Collared Wolf in Wisconsin
Below is a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announcing the Wolf population in our state has declined by 19 percent. Without a doubt the anti-hunter’s and wolf loving environmentalist are going to use this news to play on the emotions of people who are not informed about wolves in Wisconsin. They will say wolves in Wisconsin are in danger of being wiped out because of the irresponsible DNR and all the gun toting redneck hunters who hate wolves.
The doom and gloom the anti’s will portray will be based on emotions while ignoring facts and science. The fact is the wolf population in Wisconsin is strong, healthy, and not in danger of being wiped out by the reasonable quotas set by the WI DNR. The fact is the reduction of the wolf population was intentional. Let us not forget the original wolf management plan called for 350 wolves, not a population hovering around 1,000. As the wolf population continued to increase so did conflicts with humans and depredations on pets and livestock.
The fact is many hunters if not most hunters respect wolves and are willing to except a reasonable population of wolves provided they are under state management and there population is kept to reasonable number. There are hunters who have bought into the myth wolves are the reason for declining deer numbers in the northern part of the state. I don’t have the room here to go into detail but that is just not the case. Wolves may be a small piece of the puzzle for low deer numbers in the north, but the main reason for a struggling deer herd in the northern forest is a habitat issue. It’s a complex issue with many factors; in it’s simplest form the northern woods in Wisconsin have large areas of mature forest (which is poor deer habitat for several reasons) while having minimal areas of early successional forest.
One of the issues, which has yet to be determined is what is a reasonable population goal. Peoples views range from no wolves to having no set number on their population while prohibiting any type of management that would slow the population growth. In my opinion as a hunter and conservationist both views are wrong. I support a management plan based on science, allowing a healthy population of wolves without allowing their population to increase to the level where it exceeds the biological carrying capacity of the habitat.
At this juncture I do not have a set number of wolves in my mind, however I view the population reduction in the last year as a good thing. I look forward to the future wolf hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin. In order to ensure the future of such seasons it is imperative hunters educate themselves on the issues so we can help counter the misinformation regarding wolves and wolf management.
MADISON – The preliminary 2014 Wisconsin late-winter wolf count indicates there are a minimum of 658 to 687 wolves distributed across the state, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. The preliminary numbers equate to a 19 percent decline in the late winter population compared to last year, as predicted by scientific models considered by the Wolf Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Board prior to establishing 2013 quotas.
“The population is within the range predicted by University of Wisconsin population models used in the quota development process” said David MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist. “The increased 2013 quota resulted in a reduction in the wolf population toward the goals established in the state wolf management plan. We are collecting important data on which to base future management decisions and will continue to learn with each season.”
The count is conducted at a time when the wolf population is at its lowest point in the annual cycle. The population nearly doubles when pups are born in spring, resulting in a higher population in October when the hunting and trapping season begins.
This year’s count compares to the 2013 count of a minimum of 809 to 834 wolves, which was similar to the late winter population count prior to the state’s inaugural 2012 wolf hunt. Wolf counts have been conducted by DNR and cooperators in Wisconsin since winter 1979-1980 when 25 wolves were counted in the state.
“Wisconsin’s monitoring protocols are considered the most reliable method for monitoring wolf populations.” said MacFarland. “They include a combination of radio-telemetry, pilot observations, and winter track counts conducted by staff and trained volunteers across the state’s wolf range.”
While the number of wolves is down from the 2013 count, the population is still nearly double the current goal of 350 wolves, and over six times the federal delisting goal of 100 wolves for Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The DNR is currently reviewing and revising its wolf management plan.
On April 29, the Wolf Advisory Committee will meet for a preliminary discussion of population data and 2014 wolf quotas. The committee will meet again in May to finalize wolf quota recommendations. Department leadership will consider their recommendations before developing final department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval at its June meeting.
The state’s wolf management objectives are to ensure a sustainable wolf population; quickly and effectively address conflicts; begin to reduce the wolf population toward the established population goal; and learn for future wolf management adaptation.