Wisconsin DNR releases revised draft of new wolf management plan
The latest draft of Wisconsin’s wolf management plan doesn’t have many major changes from the previous one.
The DNR said it was more about clarifying certain parts of the plan people had questions about or misunderstood.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources got roughly 3,500 public comments on its new wolf management plan.
“We heard opinions that run the full spectrum of on this issue with much of the feedback, echoing previous inputs and previous public comments that we've heard earlier in this process. And there were certainly areas of contention and even misconception expressed in those comments,” said Randy Johnson, DNR’s Large Carnivore Expert and lead author of the plan.
Johnson says many of the changes made in the latest draft of the plan were part of what he calls “improving transparency”.
The population goal was a big one.
The new draft still does not set a numeric population goal.
Instead, it focuses on six management goals that differ based on where you are in the state and what kind of wolf habitat and human conflict is there.
However, the new draft does include some general guidance on what the state’s goal would be in terms of growing, stabilizing, and declining the wolf population based on population estimates.
It considers anywhere from 800 to 1,200 wolves as a stable population that the state could sustain.
Again, Johnson emphasized these numbers are a guide, not a population goal.
“This approach explicitly allows for fluctuations up or down in local wolf densities to achieve management objectives as needed. And so again, this was added to the plan to help provide transparency in what we expect the future statewide population to look like,” said Johnson.
Other changes to the plan include some zone changes in Lincoln County, dog training would close as each zone closes, and clarifying wolf conflict plans.
“We're returning our focus from wolf recovery in the state to long term sustainable management of the population. And we believe this plan outlines a management framework that is informed by science and public input. And that can provide for effective and responsible decision making well into the future,” said Johnson.
The DNR does not currently have any more plans for public comment on the draft.
Johnson says they’ll be meeting with stakeholders and tribal governments to go over it again.
It’s still expected to go to the Natural Resources Board for a vote in October.
If approved, the plan would only take effect if the wolves are federally de-listed.