With a 5-2 vote, Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board has set their fall wolf hunt quota to 300 wolves, more than doubling the spring’s 119.
America’s grey wolf population remains a hot topic for Outsiders. In the time since the Trump Administration removed federal protection from the species, some states have taken to reinstating hunting seasons.
Wisconsin lies at the heart of it all. In less than 60 hours, 216 (or more) wolves were killed in the state’s spring hunt. The quota set by Wisconsin? 119. This led to the wolf hunt ending four days early, cites the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Some see the hunt as an all-out massacre; one with detrimental ecological consequences. Others, like those whose livelihood depends on livestock, feel it is necessary to help control a budding population of lethal predators. Whatever side of the fence a conservationist falls on, Wisconsin has decided to push forward with their wolf hunt rather than backpedal.
On Wednesday, August 11, the state authorized the harvesting of 300 wolves for their fall hunt. This comes as a stark doubling of the spring hunt’s quota of 119.
Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board’s 5-2 vote in favor goes against the recommendations of state biologists and wildlife officials. According to The New York Times, the state’s natural resources agency proposed a limit of 130 for the wolf hunt. But this will not be the case, and making the decision political instead of scientific is drawing ire from many across the nation.
Wisconsin Wolf Hunt Reaches 300 Quota for Fall after ‘Intense Public Debate’
According to the state, their board reached the 300 mark after hours of rigorous, intense public debate from dozens of Wisconsin citizens on both sides of the argument.
“We have a small population… Regardless of whether you want more wolves or fewer wolves, from a biological management standpoint, this population is small. That requires careful biological scientific population management,” Keith Warnke, the administrator of the department’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division tells the Times. “This calls for a conservative quota until we have more population data, more science, to back up our decision making.”
Warnke’s statement stands in contrast to Wisconsin hunters, who believe the population “swelled” amidst federal endangered species protection.
“Hunters have been responsible managers of this population,” say Luke Hilgemann, president and chief executive of Hunter Nation. “We think it will restore balance.”
Hilgemann’s group is responsible for the high-profile lawsuit against the state over the spring wolf hunt’s limitations. He also cites his allies as farmers and livestock tenders who feel a deep threat from rising wolf populations – making the hunt a necessity. Yet that spring venture stands as evidence against a “responsible” stewardship by the numbers above.
One member of Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board, however, spoke for the general citizens of the state. Or, more aptly, those without special interests on either side.
“The majority asked for zero,” says Marcy West of the state’s intense public outcry.
With the debate still hot, whether the quota stands until the fall hunt remains to be seen.