An official from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rejects the idea that the kill goal for this year's wolf hunt is unsustainable and will lead to an eventual re-listing of the grey wolf as an endangered species.
The DNR plans to allow non-tribal hunters to kill about 250 wolves this fall: that's up from 117 last year. Some researchers argue that killing 250 wolves every year could prompt the need to shut down the hunt a year or two later and trigger a federal re-listing of the wolf.
DNR carnivore specialist Dave McFarland, however, says it is possible next year's hunt won't be as large. "We'll harvest 250 animals this year; we'll reassess," he says. "If we need to reduce the quota to reduce the rate of decline or stabilize the population, that's what would occur. Any analysis that assumes static quotas is fundamentally flawed, because it ignores that aspect." McFarland says Wisconsin has dramatically reduced bear hunting quotas in parts of the state to stabilize the bear population.
Whatever Wisconsin does with wolves over the next few years, it will continue to draw comparisons with other states like Michigan and Minnesota. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is slated to have its first wolf hunt this fall, with a kill limit of 43. There may be a Michigan ballot referendum in November, 2014, aimed at stopping the hunt.
Michigan DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell says wolf protection groups there may succeed, even though Michigan already plans a more conservative hunt than Wisconsin: "Michigan has no dogs and no trapping," he says, "yet we will probably have a 'one-and-done' season."
Minnesota plans its second wolf hunting season this November.