species, the DNR will work collaboratively and transparently to create a new wolf management plan to reflect our increased understanding of the biological and social issues relevant to wolf management. The new plan will ensure sustainable management of Wisconsin wolves for the future.
In addition, the DNR will also create a new Wolf Management Plan Committee, a group comprised of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribal interests, and conservation perspectives representing diverse interests. The existing wolf management plan, originally approved in 1999, was reviewed and updated in 2007 and helped guide recovery efforts in the state.
Following delisting – and until the official season goes into effect – it remains unlawful to shoot a wolf unless there is an immediate threat to human safety. However, if on private land, you can shoot and kill wolves that are in the act of killing, wounding, or biting a domestic animal.
Although gray wolf management will be under state authority in early 2021, implementing a wolf season requires adequate time not only to develop a science-based harvest quota but also to engage the public and tribal partners in the development of a season plan that adequately reflects the interests of diverse stakeholders throughout Wisconsin. As such, the DNR is focused on planning a wolf season that begins Nov. 6, 2021.https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/newsroom/release/39871
They also announced the plan to implement an integrated wolf conflict abatement program that would deal with problem wolves.
This is a huge step forward in wildlife conservation. States have done an amazing job of managing wildlife and they will do a wonderful job managing wolves to ensure they will be on the land scape for generations to come.
This announcement will not come without push back. Animal rights groups have already vowed to challenge the federal delisting in court and more than likely they will challenge the state management program in court.
I understand why the management of predators is controversial. I discuss this topic as well as others in my book, Why We Hunt: The Five Motivations of the Modern Hunter. I talk about why predator management is necessary and that hunters seek to maintain a balance between populations of predator and prey that works for all involved including consumptive users of the environment.
If the season goes forward it will join a few other western states that already manage their wolf populations with hunting and trapping. They have show that wolves continue to thrive even with hunting and trapping seasons in place.