Wisconsin Wolf Hunt: License Quota Set, Controversy Continues

Since the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list just a few months ago, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has proposed a wolf hunting season, set to begin Oct. 15.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the DNR could issue as many as 1,165 hunting licenses with a $10 application fee plus a cost of $100 for residents and $500 for non-residents.

By estimating a hunter success rate of 20 percent, Tom Hauge, director of the DNR's Bureau of Wildlife Management, estimates hunters will kill 142-233 wolves this fall, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The DNR has also proposed harvest management zones, each with its own quota, in an effort to contain the majority of the remaining population in suitable areas.

The proposal also gives hunters a lot of leeway in their methods. They will be allowed to bait wolves and hunt at night with both lights and dogs, though the agency is attempting to balance this with the proposal of varied hunter permit levels.

But the proposal has many folks raising a skeptical eyebrow. We covered the heated delisting debate here on Newshound last September.

But the DNR says the population is way over the state limit of 350 wolves (this is the number U.S. Fish & Wildlife set as a recovery goal). It officially reported a current population estimate between 815-880. Still, skeptics question the department's collection methods.

The department will be holding four open house meetings in June to gather public input, but it's a game of he-said, she-said between northern farmers complaining of livestock under attack and DNR wolf volunteers dropping out in protest of the bill.

In the official announcement of the proposed wolf hunting legislature DNR Secretary, Cathy Stepp, said, "The department is committed to conservation of wolves in Wisconsin. Long-term conservation includes managing this important wildlife population within our borders."

Check out the early arguments for and against the bill.

If you can't make it to the meetings, speak up and comment here!