Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Accelerated wolf harvest rate may reduce the season

In this undated photo, a gray wolf is seen in a wooded area near Wisconsin Dells.

Jayne Belsky via WDNR and AP

In this undated photo, a gray wolf is seen in a wooded area near Wisconsin Dells.

Thirty-eight wolves have been killed in the first two weeks of the Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season, according to a report issued Monday by the Department of Natural Resources.
The kill total represents 33% of the wolf harvest quota for non-tribal hunters and trappers.
The season opened Oct. 15 and is scheduled to run through Feb. 28 or until harvest quotas are met.
At the rate wolf kills are being recorded, the season could end by late November.

Twenty-one wolves have been taken by trappers using foot-hold traps; the others were killed by hunters using firearms. Twenty-seven animals killed were male.
The wolves were harvested in 21 counties, including six wolves in Price and four each in Bayfield and Oneida.

The agency also reported 769 licenses had been sold as of Monday morning, including six to nonresidents. The state authorized the sale of 1,160 licenses.
The DNR set the statewide wolf harvest quota at 201 wolves, 85 of which are reserved for members of Ojibwe tribes. Tribal leaders have voiced strong opposition to the state's wolf hunting and trapping season; tribal members aren't expected to kill any wolves.

Wisconsin had a population of 815 to 880 wolves at the end of last winter, according to the DNR. Wolf populations typically double after pups are born each year, then decline to an annual low in late winter due to various sources of mortality.
The season is the first regulated public wolf harvest in state history. The DNR's goal is to reduce the wolf population to a "more biologically and socially acceptable level."

With no experience managing the wolf as a game species in Wisconsin, DNR wildlife managers were unsure what success rates hunters and trappers would achieve. The relatively high success has surprised many wildlife managers.
Hunters and trappers are required to report taking a wolf within 24 hours of the kill. Two of the wolf management zones have reached more than half of their non-tribal harvest quota.