Updates from Wisconsin’s Wolf Harvest Advisory Committee Meeting

WI Green Fire, July 6, 2021

gray wolf

Wisconsin 2021 Wolf Harvest Advisory Committee held their second meeting on June 22nd to discuss Wisconsin’s planned fall wolf harvest season.  The primary charge to this committee is to provide the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) with input on the management objectives and harvest quota for the statutorily required fall wolf harvest.

Since wolf management remains a controversial, politically charged topic, it was no surprise that members of the Advisory Committee held strong and widely divergent views about a future hunt, and about what a suitable population goal for wolves should be.

Regrettably, the discussion centered more on strongly held opinions than scientific findings. In fact, what clearly emerged during the six-hour meeting was that the science currently available to WDNR is incomplete and uncertain.

Presentations from WDNR wildlife biologists continually demonstrated the “multiple layers of uncertainty” surrounding the status of Wisconsin’s wolf population and the effects of the February harvest on recruitment, breeding capability, and pack function as outlined in the Wisconsin’s Green Fire Conservation Bulletin: The February Wolf Hunt – A Preliminary Assessment

Department staff acknowledged that their preliminary wolf population estimate was generated based on the population prior to the February hunt due to insufficient post-harvest data. Thus, their estimate may fail to fully account for reduction in the wolf population and any subsequent reproductive losses following the February hunt.  WGF members serving on the committee, Adrian Wydeven, Jodi Habush Sinykin, Peter David, and Erik Olson, all made the case for a conservative quota – both considering this discrepancy AND in light of the WDNR’s stated commitment not to reduce Wisconsin’s wolf population below current levels until a new management plan is developed.

WGF supports a science-based, conservative approach to wolf quota decisions for the fall harvest season. It is imperative to keep the WDNR accountable in their decisions, while remaining science-based and respectful to cultural interests regarding Wisconsin’s wolves. The WDNR will engage in consultations with the Tribes in July and present a quota recommendation to the Natural Resources Board on August 12th.

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