Despite a wolf hunt that removed 218 wolves from the landscape in the fall of 2021, there was a slight uptick in the number of verified wolf conflicts in Wisconsin from the previous two years. Reports indicate the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) verified 108 of 182 reported incidents with cattle, horses, sheep, dogs and other animals are related to wolves.
Ranchers and farmers claim raising livestock and maintaining their way of life is more difficult because of gray wolves.
“I’d go out there at 3 in the morning in the dark and try to scare the wolves off, try to keep the cattle from going through the fence,” Mark Liebaert, a farmer in northeast Wisconsin, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “I agree they belong on the landscape, but they belong on the landscape in numbers and in an area where you don’t have so much conflict between the people who live here.”
The DNR’s 2020-2021 wolf monitoring reports estimated a population of 1,126 animals including 292 packs. That population count came before the fall 2021 wolf hunting season. Wisconsin’s state management plan calls for 350 wolves statewide outside of reservations.
In spite of those numbers, a federal judge in California restored federal protections to gray wolves in the Lower 48, including the Great Lakes region, in February 2022.
“Scientists, biologists and professional wildlife managers agree that wolf populations are stable and growing,” said Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “As such, they should remain under the umbrella of state management since state wildlife agencies successfully manage all other wildlife in line with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model through regulated hunting and trapping.”
Wolf population are also above state management plan totals in nearby Michigan and Minnesota.
(Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)