The Force of the Horse

Hunters Kill 20% of Wisconsin’s Wolf Population in Just 3 Days of Hunting Season

By Todd Richmond as published on Time

“Here at SFTHH we are laser focused on the issues surrounding Equines in distress, both wild and domestic, but we DO keep our eyes open for other species suffering undue harm at the hand of humankind.  Be they Whales, Dolphins, Bison, Wolves or Seals…we are tuned in and this week the state of Wisconsin has really shown it’s bloody ass with the needless and insane butchering of native wolves.  Before I go sideways with censors I relay the story, below.  Disgusting, absolutely disgusting!” ~ R.T.

This July 16, 2004, file photo, shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. Wisconsin wildlife officials opened an abbreviated wolf season Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, complying with a court order to start the hunt immediately rather than wait until November. The hunt will run through Sunday, Feb. 28 across six management zones.
Dawn Villella

(MADISON, Wis.) — Wisconsin hunters and trappers killed nearly double the number of wolves that the state allotted for a weeklong season, and they did it so quickly that officials ended the hunt after less than three days, according to figures released Thursday.

Nontribal hunters and trappers registered 216 wolves as of Thursday afternoon, blowing past the state’s kill target of 119. The state Department of Natural Resources estimated before the hunt that there were about 1,000 wolves in the state. Its population goal for the animal is 350.

The wolf season began Monday and was supposed to run through Sunday, but the DNR shut it down Wednesday afternoon as it became clear hunters would exceed the target. Hunters and trappers were given a 24-hour grace period, allowing them to remain in the field until Thursday afternoon. Hunters and trappers also exceeded their kill targets in the three previous wolf seasons but never by more than 10 animals.

“This is a deeply sad and shameful week for Wisconsin,” Megan Nicholson, director of the Wisconsin chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. “This week’s hunt proves that now, more than ever, gray wolves need federal protections restored to protect them from short-sighted and lethal state management.”

DNR officials said nearly 90% of hunters used dogs to chase down wolves, and fresh snow on Monday and Tuesday aided in tracking. The state sold 1,547 permits, which equates to 13 hunters or trappers per wolf in the target number, the highest ratio of any wolf season so far.

DNR Wildlife Management Director Eric Lobner said during a news conference that the large number of hunters was difficult to manage but that staff were monitoring registrations hourly. Randy Johnson, the department’s carnivore biologist, said he was checking them every 15 minutes.

At the end of the day Monday, only nine animals had been registered. Lobner said when checked at 7 a.m. Tuesday, 48 animals were registered. The department announced the first management zone closures three hours later.

“It’s easy at this point in the game to say, yeah, maybe we should have closed it a little bit sooner,” Lobner said. “There were so many unknowns about how the season was going to play out. … How far we went over goal was not necessarily our objective.”

Kill totals could climb higher. The DNR initially set a kill target of 200 animals but the state’s Ojibwe tribes claimed the right to 81, according to treaty rights. It was unclear whether tribal hunters and trappers would take any wolves; the Ojibwe regard the wolf as sacred and oppose hunting it.

Dylan Jennings, a spokesman for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which administers Ojibwe hunting rights, said he didn’t have any estimates of how many wolves tribal hunters and trappers may have taken, but he said they hadn’t met their quota and could continue to hunt and trap. He didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up email inquiring about how many permits have been issued to tribal hunters and trappers.

Lobner said DNR officials aren’t worried that the wolf population overall has been harmed, calling Wisconsin wolves “very robust.” When department officials were planning the hunt, they decided that the population could sustain between 200 and 220 deaths and remain stable. Assuming the Ojibwe kill no wolves, the department came close to hitting that mark, he said.

Wolf management has been one of the most contentious outdoors issues Wisconsin has grappled with in the last 20 years. Farmers and rural residents complain wolves attack livestock and pets and insist that hunting is the only way to control the apex predators. Conservationists counter that the population is still too fragile to support hunting and the animals are too beautiful to be killed.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, signed a law in 2012 that requires the DNR to hold an annual wolf season between November and February after the Obama administration removed the animals from the federal endangered species list. The DNR held a hunt that year and in 2013 and 2014, and the state’s kill targets were exceeded in each of those years.

The DNR stopped holding hunts after a federal judge restored protections for wolves in late 2014. But the Trump administration removed them from the endangered species list in January, returning management rights to the state and triggering the mandatory season in Wisconsin.

The DNR had been preparing to hold the wolf hunting season in November, but Republican legislators demanded it start before the end of February, saying they were afraid President Joe Biden would place wolves back on the endangered species list before November. The Humane Society of the United States has filed a lawsuit seeking to re-list wolves.

The DNR initially refused to start the hunt in February, but hunter advocacy group Hunter Nation won a court order this month forcing an immediate start to the season.

Plans are still underway for a November season. Lobner and Johnson said the department will have to digest the data from the hunt that just ended before considering possible kill targets for that season.

Lawmakers in neighboring Minnesota have introduced dueling bills that would ban wolf hunting or establish a season to hunt the animals. Wildlife officials in Colorado are trying to develop a plan for reintroducing the animal after it was hunted, trapped and poisoned to extinction there decades ago. Animal advocates have been urging the state to move quickly on reintroduction, but state officials say they want to move slowly.

11 replies »

  1. Like Wild Horses, the wolves are another keystone species which must be allowed, as all of nature, to be dictated by the mechanisms of natures balance. The wolves will fill their niche, and then numbers stabalzie based upon density dependent and independent inhibition. Their numbers may rise and then fall determined by prey species,as well as other predatores, but regardless always the right number. Much more the wolves are not the vicious animals that hollywood portrays but rather one of the most loving nurturing creatures on the face of the earth. THey just need to be left to natures mechanisms, unmanaged and untouched

    Liked by 1 person

    • How is it even possible to find “balance” in natural conditions when our planet is hosting almost billion humans now, for the first time in hisotry, and we are impacting just about every inch of it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is always a way to accommodate nature and take the restrictions off, so that it can be itself. But we can start by eliminating these killings. Wolves, like the wild horses, don’t breed out of control. Reproductive compensation occurs gradually, until the niche is filled, then numbers fluctuate based upon natures own mechanisms, but always in balance. It is mankind’s belief that he must manage nature, that he has to control the numbers, that has thrown nature out of balance, and usually out of pride or greed, or fear. And because nature is dynamic, and not static, it is constantly fluctuating its numbers from the microbial to the major mammals, so mankind can’t be so proud that he has to place a fixed number upon any species. Like the wild horses, nature has its own appropriate management level for the wolves, but that AML will change continually, always based uoon its own criteria. Regardless we have to stand aside, or we will not only destroy everything, but ourselves as well in the process, if we don’t let nature be what it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed! My ecology prof long ago warned against using the term “balance” since Nature is always adjusting and fluctuating, never static, so balance is fleeting if even ever achieved. That said, Nature is always evolving and mostly in ways inscrutable to human beings. This is one of my arguments agains such ham-fisted wild horse and burro managment — in that we are messing with their own genetic libraries and ongoing adaptations in ways we cannot even comprehend, especially as they adapt to changing climatic conditions.

        However, your answer to my question falls short. Nearly 8 BILLION people now walk this earth, it seems impossible to even suggest they somehow can or would “stand back” as essentially every inch of this planet bears this burden. There simply isn’t the space left to leave Nature unfettered, so we compromise in smaller and smaller pockets we fence off and pretend are somehow “natural” (like HMAs). The better answer is larger, connected areas but this also is mitigated against by increasing numbers of (increasingly outdoor recreationally minded) people.

        It seems to me the only “balance” possible will be with those species who can (and do) adapt to the presence and actions of human beings, who now dominate our land, our water, our skies and even space. Or… the novel species like Tardigrades whose lifelines operate on such a long arc, and whose absolute reliience, shield them somewhat from us. I wish the same were true for many more species.


      • By virtue of the fact that we have taken our hands off of nature to try to control it and left nature to its dynamic mechanisms nature by its own definition has found balance, because balance is not found in a fixed number, or in greed, or pride. There was a time when I thought in the same way, how can there be a balnce when the populalations of mankind keep growing and expanding. As crazy as it sounds I realized that I have to keep believing, and educating others and never give up, because if I give up as so many others have, then those who want to destroy nature for their own gain have already won. So regardless of the opposition, whatever it may sound like, I have given myself , to whatever degree, or for whatever impact, to try to help people to understand. Maybe I’m not doing a good job, but I’m still trying and can’t give up.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The thought of 20% of the population being slaughtered? I just dont understand the apparent need to kill them and I really dont believe that there are great numbers of livestock and pets being killed by wolves. In many places non-lethal methods of protecting domestic animals have worked well – but of course its easier to kill them. Watching the continuous slaughter of one species after another – one of which is our wild horses – this has to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

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