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Wisconsin’s Green Fire Encourages Science-Based State Management of Gray Wolves

Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin’s Green Fire considers the recovery of the gray wolf in the state a conservation success story.

“We believe that it’s one that all Wisconsin citizens can justifiably be proud of,” said Executive Director Fred Clark.

Wisconsin’s Green Fire promotes conservation in Wisconsin through science-based management.

In response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision to delist Gray Wolves, the organization is recommending steps the Wisconsin DNR should take in creating a new wolf management plan. It unveiled that plan Tuesday.

Adrian Wydeven is a wildlife biologist who works with Wisconsin’s Green Fire. He’s studied wolves in Wisconsin for decades.

“I headed up the DNR’s wolf committee when we developed our 1999 plan. Now that’s a 21-year-old document. It’s now too old a document to really be guiding our current wolf management,” explained Wydeven.

While a new management plan is being created, Wisconsin’s Green Fire wants the DNR to maintain the current wolf population which at minimum is around 900.

It also wants the DNR to respect cultural views of the wolf held by Native Americans and incorporate public perception of the species into its management plan.

“Within the areas that wolves are living, there seems to be a decline in wolf attitudes, statewide we do see that there is strong support, and in general in wolf range most people do support wolves,” said Wydeven.
There’s also some key language in state law that Wisconsin’s Green Fire would like to see changed.

In 2012, the language in a law change made it so the DNR had to hold a wolf hunt if the species was no longer listed as endangered by Federal or State government.
“It requires the DNR to hold a harvest instead of allowing the DNR to hold a harvest so we would  like to really have that changed to ‘may’ and give more power back to the DNR and the general public as to determining how we harvest the wolf population,” said Wydeven.

Wisconsin has been at this point before, the U.S. Fish Wildlife delisted gray wolves in the Great Lakes region only for courts to put them back on the list.

Even if that happens again, Wisconsin’s Green Fire said it’s import for the Wisconsin DNR to create a new management plan.

“Having an updated, sound management plan is a strong base of support for Wisconsin to demonstrate to the federal government and, if there is ensuing litigation, that the state is prepared and ready to manage our population in accord with best available science. In the absence of a plan, we don’t have a leg to stand on,” said Attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin.

You can read Wisconsin’s Green Fire’s full report here.

WXPR reached out to the DNR to find out where the process for a new management plan currently stands and have not heard back. We’ll update you with more information when it’s available.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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