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Wisconsin cancels wolf hunt after the species regains federal protections


Wolves have been on and off the endangered species list for the past two decades.

Now, they’re back on it.

A federal judge in California overturned a Trump administration decision to delist wolves, so once again, the animal will enjoy federal protections in the country’s lower 48 states.

While wolves in some parts of the country need that protection, wildlife biologist Adrian Wydeven says Wisconsin’s wolf population has rebounded.

“We have the highest population of wolves in the lower 48 states. The Great Lakes Region has about 4,500 wolves,” he says. “So this is a relatively healthy population.”

However, because the animal is back on the endangered species list, the state and landowners can no longer use lethal weapons to control the wolf population.

“As an endangered species, even when a wolf is attacking your calf, you can’t shoot that wolf legally. But if it’s a state-managed species, you have the ability to protect your livestock and you can get permits to kill wolves if you’ve had deprivation problems in the past,” Wydeven explains. “Having the delisted status does give landowners and the state much more ability to control some of these problems.”

Some state lawmakers, including Representatives Rob Swearingen and Calvin Callahan, say this is a problem.

They say they’ve already received resolutions from the Langlade and Forest County boards asking for state help to bring the wolf population down.

And they argue the order will negatively affect safety, tourism, farming and property values in the Northwoods.

Ojibwe leaders, on the other hand, are celebrating.

“This is really good news for us,” John Johnson, president of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, says. “In all endangered species, all the tribes, states and the feds have to work together because once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

The wolf plays an especially important role in Ojibwe culture, which maintains the wolf and the original man walked the earth together to name all the plants and animals.

The Lac du Flambeau tribe was one of six tribes that sued the state in September to try to stop the November wolf hunt.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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