DNR defies policy-making board, sets fall wolf hunt quota at 130
Natural Resources Board chose 300-animal limit in August
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
WISCONSIN – Despite its policy-making board previously setting a 300-wolf quota for the fall hunt set to begin on Nov. 6, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced on Monday, Oct. 4 that it had reduced the quota to 130 animals.
In a release, the DNR said it is “authorized by state statute and the department’s rules to make the final decision on the quota for the Fall 2021 wolf harvest.”
“In determining the quota, the department considered the best available information and scientific modeling, as well as the input from the Wolf Harvest Committee, the Natural Resources Board, and the many groups and members of the public who provided comments to the department and the Board,” the DNR stated.
According to the DNR, state-licensed hunters and trappers will be authorized to harvest 74 wolves within six zones, while the remaining 56 animals will be granted to the Ojibwe Tribes, in accordance with federal treaties.
“The department will use a license ratio of 5:1 to offer the opportunity to 370 successful applicants to purchase a state wolf hunting license,” the DNR stated. “The department plans to notify successful applicants Oct. 25, at which point licenses will also go on sale.”
DNR biologists previously recommended setting the November quota at 130 wolves because the hunt held in February took place during the species’ mating season, and the hunt’s long-term impact on the state’s wolf population is not yet known. 218 wolves were harvested in February, exceeding the 119-wolf quota in place at the time, forcing the season to be ended after four days and drawing outrage from wildlife advocates and the Chippewa tribes.
In August, the Natural Resources Board voted 5 to 2 to set a 300-animal limit for the fall hunt.
Felzkowski blasts DNR
After the 130-wolf quota was announced this week, State Senator Mary Felzkowski accused the DNR of “(ignoring) Northwoods input” and “(abandoning) the democratic process.”
“When the possibility of a wolf hunt opened up to Wisconsinites for the first time in almost a decade last year, farmers and families in the Northwoods were relieved,” Felzkowski stated in a release from Tuesday, Oct. 5. “Northern Wisconsin was terrorized by wolves for too long – and the state finally had a way to help. A well-regulated hunt has always been a valuable instrument in the toolbox of resource management.”
In defying its own policy-making board, Felzkowski said the DNR demonstrated that it “doesn’t consider sportsmen and women valuable partners in resource management.”
“Governor Evers’ department has trampled over the advisory board, which was created in part to take feedback from citizens and ensure that Wisconsinites had a voice in matters of natural resources,” Felzkowski stated. “It’s sad to see that even the democratic system can’t protect the Northwoods from the Evers administration’s attacks.”
Two days after the 130-wolf quota was set, Legislative Republicans released a slate of 13 bills, dubbed the “Sporting Freedom” bill package, related to firearms and outdoor recreation. Included in the package were bills authored by Felzkowski that would authorize the carrying of concealed firearms without licenses and the hunting of sandhill cranes.
Lawsuits seek to stop hunt
Lawsuits seeking to stop the fall wolf hunt have been brought by numerous wildlife advocacy groups.
Among animal protection groups suing to halt the November season is Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife. Melissa Smith, founder of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, called the February hunt a “slaughter” and said the group is “still evaluating whether or not the science supports a quota of 130 wolves for this fall.”
Six Ojibwe tribes last month filed a suit seeking to stop the fall wolf hunt, claiming the state of Wisconsin is violating rights granted to them by federal treaties ratified in the 1800s. Under the treaties, the tribes are granted rights to half of all natural resources, including wolves, in non-reservation territory ceded to the federal government.
“First in setting the quota for the upcoming wolf hunt, Defendants purposefully and knowingly discriminated against the Ojibwe Tribes by acting to nullify their share,” the complaint filed on Sept. 21 stated. “Second, the Defendants failed to use sound biological principles in establishing the quota for the upcoming hunt.”
A hearing in the tribes’ case is scheduled for Oct. 29.