Wisconsin Votes for 300-Wolf Kill Limit for Fall Hunting Season

Graphic by Annabel Driussi for ODP

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

Wisconsin has voted to allow 300 wolves to be hunted this fall — over double the 130-wolf limit recommended by wildlife biologists. This news comes after February’s devastating hunting season, in which hunters killed 216 wolves in just four days, twice as many wolves as allotted. 

Why This Matters: This decision could have long-term ramifications for Wisconsin’s wolf population. While quotas have successfully prevented the over-hunting of wolves in Wisconsin, it seems that a rise in wolf population has encouraged hunters to begin culling them once again.

Wisconsin is not alone in disregarding the advice of experts when it comes to wolf conservation. Last year, the Trump administration removed endangered species protections from the gray wolf, even though the species had been protected from near-extinction for 45 years. Meanwhile, Idaho enacted a law that could allow private hunters contracted by the state to kill 90% of the state’s wolves

As apex predators, wolves are crucial to maintaining forest ecosystems, yet they have been hunted to near-extinction because they prey on livestock. When wolves were re-introduced to areas like Yellowstone Park, they restored vegetation, increased tourism, and brought a significant economic boost to the region.

“A Revenge-Driven Assault”

Conservationists and hunters have been bitterly fighting about the state’s wolf population. According to the DNR’s latest estimates from last winter, Wisconsin housed 1,000 gray wolves, much higher than the department’s goal (set in 1999) of 350. While conservationists worried about over-hunting, many conservative board members believed that because of the estimated “wolf abundance” determined by the state’s department of natural resources (DNR), they could increase the fall quota to as many as 500 animals. The board voted 5-2, nixing the 130-wolf hunting quota.

Paul Collins, state director of Animal Wellness Action, said: “What is being called wolf management in this state is a revenge-driven assault perpetrated by legal dog-fighters, trophy killers, disingenuous special interests and their anti-wolf allies in the state legislature.”

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