Wisconsin’s high-profile wolf hunt began Monday and was to continue through Sunday, but will end Wednesday at 3 p.m. as over 150 wolves are taken in less than 72 hours.
State DNR officials are closing down Wisconsin’s already unusual February wolf hunt prematurely. The headline-making season would continue throughout the rest of the month into Sunday the 28th, had it not been for hunter’s lethal accuracy with the species.
In less than three days, Wisconsin wolf hunters and trappers have blown past the state’s target of 119 wolves for the season. The Department of Natural Resources cites that, by midday Wednesday (Feb. 24), a staggering 162 wolves have been harvested. This is 43 more than needed for the season’s entire run, the Associated Press reports.
This is not to say that further wolf hunts will not take place in Wisconsin. DNR estimates place the state’s population at about 1,000 wolves before the February hunt. Their eventual target population is 350.
“The wolf season has been one of the most contentious outdoors issues that Wisconsin has grappled with in the last 20 years,” local Star Tribune reports. “Animal rights advocates have argued that wolf populations are too small to support hunting and that the animals are too majestic to kill. Farmers and rural residents, though, say wolves are killing their livestock and pets,” the trade continues.
Wisconsin Wolf Hunt is Strikingly Unique
In many ways, Wisconsin set up their wolf hunters and trappers for this ease of success. One major advantage over the hunting of other species is the state’s law allowing for wolf hunters and trappers to operate at night. In addition, wolf hunters are able to use dogs to corner the fellow canines. All of which are illegal with deer hunting in the state.
State animal rights groups, such as Animal Wellness Action, claim that the wolves never stood a chance in such circumstances.
“Traps are like landmines for unsuspecting animals and the hunters are deep into the woods and out of the range of communication… They can easily claim they didn’t get the ‘stop the hunt’ notice before they killed their wolf,” says Wayne Pacelle, president of AWA in a Wednesday statement.
Moreover, carnivore conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity, Collette Adkins, calls the Wisconsin hunt “a reckless slaughter” in her statement on behalf of the Arizona-based nonprofit that aims to protect endangered species.
The Wolf Debate Continues
As hunters the nation over know, however, the U.S. grey wolves are no longer listed as an endangered species. The previous Trump Administration removed all federal protection of the species in January. This gave all control over management back to the individual state governments. In Wisconsin’s case, this led directly to their overly successful February wolf hunt. This is not unusual for the state, however. Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold annual hunts between Nov. and Feb.
DNR was amidst preparations for their November 2021 hunt when state Republicans began demanding the season begin before February’s end. The lawmakers concern over the Biden Administration re-listing wolves into federal protection before November was paramount.
As of February 24, the DNR still plans to hold the November wolf hunt. This will, they hope, quell the Wisconsin wolf population far closer to their goal of 350.