Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Votes 4 to 3 Against Holding A Wolf Hunt this Winter
There will not be a wolf hunt in Wisconsin this winter.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board heard nearly four hours of testimony on the subject Friday.
The NRB held an emergency meeting Friday after some state legislators sent a letter saying state law required the DNR to hold a hunt this winter and wanted one before lawsuits potentially put the species back on the Endandgered Species List.
There was no shortage of people who spoke for and against an immediate wolf hunt. Public testimony lasted more than four hours.
The board then deliberated for more than an hour.
Board member Gregory Kazmierski introduced a motion that called for the board to direct the DNR to hold a wolf hunt starting no later than February 10th, 2021. The motion set the quoata at 22% of the minimum wolf count in 2020 for all managment units.
The decision came down to the law. State law does require the DNR to hold a wolf hunt every year if the wolf isn’t protected. It defines wolf season as November through February.
There was some confusions about requiring input from tribes via the wolf committee when creating a quota, which the DNR has not done.
NRB Chair Dr. Fred Prehn was the deciding vote.
He wanted to hold a wolf hunt immediately but said he couldn’t vote for something that might violate treaty rights.
“I think its deplorable that this department did not start this process earlier. I’m not happy, but it is what it is. You got to look at the facts going forward," said Prehn. "We are in a situation on 22nd of January where apparently the tribes have not been consulted properly, the wolf committee has not been put back together yet. We still don’t know who’s on the wolf committee. To say they dragged their feet is an understatement.”
The DNR said it’s against a hunt right now.
The agency said it set the November 6th wolf hunt date to give it time to form a new wolf management plan.
The current plan was created in the 1990s and updated a few times since.
DNR Deputy Secretary Todd Ambs says to do a hunt correctly it needs more time to hold public hearings and gather more information before setting quotas.
“The plan we laid out in December complies with the statute and we believe that we’ve got to do these steps frankly to not only comply with the statute, but comply with other requirements, including, we have to do these tribal consultations," said Ambs.
Republican lawmakers, farmers, hunters, and various organizations that support those interests spoke in favor of holding a wolf hunt immediately.
Tribal members, several environmental groups, wolf advocacy groups, and nature enthusiasts spoke against an immediate hunt. Within those against an immediate hunt there were some who say they would support a hunt in the fall based on science, others were against any kind of wolf hunting.