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DNR greenlights the Wisconsin wolf hunt

Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 20:31:34-05

BROWN COUNTY, Wis (NBC 26) -- For the first time in several years, Wisconsin hunters are preparing for a wolf hunt. The season begins on Monday the February 22nd and will go through 28th allowing up to 200 animals will be harvested. This hunt comes after the wolf was removed from the federal endangered species list in January.

And while as many as 4,000 hunters prepare for the wolf hunt at the end of the month, the debate continues tonight regarding if the decision was made too quickly.

It was in early January when grey wolves were taken off of the endangered species list, and it was just over a month later that the Natural Resources Board voted unanimously to green light a hunt.

"I think it's a tremendous victory not only for the sportsmen and hunters of Wisconsin but also for instilling the rule of law and making sure the wolf hunt moves forward as mandated by our state statute," says Luke Hilgemann the President of Hunter Nation.

Hilgemann brought the DNR to court to push the wolf hunt season into reality. It's the first time seven in years a hunt like this has happened in Wisconsin.

"We've seen a burgeoning wolf population which is a conservation success story but now it's time for us to manage that population and the most effective way for us to do that is to host this hunt."

Looking at data from the DNR grey wolf populations have drastically rebounded since 1980 when there were an estimated 25 wolves in the wild. Today, the estimates there are over 1,000 wolves in Wisconsin woods but that doesn't mean everyone is confident that a hunt right now shouldn't be further considered.

"Our stance has always been that we should manage wolves as well as all of our wildlife based on the most up-to-date science," Elizabeth Ward the Director of Sierra Club Wisconsin.

Ward says the decision to implement a hunt so quickly, and in February during wolves breeding season, could have major consequences.

"To not do it after getting the science and taking input from all the different stakeholders could really have long-term and devastating impacts on the populations."

The main concern for Ward is that she feels the decision was rushed into not heavily vetted. But others fear that without action being taken now the packs will grow too large, too fast.

"Just like all resources in Wisconsin, we need to be able to effectively manage them with a Wisconsin plan to do so," adds Hilgemann.