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A gray wolf in the snow in Wisconsin.

DNR taking public comment on proposed wolf management rule

August 17, 2023 1:39 PM

By: Jimmie Kaska

Wisconsin's previous wolf management rules were written 24 years ago and updated in 2007.

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is taking public comment on its proposed wolf management rules.

The emergency rule, which was issued in 2012, gives the DNR authority to set up hunting seasons and zones, and regulates reporting, registration and the use of dogs in hunting for wolves.

The DNR is attempting to make the emergency rule permanent. It’s also looking to create a new wolf management plan after the old one in 1999 called for a cap of 350 gray wolves in Wisconsin. Gray wolves were added back to the endangered species list in Feb. 2022, and the DNR invalidated permits to kill the animal.

Over 3,500 public comments were made when the DNR released a draft of its plan last November. The current revised wolf management plan will be sent to the Natural Resources Board in October. Public comments will be taken on the plan through Sept. 15. Anyone that wants to comment on the plan needs to fill out the public comment form on the DNR’s website and return it to the DNR. A public hearing will be held virtually on Sept. 12 at 4 p.m.

The DNR is proposing dozens of modifications to the existing rule and is seeking to establish six wolf hunting zones in the state. Most of Wisconsin is in one zone, which is most of eastern, western, and southern Wisconsin. Northern and central Wisconsin are then divvied up into five other zones, which is where the vast majority of wolves are found.

In Wisconsin’s 2021 wolf hunting season, the last time wolves could be hunted legally in Wisconsin, and which was forced by statute after wolves were removed from the endangered species list, hunters far exceeded the state’s quota of 119 wolves, taking 218 animals. The one-week season, which began at midnight on Feb. 22, 2021, was closed just two days later.

In presentations to the public, the DNR said that the state averages fewer than 100 conflicts with wolves per year, with only 3 years between 2004 and 2020 having more than 100 confirmed incidents.

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