Hunters and animal rights advocates are frustrated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because they did not set a standard for wolf hunting. Animal rights advocates want wolf hunting to be illegal, but hunters want to hunt. What will the DNR do?
In the past, it was legal to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. In 2012, former Governor Scott Walker established an annual fall wolf hunt in the state. This hunt has become the biggest argument between animal rights advocates and hunters. Animal rights advocates say that “wolves are too majestic to slaughter,” but hunters say wolves kill farmers' livestock. The DNR paid out more than $3 million from 1985 to 2021 to provide for the loss of farmers’ livestock.
A group called Hunter Nation won a court case forcing the DNR to hold the month of February 2021 for hunting. The outcomes were chaotic as hunters killed 218 wolves in four days, going way past their 119-animal quota. Animal advocates worried that the February hunt decimated the population of wolves, which convinced a Dane County judge to hold off on the annual fall hunt.
However, in February 2022, a federal judge restored an endangered species protection over the gray wolves across the United States, including Wisconsin, making hunting wolves illegal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could remove it from the list of protection if the population recovered, making wolf hunting legal again. It all depends on the upcoming one or two years.
Hunters and animal rights advocates have been pressuring the DNR to make a decision. Here’s what the DNR did: instead of making a statewide population goal, they created six geographic wolf hunting zones. The counties in those zones can create their own decisions on the legalization and limitations of wolf hunting.
[Source: Associated Press ; SSFP archives; Wisconsin DNR]