Wildlife officials in Wisconsin announced earlier this month that the wolf population is booming, coming close to the state’s all-time high. Preliminary surveys conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) place current wolf numbers between 746 to 771 wolves, a roughly 13 percent increase from last year’s count of 660.

Wisconsin’s all-time high since the reintroduction was in 2012 with 815 animals. That unexpectedly large number led to high quotas during the 2013 hunting season, which has since fluctuated until 2015. Wolf hunting was very popular in Wisconsin—not unlike the several other states that have also recently held reintroduced wolf seasons—and was supported by both DNR biologists and rural residents. Despite this, a federal court ruling in December returned the species back to the endangered species list and halted hunting in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Without the hunt as a management tool, Wisconsin biologists say that the wolf population can be expected to grow another 10 to 15 percent next year. DNR large carnivore specialist David MacFarland told the Wisconsin State Journal that this boom is proof that wolves are more resilient than many people think.

“It does show that you can have sustainable harvest of a wolf population,” MacFarland said.

Before control of the wolves was returned to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in December, the DNR experimented with lowered quotas and a shorter season, which MacFarland said likely contributed to the higher population in 2015.

“We be­lieve that’s due to our hunters and trap­pers re­al­iz­ing […] that it’s go­ing to be a rel­a­tively short sea­son in their pre­ferred unit and if they want to go pursue wolves, they need to do so early in the sea­son,” he told the Rockford Advocate. “We’ll be look­ing at ways, if there are fu­ture sea­sons, to con­trol the pace of har­vest in a way to match up our legally-man­dated clo­sure pro­ce­dures with the pace of har­vest.”

Whether or not the wolf hunt will return anytime soon, however, is undecided. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is appealing the December court ruling to return control back to the Great Lakes states, which are also attempting the reverse decision. In addition, certain members of Congress are attempting to pass legislation that would remove wolves from the endangered species list.

Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

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7 thoughts on “Wisconsin Wolf Population Soars, Hunt Still Uncertain

  1. I wouldn’t call about 750 wolves being a huge number nor adding 60 to wolves as a huge increase in numbers. My Dad had a saying, “Figures never lie, but liars figure.”

  2. Is honesty a Wisconsin value?? Your sick state has massacred these animals back to near extinction, in any barbaric fashion possible. What is legal to do to wildlife in Wisconsin puts people in jail in the civilized world. We have not been back to our once favorite state since Walker unleashed the worst of Wisconsin onto it’s wildlife. We used to live in that state on the weekends. Leave these amazing and smart , and NOT dangerous to people families alone.

  3. When humans use the word ” harvest”. for other intelligent , family oriented lives.. we trash ourselves.

  4. Wow Kelly you really need a reality check. They are dangerous to people, their livestock, their pets (you have any that you take with you?) and there have been attacks on people in the US in the past year, you will have to dig, because people like you don’t want to see it or believe it. Get a few, just a few facts before you start blabbing about how wonderful these pests are. Sure hope the person holding that wolf’s tail washed before she touched her nose or clothing, don’t forget all the disease they carry – you can check out the CDC website for that one, there are over 50 . . . that is some fun reading for you.

    1. Amee-

      Stay by the TV- you wouldn’t want to miss any mini dramas. Your post doesn’t make any sense. This is all carefully orchestrated by “farmers” and “fake” hunters to create hysteria based on misinformation, lies, and nonsense.

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