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Energy & Environment

Natural Resources Board member questions if firm wolf population target is needed

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A member of the Wisconsin Natural Resources board is suggesting that the agency's new wolf management plan not include a specific population goal.

The DNR's current wolf management plan dates back to 1999 and sets out a population goal of 350 animals.

Board member Greg Kazmierzski said during a meeting Wednesday that nobody believes the DNR's population estimates.

He suggested that rather than establishing a numeric goal, the plan should signal whether the population should shrink or grow.

Kazmierzski asked DNR Large Carnivore specialist Randy Johnson if federal regulators would go along with such a plan.

“Not having a number, I think so. I think their focus is on making sure that the population remains healthy, and that we can respond to and identify threats. Defining what a healthy population is, is a very difficult thing to do but I think you can kind of know when you see it, especially if the population were to get to a low number or the trends were indicating a dropping population”, said Johnson.

The DNR's latest population estimates, compiled over the winter of 2019-20, totaled about 1,030 animals.

Wolf hunt supporters have used the 350-animal goal as justification for trimming the population through hunting.

The DNR anticipates issuing a new management plan by June.

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