Biologist Says Wolf Populations Stable Under State Management

Jan 10, 2017


A prominent Midwest wolf biologist thinks a possible delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act will not drive the population to dangerous levels.

L. David Mech is a Senior Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota. He has studied wolves and their prey since 1958.

Dr. Mech says some Great Lakes states had the ability to control wolf populations and each state set their own goals. If that ability is returned to the states, he says from his biological perspective, the goals wouldn't substantially affect populations...

" none of the cases it didn't really seem to have any large affect on the population. Wolf populations are very prolific because they have a large annual reproduction. Each wolf population generally doubles each year in the spring when the pups are born. There's a lot of new wolves around and come fall, while some of them have perished, many of them haven't....."

Mech says the numbers taken cut into the increased population for that year, but the takings, he says, don't change substantially the overall general population...

"....there was a case in Wisconsin one year when the population seemed to have dropped after the hunt but not to any kind of critical number. It was sitll in the 500's or something like that..."

Wisconsin experts think there is a base population of about 800 wolves in Wisconsin.

Others disagree about delisting and local control. One recent report put the gray wolf on the Imperiled species list.

There has been pressure put on Congress to overturn a judge's ruling putting wolves back on the Endangered Species list. Groups are supporting the return to state control to control the population over fears of a declining deer herd in parts of state and the depredation of farm animals in other parts of Wisconsin.