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Wisconsin DNR sued for not implementing a wolf hunt this winter

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 3:03 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A national hunting rights organization is suing Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources for not allowing people to hunt wolves this winter.

Hunter Nation, based in Kansas, says the DNR is violating state law by refusing to immediately establish a wolf hunting and trapping season after federal protections were lifted early last month.

Less than two weeks ago, the DNR’s policy board voted 4-3 against opening a wolf hunting season by Feb. 10th amid concerns the department had not consulted tribal nations as required by treaties and did not have time to set quotas (see related story).

But according to Hunter Nation president & CEO Luke Hilgemann, who lives in Marshfield, Wis., the DNR had plenty of time to prepare for the removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

“This has been a years-long process where this is no surprise to anyone. They’ve made it very clear at the beginning of this process they were going to use science to make these decisions and they did -- they did exhaustive research, they worked with the state, and unfortunately we’re sitting here in Wisconsin when we should be out harvesting wolves and managing this population responsibly, we’ve still yet to have a season,” says Hilgemann.

A 2012 state law requires the DNR to allow wolf trapping and hunting from November through February if wolves are not listed as endangered.

Wisconsin last held a wolf hunt in 2014, and the DNR estimates the state is currently home to nearly 1,100 wolves in 256 packs, a modern day high.

“And we’ve seen depredations increase by 70 percent -- that means wolves killing livestock, pets, deer, other wild populations -- and we just have no means to manage them here in Wisconsin. This hunt was our means to do that, and unfortunately the DNR and the Evers administration has stalled it,” says Hilgemann.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the DNR reaffirmed its position saying in part that “implementing a wolf season requires adequate time not only to develop a science-based harvest quota but also to engage the public and tribal partners in the development of a season plan that adequately reflects the interests of diverse stakeholders throughout Wisconsin. We are continuing to take the steps necessary to implement a wolf hunt beginning in November 2021.”

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