At least seven wolves appear to have been illegally killed during the
recently completed Nov. 19-27 gun deer hunt, according to state wildlife
MADISON – At least seven wolves appear to have been illegally killed
during the recently completed Nov. 19-27 gun deer hunt, according to
state wildlife officials. The shootings are being investigated.
“It is unfortunate that some individuals have chosen to illegally
kill these wolves. We understand that there is frustration with the slow
response of the federal government that would allow us to actively
manage our wolf population, but it is an illegal act and a federal
offense,” said Kurt Thiede, land division administrator for the state
Department of Natural Resources. “What we need is federal authority to
legally deal with problem animals and to provide relief to farmers
experiencing wolf depredations on livestock.”
Wisconsin has a wolf management plan and is ready to take on
management of its wolf population, estimated at a minimum of 782 animals
last winter. Gray wolves had once disappeared from Wisconsin, but
gradually moved back into the state from Minnesota and Michigan and
re-populated former wolf territory under protections of the federal and
state Endangered Species Acts.
Wisconsin officials have called for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to delist the wolf in Wisconsin, considering it has far exceeded
its established delisting goal of 100 animals, as well as the state
management goal of 350 wolves.
“Wolves are a part of our natural landscape and like all species we
manage, we need to take into account ecological as well as social
factors,” added Thiede. “That is the basis for how we established our
management plan and our management goal.”
In addition to the department’s call for removing federal wolf
protections, Wisconsin’s congressional delegation has also indicated
support for delisting wolves in Wisconsin in a letter to the director of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the federal
Endangered Species Act.
The wolf was removed from Wisconsin’s threatened and endangered list
“Wolf depredations on livestock and hunting dogs have continued to
increase as the wolf population expands. It is disappointing to see a
species that has recovered, become devalued and viewed as a species that
can be indiscriminately killed because it has exceeded some people’s
level of tolerance for wolves. This administration has done all we can
to make the strong case for delisting, and we hope it will occur early
next year,” said Thiede. “DNR fully and adamantly supports delisting
wolves in Wisconsin and returning management of the species to the state
so that we can take steps to manage wolf populations and provide relief
to farmers and pet owners through focused lethal control of problem
The seven known kills are the third highest number of kills taking
place during the gun deer hunt on record. Four of the dead wolves were
actively being monitored with radio collars, and three others were not
collared but were found dead in the field and reported by deer hunters.
A total of 49 wolves were being monitored by radio-tracking by the DNR
at the start of the gun deer season. One additional radio-collared wolf
died from other causes, and three other radio-collared wolves went
missing during the same time.
Nine wolves were killed during the 2006 hunt and eight for the same
period in 2009; a total of 31 wolves have been illegally killed during
November deer hunts between 2006 and 2011. Illegal kills also take place
in summer months with 29 illegal kills between 2006 and 2011.
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