With a final appeal from the Department of Natural Resources denied by the state Court of Appeals on Friday, a Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season is set to begin today.
The season will last for one week, or until kill quotas are reached, whichever comes first. The DNR reported receiving more than 20,000 applications for wolf hunting and trapping tags as of Friday.
The application does not ensure a tag. Hunters and trappers pay a $10 fee to be entered into a drawing, with 4,000 winners allowed to purchase a license for $49. Those selected will be able to obtain their license and carcass tag and begin hunting and trapping wolves today.
DNR communications director Sarah Hoye confirmed those hunting and trapping parameters but also said individual zones may be closed before Feb. 28 based on harvest information.
Hoye also offered potential wolf hunters and trappers online DNR resources. An overview of wolf population data can be found in “The WI Gray Wolf Monitoring Report—2020” on the DNR website.
Hunters seeking a place to hunt are encouraged to use the Public Access Lands System to search public land in their area. An interactive map can be accessed at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/fl/RealEstate/PALApplication.
Proponents of the hunt often point to the threats that wolves can pose to livestock. The DNR maintains an interactive wolf depradation and threats map that allows users to view the locations of wolf depredation and threat conflicts verified from 2013 through the present.
That map can be located on the DNR website.
Hoye confirmed that there have not been any wolf depredation events reported in Langlade County so far in 2021. There was a depredation event in 2020 in the northeast portion of the county.
The DNR plan has set a statewide wolf kill quota of 200 animals. That quota is spread across six management zones, but exclusive of American Indian reservations. The quota number may be reduced pending claims by Ojibwe tribes, which hold hunting, fishing and gathering rights through about the northern one-third of the state, which entitles them to 50 percent of the harvest.
The latest DNR estimates state that Wisconsin had 1,195 wolves in 256 packs in late winter 2020.
The hunt has been the topic of much debate and plenty of legal activity since the wolf was removed from the federal Endangered Species protections on Jan. 4. That delisting meant state officials can once again manage the wolf population, including by lethal means, which includes hunting and trapping seasons.
The DNR had planned for the next wolf season in November, a plan upheld in a 4-3 vote by the Natural Resources Board at its Jan. 22 meeting. That decision sparked a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, representing a Kansas-based hunting advocacy group called Hunter Nation.
A Jefferson County Circuit Court judge ruled on behalf of the hunters on Feb. 11 and ordered the DNR to implement a season according to state statute. In Friday’s appeals court ruling, the court stated that “this court lacks jurisdiction over a direct appeal at this time.”