Friday, April 10, 2015

Wisconsin #Wolf History

By Rachel Tilseth, the founder of the Wolves of Douglas County, Wisconsin

"Wolves occurred throughout Wisconsin prior to settlement (<1832) (Jackson 1961, Thiel 1993). Estimates of presettlement numbers vary, with the more credible being 3,000-5,000 (Wydeven 1993, Jackson 1961)."

"Prior to settlement, five species of ungulate were found in Wisconsin: bison, elk, moose, caribou and white-tailed deer (Schorger 1942, Scott 1939). All five species were potential prey for wolves (Mech 1970). Indeed, fur traders in the Wisconsin-Minnesota region between 1770 and 1830 documented wolf predation on bison and deer (Thiel 1993). By 1880, deer were the only wild ungulate species remaining in viable numbers within the state (Scott 1939)."

"Wolves were exterminated from southern Wisconsin during the 1880's (Schorger 1953). The last wolf in central Wisconsin was killed in Waushara County in 1914 (Thiel 1993). By 1930, wolves were restricted to less than a dozen counties in northern Wisconsin. By this time, sport hunters also favored a bounty on wolves because wolves were considered unwanted competitors for deer (Flader 1974, Thiel 1993)."

"The wolf population declined from an estimated 150 in 1930 to less than 50 by 1950 (Thiel 1993). Wolf range was also reduced to less than 10% of the state (Figure 1). The last wolf packs in Wisconsin disappeared by 1956-57, just when the state legislature removed the timber wolf from the bounty. The last Wisconsin wolves were killed in 1958 and 1959 (Thiel 1993)."

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's photo.
"Between 1960 and 1975 the wolf was considered extirpated in Wisconsin (Thiel 1978). In 1973 wolves were afforded the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. The Minnesota wolf population began expanding (Thiel and Ream 1995).

In winter 1974-75, a wolf pack was discovered in the border area between Wisconsin and Minnesota south of Duluth-Superior (Thiel 1993). By 1980, five wolf packs were found in Wisconsin: four in Douglas County near the Minnesota border, and the other in Lincoln County (Figure 2)(Thiel 1993, Wydeven et al. 1995)." From Timber Wolf Information Network and WDNR Wolf Management Plan 1999

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's photo.
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's photo. *note native bison, native elk, and native moose were hunted to extinction because trophy hunting was a popular sport & money maker for the state in the late 1800s into mid 1900s.
~Rachel

Photographs: Montana wolf drinking water, whitetail fawn by Dale Erickson and wolves hunting Buffalo in Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin's photo.