DNR Will Release Wolf Population Estimates Soon

Estimate May Reflect How Population Has Been Affected By Hunting Season, Brutal Winter

The DNR estimated that there were more than 800 wolves in Wisconsin last spring. Photo: Amphibol (CC-BY-SA).

The Department of Natural Resources says it expects to release its annual wolf population estimate soon.

Hunters shot or trapped a new high of 257 grey wolves during last fall’s season. Since then, people have been waiting to see how the wolf hunt – plus cold weather and other factors – might have changed the state wolf population estimate, which last spring was more than 800.

The DNR’s Dave McFarland says this year’s estimate is almost ready to be released. He also says the meeting to talk about the count has changed from an open one to one just involving DNR staff. McFarland says the change was made to provide extra protection for the scientific integrity of the data.

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“For example, with our radio-collared animals we know the exact location of those animals at given points in time,” he said. “The release of that information could result in a heightened harvest pressure in that area.”

McFarland says the DNR will be releasing wolf population estimates for each multi-county area that the agency treats as a “management unit.”

Groups with concerns about the state’s wolf hunt are suggesting the meeting was closed to the public to make it harder to fact-check the DNR’s numbers.

The DNR says a wolf advisory committee will make recommendations on how many wolves should be killed this fall on May 19 in Wausau. The DNR Board will vote on the proposed quota in late June.