Wolf Hunt Bill

A bill that would create a wolf hunting season is working its way through the legislature.  The proposal has already been passed out of an Assembly Committee with bipartisan support and a public hearing was held today in a Senate Committee.

The bill would require to the DNR to set up a hunt in order to control the wolf population in Wisconsin.  The numbers of wolves and wolfpacks in the state has increased steadily in recent years, and the number of negative wolf-human encounters has increased in concert.

The hunting season would run from October 15th to the end of February.  The DNR would strictly limit the amount of permits available and would likely use a point system and a lottery to distribute licenses, similar to how they handle bear permits.  The hunt would allow hunters to shoot or trap a wolf and would also allow nighttime hunting at certain points in the season.

Many in the legislature are eager to pass this bill because the wolf was recently removed from the endangered species list in Wisconsin by the federal government, and Wisconsin must present a plan to the feds in order to maintain control over the wolf population.

In the past, farmers who lost animals to wolf predation were allowed to apply for a permit that would allow a federal trapper to remove problem animals, but they were not killed.  After the delisting the DNR issued special permits to farmers that allowed them to kill problem wolves.  Forty-six permits have been issued, and the first wolf was trapped and killed in just the last week.

However, there are plenty who don’t want to see a public wolf hunt.  Jodi Habush Sinykin testified the bill is being rushed and the DNR is not even consulting with their own wolf biologists.  She does not want the state to allow a statewide hunt on wolves.  Instead, she would like to see a focus on areas where the number of wolf depredations on livestock and pets is highest.  Habush Sinykin says widespread wolf hunting could cause a larger disruption to the wolf population than just those wolves that are actually killed by hunters.  She says a statewide hunt could lead to a crash in the wolf population, putting them back on the endangered species list.

However, many wildlife groups are in support of a public hunt.  Farmers and ranchers are definitely in support.  The DNR pays farmers for the loss of livestock from wolf attacks, and the amount of money paid out has increased in recent years.  In 2011 the DNR paid out $187,000 dollars for wolf depredation.  In 2012 that number is expected to be more than $316,000.  Even with those dollar figures, many ranchers say the DNR payouts are well below fair market value for the animal, and it does not account for the amount of stress put on a herd by constant wolf pressure.

Decades ago the DNR established 350 wolves as the target population for Wisconsin.  They now estimate there are well more than 800 wolves in the state.  But the DNR is not willing to say if 350 is still the target, or how many permits they will issue each season.

Judging from the public statements of lawmakers at the Senate hearing, some sort of wolf hunt is likely to pass the legislature with bipartisan support.  The exact details of the hunt are still being worked out, but it looks like the season will open this fall.


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6 Responses to Wolf Hunt Bill

  1. Christine says:

    I don’t like it. Why is it that simply because an animal just comes off the endangered list and become a slight nuisance to people who are living in its territory we suddenly want to push it back to endangered? The idea of limiting it to areas where the most problems occur is a better option. We need to approach these things with caution to keep the balance, not just go hog wild with wholesale slaughter because that is more convenient to us for now and then we pay in the long run. Nature is a delicate balance. Wolves will take down deer and we have too many of those, kill of wolves and we get an uneven balance again. Think people, think.

  2. Patricia Randolph says:

    Many “wildlife groups” are NOT in support of a wolf slaughter over packs of dogs increasing the dog harrassment and killing of all wildlife in their path to EIGHT months across the north. The trespass and disruption of all ecosystems makes all of us who live in the country miserable 9 months of the year already. Let’s see – 5.6 million people in WI, 3.4 million slaughterhouse animals for HUMAN consumption (over half a cow per person), 1 million overpopulated deer (for easy lazy hunter kill satisfaction) and 800 wolves. The “depredation” of wolves was a “confirmed” 85 livestock all year (about a tenth of a cow per wolf who HAVE to predate to LIVE, unlike humans who are healthier vegan). The payouts for wolf kill to farmers was less MONEY than the payout to bear hunters who put their dogs at risk terrorizing bears FIFTEEN WEEKS of the 24 they are out of hibernation – so the bear hunters who are terrorizing and destroying our wildlife were feeding also at the public trough for more money than paid out to farmers for their DOGS. This is not a wolf problem…this is a human problem.
    Wolves are not destroying the climate, emptying dying oceans, spearing whales, clubbing seals, destroying boreal forests to dig out dirty oil to spew into cars, or overpopulating the earth like humans who have such hubris that they want to kill our sacred wolves who weave the world together for us – and we are too stupid to know it.

  3. Patricia Randolph says:

    We are organizing a group called Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic – VOTE OUR WILDLIFE (WE VOW) to protect our wildlife and gain a first time democratic participation for the 90% of the public who have been disenfranchised by a DNR murder biz that is destroying our wildlife for fun and games of the demented serial killers who run the state a la the NRA and Safari Headhunting Club International. Wildlife watchers in Wisconsin number 3 million and we bring fully THREE times the revenue to state and local tax coffers than hunters do DESTROYING our wildlife (including their killing license fees which just run the registration, stocking, licensing, wardens and BUSINESS of killing – nothing more). But we have never had a say….It is not just the harm done by one special interest stranglehold on our wildlife – it is a healthy humane public disempowered and whose participation has not been welcome in a business that just caters to killing. Please put Madravenspeak into madison.com and all 29 pro-living wildlife columns will come up and look out for our developing web site just started tonight! http://wiwildlifeethic.org/ soon to be educational and you can join!

  4. Paul says:

    “However, many wildlife groups are in support of a public hunt.”

    What “wildlife” groups are these? The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation? The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association? Safari Club International? Every “wildlife” group that supports this bill is a wildlife killing group, not a “wildlife” group. These groups are out to control our wildlife for their killing pleasure, as this bill proves. Disgusting.

  5. When attempting to manage wolf populations today, we must admit that the threat of prion contamination in our watersheds and food chain now poses a much greater risk to several industries, human health, and homeland security than our god-given wolves ever did. In fact, predators are one of nature’s few defense barriers against the deadly spread of prion disease.

    Prions are a form of deadly protein that builds up in the cells and bodily fluids of people and animals afflicted with various forms of prion disease, including mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease, scrapie, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Prions now are such a formidable threat that the United States government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to halt research on infectious prions in the United States in all but two laboratories. Now, infectious prions are classified as select agents that require special security clearance for lab research. The intent is to keep prions and other dangerous biological materials away from terrorists who might use them to contaminate, food, water, blood, equipment, and entire facilities.

    Dr. Stanley Prusiner earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for identifying and studying deadly prions. President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the growing significance of his discovery.

    We now know that various forms of prion disease are already spreading around the world. Prion disease has been found in livestock and a variety of wildlife species across the U.S. and Canada (in gray wolf habitat). Reducing wolves in these areas below natural numbers will open the door even wider to the deadly spread of prion contamination in the environment.

    The prion pathogen spreads through urine, feces, saliva, blood, milk, soil, and the tissue of infected animals (not to mention soil and water). With those attributes, prions obviously can migrate through surface water runoff and settle in groundwater, lakes, oceans, and water reservoirs. There is not a known cure for prion disease and allowing sick animals to wander the wild unchecked by wolves will further contaminate entire watersheds – increasing the pathway to humans, livestock, and wildlife downstream.

    If prions must be regulated in a laboratory environment today, the outdoor environment should be managed accordingly. Wolves and other predators represent one of the few natural barriers to help minimize the spread of prions in the environment and within our food chain. Accelerating the killing of wolves and other predators for profit and pleasure is a foolish experiment in prion management and a reckless platform for safeguarding wildlife, watersheds, and homeland security. In fact, the National Park Service studied the issue and concluded that “as CWD distribution and wolf range overlap in the future, wolf predation may suppress disease emergence or limit prevalence.” (The Role of Predation in Disease Control: A Comparison of Selective and Nonselective Removal on Prion disease Dynamics in Deer.)

    Now, more than ever, wolves are part of a healthy ecosystem and a healthy future. It’s time to develop a comprehensive prion-management strategy that maximizes safeguards for human health, food, water, and wildlife around the globe. The stakes are too high for fragmented and misguided prion policies. Just ask the Canadian cattlemen what a few prions did to their industry. Ask the U.S. cattle and dairy industries if they want to increase prion pathways in the watersheds that feed our public and private lands. My guess is that a prion in the soil or water doesn’t care if it attaches to a cow, sheep, deer, elk, or human. It kills them all with the same efficiency. Dilution of this pathogen is not a solution. Ignoring this pathogen is not a solution because prions migrate, mutate and multiply. Let wolves and other predators do their job in the food chain without human interference. This is no time for people to play god.

  6. Paul says:


    Too bad most of the people who want to kill wolves couldn’t care less about how good they are for the environment. In fact, I am not so sure they would know the difference between a prion and a Prius. To them it all just one big “liberal” conspiracy. Thank you for bringing this information to the rest of us.

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