Wisconsin’s second wolf hunting season is underway, lasting until the end of February. However it is still surrounded by controversy, since the removal of wolves from the endangered species list in 2011. Nearly half the quota for the season was killed with a few days last week.
Debates are still going strong as to how to manage wild wolf populations in Wisconsin, among wolf campaigners, sportsmen and the Department of Natural Resources.
Approximately 24 members of the wolf campaigning group, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf, assembled recently in Madison, protesting for an end to the hunting. Melissa Smith, a member of the group, states, “There is no legitimate reason to be hunting wolves in Wisconsin." The group argues that the state’s management plan is based on false information; scientific research, they claim, shows the wolf population as threatened. "The wolf hunt is not something supported by the public," Smith states. "This has become a politically-based, not a science-based, issue."
The state management plan came under similar criticism last year, when the state’s native tribes strongly opposed the idea of managing the wolf. The wolf is part of their culture and tribal creation story and is highly respected by the tribal members. The story is the Great Spirit warned man that if the day came when the wolf no longer had a safe place to retreat and be removed from existence, then humans would follow.
The protests were on the same day DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp released an article defending Wisconsin’s wolf management plan. According to this article, hunters in Wisconsin are able to cull 275 wolves this hunting season, reduce the state’s population by only 13 percent, making the population closer to the state’s goal.
Stepp states, "The DNR strives to balance many of the social aspects of wolf management with the need, and the department’s responsibility, to manage the state’s wolf population."