Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Wolf season in WI meets controversy

First Wolf season in Wisconsin meets controversy

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Joe Massimo, Opinion Editor
October 9, 2012

This fall hunting season, several Wisconsin sportsmen will be taking part in a unique event — the first modern-day wolf hunt in the state.

Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunt marks the transition from the recovery of grey wolves to wolf management, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Up to 1,160 hunters will have Oct. 15 to Feb. 28 to bag no more than 201 wolves in the state.
The first wolf hunt in the state has been met with marked enthusiasm, with almost 20,300 people applying for a license to hunt the once-endangered species.

Certain environmentalist groups, however, have shown clear opposition. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, said a wolf hunting season is a step in the wrong direction that could put the animals back in decline.

But, Wis. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said opening a season for grey wolves is one of the best things to happen for the species in a long time.

“The recovery of the wolf to being a harvestable species is a remarkable success story in wildlife conservation,” Stepp said. “It’s amazing to think that some of our hunters and trappers were children when the wolf was nearly eliminated from the landscape, and now will be part of hunting a solid population.”

While it may seem like an odd Cinderella story at first, the opening of a wolf season in Wisconsin shows just how far conservation of the species has come.

A generation ago, wolves had virtually disappeared from Wisconsin after years of state-sponsored bounty hunting, according to the Wis. DNR. It wasn’t until the grey wolf was given protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1975 that conservation measures were put into place.
By 2004, close to 373 wolves were living in Wisconsin.

Today, there are around 850 wolves living in the state and an estimated 3,063 in the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan areas combined, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The grey wolf has made a serious comeback in Wisconsin, and although conservationists and outdoorsmen should be proud of its return, it would be irresponsible to let the wolf population run rampant.

If a species of wild animal overpopulates an area, all sorts of problems for that species can happen, according to an Illinois DNR article. Disease can pass through the population more quickly, killing off massive numbers of a species.

Also, more are likely to starve to death from a lack of food in the area, especially during winter months.

If a species is left unchecked, those animals could die off in greater numbers than in any hunting season.

Opening a hunt on wolves will allow the Wis. DNR to keep the wolf population at a healthy level by culling the numbers in a controlled manner. Even for non-hunters, it’s easy to see how a wolf season will benefit everyone, wolves included.

The worst thing Wisconsin can do for the grey wolf is nothing at all.