In Wisconsin, wolf hunting is a controversial topic. Last year, it was allowed in Wisconsin for the first time since 2012. This year farmers and hunters are pushing for the season to happen again.
In 1830, there were an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 wolves living in Wisconsin. As fur trappers and farmers began moving in, the animals wolves preyed on started to disappear, and so did the wolves. The hungry wolves began to prey on the farmers' livestock, and by 1865, a bounty was placed on wolves for $5 a head. By 1900, there were no wolves left in the bottom two-thirds of the state. For the next 50 years, wolves were continuously hunted, and they disappeared by the year 1950. In 1974, the Endangered Species Act was passed, and US Fish and Wildlife listed the Timber Wolf as an endangered species. As a result of the increased protection, the wolf population in Wisconsin began to grow, and wolf sightings began to increase. Wolf packs began to grow, from four packs to over eighty in Wisconsin.
Farmers in northern Wisconsin started having problems with wolves. The wolves began to kill their livestock again now that the population had grown. Hunters were also complaining about how the deer and elk herd was starting to fall as well. In one year, a wolf is estimated to kill 17-20 deer. That can add up quickly with the wolf numbers in Wisconsin. Last year, in Wisconsin, there was a wolf hunting season in February. With more than 27,000 people applying for wolf tags, only 1,486 tags were given out by the DNR for the 2021 season. This late February season was cut short. In only a three-day period, Wisconsin hunters killed 218 wolves, which was about double what they were supposed to kill.
The 2022 wolf hunting season was canceled due to the lower numbers from last year’s hunt. Many people argue that there are a lot more wolves in the wild than the DNR has accounted for. The DNR keeps track of wolf numbers through tracking collars and trail cameras, but they do not have count of all of the wolves that are not on camera or collared. This year, Republicans fought hard to try and pass a bill to delist the wolves from the endangered species list, but it was shut down in court. For the following 2023 wolf hunting season, a similar approach will happen. Unless the wolf numbers have a very noticeable increase in population, the Republicans will be forced to push again for wolves to be taken off the list. If it is approved, there will be a drawing for the hunters who applied for tags. There will also be a kill quota similar to the 2021 season so that the population will not be permanently harmed.