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Committee Recommends Smaller Wolf Hunt for 2014

Derek Bakken

State officials still want to shrink Wisconsin’s wolf population, but at a much slower rate.

The state’s Wolf Advisory Committee has recommended a harvest of 156 wolves this fall – more than a hundred fewer than last year.

DNR Carnivore Specialist Dave MacFarland says that’s because the population is shrinking.  Recent state counts put the wolf population at about 660, down from 809 the previous winter.

“A stable quota on a smaller population would represent a much higher rate and would result in accelerating population decline.”

The DNR management goal for wolves is 350.  But MacFarland says officials don’t expect to get there all at once, because small populations are delicate.  That’s why they want to reduce not just the number of wolves, but the rate of population decline...from more than 18 percent last year to about half that.    

“We just don’t know exactly with any population – you know it’s a natural system, we just don’t have complete control so we think that caution is warranted as we approach the goals identified in the management plan.”

The committee’s recommendation heads to DNR leadership, who will send a final recommendation to the Natural Resources Board.  There will be a public comment period once that happens…and the board will take up the issue in June. 

Last year the committee recommended a harvest quota of 275; the number of licenses was reduced slightly to 251 in response to declarations made by the Chippewa tribes.  

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