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Wisconsin Hunters Turn to Highway Signs in Effort to Protect Wolves

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Jim Brandenburg
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Opposition to wolf hunts in Wisconsin is becoming more visible, and not only in public hearings or on social media. Drivers might soon notice how some hunters feel about wolves.

A new coalition, calling itself Hunters for Wolves, is behind a trio of billboards installed along roadways in northern Wisconsin. Organizers want to call attention to what they see as ethical concerns as the state prepares to update its wolf management plan.

Pat Clark, a member of the Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance, which is part of the coalition, said they want the general public to know about current methods that are allowed, like using dogs during a hunt.

"Northern Wisconsin is very dependent upon tourism-type money, and if these people knew what was going on, I think there might be more of an outcry," Clark asserted.

Clark worries hunters like him will be lumped together as the debate carries on.

After wolves were removed from federal endangered-species protection, a court-ordered hunt in February saw the state far exceed the harvest quota.

The Department of Natural Resources has been gathering public input on how to manage the species and this fall's season. An agency board could soon decide on enacting restrictions, including on night hunting.

Erik Schyvinck, another member of the coalition, said he feels well-funded groups pushing the hunts have a had a strong influence on state policy. He hopes the billboard campaign will lead to more citizen influence on wolf management, and make it clear there are hunters who have a conscience about managing the species.

"It lets people know that not all hunters are into just [the] slaughter of wolves," Schyvinck contended. "We are into conservation."

People on all sides of the issue acknowledge wolves play an important role in the ecosystem. But supporters of wolf hunts say the animal preys on livestock, and fears about decimating the wolf population are overstated.

Wisconsin's debate comes as more than 100 scientists called on the Biden administration to reinstate federal protections.

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