Wisconsin’s first modern-era wolf hunt is nearing an end much sooner than even many of the state’s wolf experts expected.

As of Sunday, hunters had killed 95 wolves out of the 116 the state Department of Natural Resources set as the quota for the hunt, which could end as early as this week if that number is reached.

The season, which was set to run for five months, opened Oct. 15. The implication, some biologists say, is that wolves might be easier to hunt than people thought, even without the controversial use of dogs. That issue is locked up in Dane County Circuit Court where a judge is still hearing a case filed by 40 Wisconsin humane societies challenging the use of dogs during the hunt without adequate rules.

“We were expecting to learn a lot,” said Tom Hauge, director of the Bureau of Wildlife Game Management in the state Department of Natural Resources. “And I think we are learning a lot. We do have sufficient numbers of wolves in this state that hunters and trappers are encountering them and taking them.”

Hauge said one factor might be that Wisconsin’s woods are more accessible than the rugged landscapes in western states that biologists used as models to determine potential success rates and quotas for the state.

The DNR set a statewide quota of 116 wolves. Originally, it was 201, but the Indian tribes, which have treaty-protected hunting rights in the northern third of the state, claimed 85 wolves as their part of the quota. Citing cultural objections, however, tribal members chose not to kill any wolves.

Of the 116 wolves left to be killed by recreational hunters and trappers, about 60 percent were killed by trappers, Hauge said. The rest were killed by gun hunters. Hauge said the numbers show trapping is the most effective way to kill wolves, especially considering that trappers represented a small percentage of the licensed hunters.

As of Wednesday, the agency sold 869 resident wolf hunting licenses and six nonresident licenses. The agency authorized 1,160 resident licenses and 15 nonresident. There were 22,272 applications for the license lottery, including 486 from out of state, mostly Illinois and Minnesota.

Minnesota, which divided its wolf season in two — before and after its gun deer hunt — last week shut down its early season after hunters killed 147 wolves out of the quota of 200. Wildlife biologists in Minnesota also were surprised at how quickly hunters neared the quota during the early wolf season.

Dog use controversial

The seasons have been controversial in both states.

In Wisconsin, much of the debate has focused on the use of dogs to track wolves, which was authorized by the Legislature in the rule it passed that required the DNR to set up the hunt. The humane society groups that filed the lawsuit challenging that part of the rule argued the DNR failed to write rules governing the training and use of dogs, increasing the chances of violent and fatal fights between dogs and wolves. The next hearing in the case is set for Dec. 20.

Before the hunt, with the use of dogs temporarily prohibited by Judge Peter Anderson, hunters who favored the use of dogs warned that killing wolves would be difficult if hunters were prevented from tracking them with dogs.

But Melissa Smith, who has been active in organizing opposition to the hunt, said one positive to come from the hunt is that it proved dogs are not necessary to kill wolves.

The groups that filed the lawsuit challenging the use of dogs without more definitive rules filed a motion last week asking that the judge rule in their favor, pointing to the success of the hunt so far without the use of dogs.

One of the groups that pushed for the wolf hunt and the use of dogs is the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. Carl Schoettel, of Neosho, vice president of the organization, said last week that the case is less about success rates and more about the rights of hunters.

“It surprises me, too, that the success rate has been so good,” Schoettel said.

“But we’ve been very consistent about saying that, regardless, it is our right to use hounds no matter what animal we’re hunting ... It’s a hunter rights issue. It’s about hounds. This is a lifestyle. Some people like to bike and some people like to swim. We like to run dogs.”

Even if the dog case gets resolved, wrangling over the hunt is likely to continue.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals notified the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they will file a lawsuit if the wolf is not returned to the federal endangered species list within the next two months.

DNR pleased with hunt

Despite the controversy, Hauge said the agency’s wildlife experts were generally pleased with how the hunt has gone.

He said rules requiring hunters to report wolf kills within 24 hours and also to present the wolf carcass for inspection have worked well. Biologists were able to collect data — age, gender, general health information and reproductive status — that will be important for managing the wolf population.

That information, along with data from over-winter wolf surveys, will be helpful for determining quotas for next year’s hunt, he said.

Hauge said the agency will have to revisit the quotas, especially in light of the tribes’ choice not to kill any wolves. He said if a review of population estimates and depredation cases shows the season failed to adequately control the population, “that might mean some different decisions as far as quotas.”

Randy Stark, the DNR’s chief warden, said, as of late last week, the agency cited five wolf hunters and trappers during the hunt: one for trapping with untagged traps, two citations to hunters who purchased a trapping license without attending a trapper education course, and two citations to a wolf hunter for using illegal bait and having a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Stark said the agency also investigated several videos posted online that showed wolf hunters videotaping live, trapped wolves and possibly not killing the animals immediately and humanely, as required by law.

But he said wardens concluded that no violations occurred and the animals were shot quickly and humanely.

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(23) comments

CherokeeRose
CherokeeRose

Anyone that has to use a dog to hunt is not a hunter! The dog does all the hunting and you do the slaughter! Where's the damn sportsmanship in that? You just love to watch something die.Thats the only reason you ever go hunting.You sadist so called humans!

Shake
Shake

These "hunters" should be required to eat what they kill.

Tricolor Dog
Tricolor Dog

I can't seem to get the hound I shot stuffed anywhere. Does anybody have any suggestions?

william huard
william huard

Call the Bear Hunters BIT^& Scott Suder......He's got plenty of experience "stuffing" things. Boy- that DNR has been quiet. They don't want anyone to know how the "sportsmen"(all laugh here) in Northern Wisconsin have been torturing wolves......Where I come from, Hunters that masquarade as conservationists- and who go around killing animals because of hate, revenge, or to get back at other people that don't agree with their hunting methods- or "lifestyle" like one Bear Hounder said, are not hunters or "sportsmen:.....People sure have a funny idea of what "wildlife management" consists of......

Retoother
Retoother

Do you have this post saved in a file folder somewhere?

Copy paste much? How about something new and refreshing?

truthbetold
truthbetold

More anti-hunting hate from billy........ (all laugh here)

allwaysright
allwaysright

Curious how the trappers lure the wolvs into their traps with out using illegal bait. Wolvs generally don't like corn, apples, carrots etc. like we use for deer bait. Suspecious of them using other illegal items. I don't trap but I do know what has to be done to lure an annimal into a trap and its not donuts and cake . Friend of mine got one hunting , shot it chasing a doe, kind of tells you something also. Local people say they believe a wolf can take a deer a day especially if they are in a large pack. Iron County is were we hunted, lots of conversation with all pointing to lots of wolves. Who knows, hunters do . Have a nice day. Interesting to say the least. Wolves were on the move opening weekend and that is how this wolf was shot by a knowledgeable local hunter calling his friend who had a tag. "Better come up the wolves are on the move". It happend just like he said. Good Friend, legal hunting. No baiting for this kill, just good marksmanship and a keen eye.

Folkmuse
Folkmuse

"Wolf Slaughter Much More Effective Than Predicted". Try to imagine the suffering of these wolves, dying slow, agonizing deaths in traps. Sickening that even today people can condone this sort of thing.

Retoother
Retoother

They do not die in traps. How do you think the DNR put collars on all these wolves? Walked up and threw it around their necks? Nope.....most were caught in coyote traps, warden was called, collar comes along, put on wolf.....wolf is set free.


Such uninformed people.

johnnn
johnnn

Retoother, ever hear of what happens to animals caught in leghold traps? Seems like you need to be counted amongst the uninformed.

Retoother
Retoother

He said dieing slow in a trap........sorry but the trap does not kill. What happens after the trapper shows up is another story.

Yes you both are uninformed.

Rosalie
Rosalie

The most commonly used trap in the U.S. is the steel-jaw leghold trap, a restraining trap with spring-loaded steel jaws that clamp on an animal's foot or leg when triggered. Leghold traps can cause severe swelling, lacerations, joint dislocations, fractures, damage to teeth and gums, self-mutilation, limb amputation, and even death.
G. Proulx. “Review of current mammal trap technology in North America.” Pp. 1-46 in G. Proulx, editor. Mammal trapping. Sherwood Park: Alpha Wildlife Research & Management Ltd., 1999.
http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=53&more=1

Retoother
Retoother

Never saw an animal die in a leg hold trap yet that was checked properly.


But yes...........the boogie man is behind the tree too!

truthbetold
truthbetold

What is sickening is the amount of DOMESTIC animals these vermin have killed and maimed since their return to Wisconsin. 1400 DOMESTIC animals have been torchored by these vermin! Does Folkmuse really care about animal crulty ...... how many people think that the ones pimping these vermin are the "Sickening" ones!

concerned_citizen
concerned_citizen

One of the groups that pushed for the wolf hunt and the use of dogs is the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. Carl Schoettel, of Neosho, vice president of the organization, said last week that the case is less about success rates and more about the rights of hunters.

“It surprises me, too, that the success rate has been so good,” Schoettel said.

“But we’ve been very consistent about saying that, regardless, it is our right to use hounds no matter what animal we’re hunting ... It’s a hunter rights issue. It’s about hounds. This is a lifestyle. Some people like to bike and some people like to swim. We like to run dogs.”

and

Hauge said one factor might be that Wisconsin’s woods are more accessible than the rugged landscapes in western states that biologists used as models to determine potential success rates and quotas for the state.

and

Of the 116 wolves left to be killed by recreational hunters and trappers, about 60 percent were killed by trappers, Hauge said. The rest were killed by gun hunters. Hauge said the numbers show trapping is the most effective way to kill wolves, especially considering that trappers represented a small percentage of the licensed hunters.


Rosalie
Rosalie

I would rather call it "the wolf massacre".

magnum1
magnum1

I wonder how many of these wolves were pups. Just like the people in life. We struggle to make a living for ourselves and the Government finds a way to take it all away!

Big_Joe
Big_Joe

...or widows. Orphans too? And how about homeless wolves. They're like people too! [a life is a good thing to have. Maybe you should consider getting one.]

Scott in Wisconsin
Scott in Wisconsin

Those of us who spend a great deal of time in the woods of Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota would offer another reason why so many wolves were taken so quickly "the DNR wolf count numbers are drastically lower than the actual numbers". Why has this possibility not been discussed openly?

johnnn
johnnn

So the state was off by 60% in how they thought the hunt would go. (It only took two months to do the work estimated to take 5 months.) Not really a big deal, jsut cut the season short. But, move the thought process over to another area. What if the state is off by 60% in what they consider the effects of mining on the environment to be?

Hogzilla
Hogzilla

That's an interesting question. I think the answer could be found in studying the effects of taconite mining in other areas as there is plenty of spots to look at where they have been mining for over a century. While the wolf hunt was a "new" development, taconite mining isn't. We could look at places in Minnesota for example and see what issues arose and what effects they had on the environment. I lived in the Iron Range in NE MN for a few years and I can say the results were mixed based on the strategies used to extract the ore. They have had issues in the St. Louis River, but there are a lot of other places where mining has taken place that they haven't had any real problems. I think for the mining to be given the green light in Wisconsin, there has to be a plan on the table that uses the best practices available and a reasonable assurance that any foreseeable problems could be addressed before they become actual problems. I think that given the advancements in mining technologies and practices, there should be a safe way to get the ore out of the ground and provide an excellent source of money for workers and a steady stream of tax dollars coming into the region.

johnnn
johnnn

Hog, I've lived in N MN, too, and you're right. There are success stories and miserable failure stories. I agree that there might be a safe way to mine, but it won't be obtained by ramrodding the process without thoroughly examining all of the questions.

My point here is that since the state proved itself so far out of touch on the wolf hunt issue, how can we let the long-term health of our environment be pushed through without adequate vetting? Maybe mines will be 60% more productive than anticipated, but maybe they'll close 60% sooner or generate 60% less revenue for the public than anticipated. Don't we deserve thorough examination of these issues before turning over the keys?

Hogzilla
Hogzilla

I agree with everything you just said. I want the mine if it can be done safely. If it can't or it's not economically viable, then I would pass on it.

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