Wisconsin's Wolf Management Debate Continues As Scientists Call To Restore Federal Protection
Within the last five months, the gray wolf was removed from federal protection and Wisconsin held a short and volatile harvest during which hunters overshot the quota of 119 wolves by more than 80%.
Wednesday, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will be tiptoeing back into the topic to discuss possible changes to gray wolf harvest regulations.
Scientists from across the country, 115 of them to be exact, want state hunts to halt. They’re calling on the Biden administration to restore legal protections for gray wolves across the contiguous United States.
Adrian Treves, professor of environmental studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, added his name to the May 13 letter.
“The Trump administration removed federal protections from the gray wolf in November 3, 2020 and did so against the advice of the majority, if not all, of the peer-review scientists whom they contracted to look at their science. I was one of those five scientists, and four out of five of us found major shortcomings in the science that should preclude delisting by the federal government,” he says.
Treves says under the Endangered Species Act, states must craft regulations that protect wolves. “In my evaluation, and I’ve done this formally and publicly with evidence, I’ve show that there are inadequate regulatory mechanisms,” he says.
Treves points to poaching as an example. “Poaching, illegal killing, is the major cause of mortality and therefore any effort at conserving the species needs to address the major cause of mortality first and foremost. We’ve shown without a doubt that it’s being underestimated, and it increases when wolves are delisted, or legal protections are removed. Illegal killing has been underestimated by the state,” he says.
Plenty of hunters appear to be interested in harvesting a wolf, either for sport or because they think of it as part of good wildlife management. Others believe wolves that threaten, or harm, livestock or pets should be killed. The next Wisconsin wolf hunt is slated for next November.
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