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Scientific Eye on Opening Day of Highly Contested Wolf Hunt

Monday marks day one of a hunting season some thought would never come: Wisconsin's first wolf hunt.

The Legislature set it into motion months ago, right after the federal government removed the wolf's endangered status.

Tim Van Deelen is one of the people who will watch the hunt scientifically.

The wildlife biologist has been studying the creature throughout its gradual return to Wisconsin, and now will monitor the impact the wolf harvest could have on the stability of its population.

The DNR doled out 1,160 permits for the wolf hunt that begins today.

During the five-month hunt, hunters can take 201 wolves.

UW wildlife biologist Tim Van Deelen is a wolf expert who has served on the scientific advisory committee to the DNR as Wisconsin's wolf population moved from endangered to stable.

Van Deelen thinks where those animals are harvested could impact the resilience of the species' population.

The dispute over the state's wolf hunt took another turn Monday, when two animal rights groups said they plan to sue to return Great Lakes wolves to the endangered species list.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals filed a 60-day notice with the Fish and Wildlife Service, requesting the agency restore federal protections for wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. If the agency does not do so during the 60-day period, the groups will ask a court to take action.

The animal rights groups are asking Wisconsin and Minnesota to put their wolf hunts on hold until the federal case is resolved. Wisconsin's hunt began Monday; Minnesota's is scheduled to begin Nov. 3.

Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.