As of Jan. 27, 2012, the gray wolf was taken off the Federal Endangered Species list. Now that it is taken off the list, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) can manage the wolf population throughout the state, except for on Tribal Reservations.
The WDNR has been fighting for authority for years to be able to manage the population like they think is necessary. The DNR is now working out the details of a hunting and trapping season to keep the population at a socially sustainable level. I wanted to learn more about the proposed harvest plan, so I sent out six letters to key decision makers throughout the state to get their views on the proposed harvest plan. My three biggest questions that I wanted to learn more about were on the different viewpoints, the benefits and the drawbacks of current planning, and how people will get payment from a depredation of livestock and pets.
I asked the question about what their viewpoints were on the harvest plan of the gray wolf. According to Adrian Wydeven, Mammalian Ecologist/Conservation Biologist for WDNR, he agrees with parts of this harvest plan, but even he agrees that there will be and should be some changes to what is being proposed right now. He supports harvesting a reasonable amount of the population, just enough to keep a manageable number.
WDNR conservation warden Jim Jung explained that the WDNR has been working on a harvest plan for many years, and has been creating a long term management plan to keep a sustainable population in the state. In doing so, this has caused a lot of controversy with many animal rights groups and organizations.
Governor Scott Walker’s office replied that he and his administration wanted this de-listing so that the WDNR can manage the population. He also says there won’t be as many conflicts between livestock, pets and wolves if the state has a controlled harvest plan.
I then asked about the benefits and drawbacks with the wolf harvest plan. According to Governor Walker’s office, a reasonable population goal for the state was set at about 300 wolves. As of now, the population expanded to more than 800 individual wolves throughout the state. The governor believes even though the depredation on livestock or pets can be controlled, we still can’t control the depredation on the whitetail deer.
According to conservation warden Jim Jung, funding could now be an issue since the wolf has been de-listed. There could also be a lot of controversy from animal rights organizations now that the gray wolf is de-listed and there is a proposed harvest plan. In my interview with conservation Warden Jung, he explained that the WDNR will be monitoring the harvest plan very closely to ensure that they do not exceed the set harvest amount. He also explained that in doing this, there may not be as much controversy and less confrontations if it is monitored closely.
My final main question to ask all of them was how the depredation payments were going to be paid for. According to Jung, now that the gray wolf has been delisted, the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources will not be reimbursing people their money for their losses. The first few years are going to be difficult to pay for the depredations, but the money will eventually be coming from the wolf license sales, and will only be reimbursed at one set date every year. Every depredation has to be submitted to the agency within 14 days of it being verified that it was a wolf depredation. Jung also explained to me that the WDNR is still trying to work out other ways to reimburse people the first few years.
In conclusion, I have talked to key leaders that allowed me to see different sides of this sometimes controversial topic. It will be a slow reimbursement process for the first few years, but it should be a good plan after it is in place. Now that the harvest plan is in the process of being finalized, our wolf population may be headed to more socially sustainable numbers.