If I could make a prediction it would be that wolf-related stories will dominate the world of outdoors-related media in 2008. I receive/read stories related to wolves nearly every day…

Will Wolves Be Hunted In Wisconsin?

From Wire Reports

Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress plans to ask sportsmen this spring whether they want to hunt timber wolves at some point in the near future. The state organization’s survey will be forwarded to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the legislature, though neither entity is required to act upon the results of the poll.

Ron Waller, an Eagle River grouse hunter, says wolves are all over his part of the state. “If they [state authorities] don’t do something appropriate soon, it’s going to migrate to the three ‘S’ method — shoot, shovel and shut up,” Waller says. “People are just going to start taking things in their own hands.”

“You send people out there hunting wolves, it’s going to screw everything up. It’s just not a good idea,” counters Jim Olson of Eau Claire, who represents the Wisconsin Sierra Club.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan wolves from the endangered species list in 2007, thereby allowing those states to manage the animals as they see fit. Wisconsin’s management strategy calls for a maximum population of 350 animals, but the DNR estimates there are as many as 575 timber wolves roaming the north woods, and the population is growing about 12 percent annually. The current management plan allows landowners to trap wolves and shoot them if they’re in the act of attacking a pet or livestock. It also allows hunting if the population exceeds 350 animals.

Since 1984, the state has paid out about $630,000 for wolf damage. That compares with about $1.3 million in damage caused by other animals, including deer, in 2006 alone, according to DNR figures. The Conservation Congress, a citizens’ advisory group to the Natural Resources Board, plans to ask outdoor enthusiasts at its statewide meetings April 14 whether the state should create a wolf-hunting season. The DNR would have to develop rules for the hunt and the state legislature would have to pass a bill approving the plan.

A pending lawsuit filed last year by four animal advocacy groups demands that the Fish and Wildlife Service place wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota back on the endangered species list. Groups involved included the Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, the Animal Protection Institute, now known as Born Free USA, and Friends of Animals and Their Environment.

Nicole Paquette, Born Free USA’s senior vice president and general counsel, called a wolf hunt in Wisconsin a bad idea. “There’s no telling what impact a hunt would have on the population,” she says, “and killing animals simply frees up food that will attract more creatures.”

But Waller says joggers and others who travel outdoors in the Eagle River area are so afraid of wolves they’re starting to pack pistols.

“There’s a lot of people who love the wolves,” he notes, “but they don’t live up here.”