Wisconsin DNR hosts listening session for comments on the draft of the new wolf management plan
People shared their thoughts on the Wisconsin DNR’s new wolf management plan Tuesday night.
The DNR held a virtual listening session that lasted more than three hours.
Ahead of the public comments, DNR Biologist Randy Johnson gave an overview of the plan that calls for prioritizing different objectives in different areas of the state rather than setting an overall population goal.
“The plan recognizes and applauds the biologically recovered status of wolves in Wisconsin and accordingly turns management focus from wolf recovery to long-term stewardship and sustainable management of wolves in the state,” said Johnson.
People spoke for and against various aspects of the draft. You can view the plan here.
Those that spoke in favor of the state not setting a numeric goal also tended to speak against what they say is a prioritization of lethal means of dealing with the wolf population in the plan.
Some who spoke against the non-numeric goal claimed the DNR wasn’t listening to people who live in wolf territory and that it would lead to mismanagement and overgrowth of the population.
These are the three main objectives laid out in the plan:
- Ensuring a healthy and sustainable wolf population to fulfill its ecological role.
- Addressing and reducing wolf-related conflicts.
- Providing multiple benefits associated with the wolf population, including hunting, trapping, and sightseeing.
Each one would be prioritized based on the different zones the state is split up into.
Some people had issues with how the zones were drawn.
Tyler Wenzlaff with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau doesn’t believe Marathon County should be in Zone 4, which is designated as a secondary wolf habitat zone, but instead be in Zone 6 which is a lot of agricultural land where the main goal is reducing wolf-related conflicts.
“There is no scientific reason behind the zone change and was made simply because wolves had inhabited the area. In fact, the human population has increased in the area raising the chances of human-wolf interactions which is in direct conflict objective B to reduce wolf related conflict,” said Wenzlaff.
Adrian Wydeven with Wisconsin’s Green Fire says the organization wants to see the zone lines shift slightly to include the western side of Lincoln County in Zone 1, the core area for wolf habitat where the main goal is to ensure a healthy and sustainable wolf population to sustain a healthy ecosystem.
The draft plan also gives Wisconsin’s Tribal communities something they have long asked for: buffer zones around the reservations.
Doug Cox with the Menominee Tribe says it’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.
“We would have preferred the closure of any harvest in those buffers. We understand the importance of this plan and how we are approaching it. Being able to sit at the table together, not a compromise, but a management tool. We can for today live with that,” said Cox.
Christa Hoffman is a Shawano County dairy farmer who lives in one of the proposed buffer zones where wolf harvest wouldn’t be eliminated but would be reduced to help protect reservation wolf backs.
She believes the buffer zones will lead to a lack of management of wolves in the area and says it takes away the rights of private land owners in those areas.
“I respect these animals and respect their significance to my tribal neighbors, as a business and private property owner, ensuring those that live closest to these animals have a voice in how this plan is executed in force before overpopulation in our zone is critical,” said Hoffman.
A couple of people were upset with the listening session itself. Wenzlaff was one of them.
“We hope that this is just a first step in the extensive outreach plan that includes an in-person public listening sessions throughout the designated prime area of wolf habitat. An in-person hearing is the only way to ensure that rural Wisconsin residents are allowed a voice in the process, not drowned out by out of state activists,” he said.
There were several people from out of state that spoke during the meeting.
Though, the majority of the people who spoke stated they lived in Wisconsin.
The DNR has not announced any plans to hold an in-person listening session for the wolf plan draft at this time.
Written comments are still being accepted through the end of the month.