Sunday, March 6, 2016

2012 Interview Echos Current Wolf Situation

By Mike Joyce Posted: Apr 01, 2012
Menomonie (WQOW)-  Just two months ago, killing a wolf in Wisconsin was illegal.  Fast forward to the present, Wisconsin lawmakers have called for a statewide wolf hunt beginning in October.
"It's funny how the wolf is either loved or hated," says Rachel Tilseth.

You can pencil volunteer wolf tracker Tilseth into the love category.  She's been tracking wolves in the area for the last 15 years. "There's a bunch of us that fan out throughout the state during the winter time to track wolves and to monitor their whereabouts," Tilseth explains.

She's one of 300 volunteer trackers that send their data to the DNR so they can come up with official state wolf numbers. Those numbers are way up, but Tilseth warns if too many wolves are targeted, other species will be affected. "A wolf is a key predator and once you save him, you save everything else in his environment," Tilseth says.  "The wolf acts as a steward of the deer herd.  It will push the animal so that it doesn't overgraze an area."

Tilseth says the state is moving too quickly and she has at least one lawmaker that agrees with her. "You can't go from being on the endangered species act one day to night-time hunting with dogs and spotlights the next year without people being concerned," says State Representative Brett Hulsey.
"They just went off the endangered species list in January," says a bewildered Tilseth.  "I don't think that's enough time.  I think we need to take a longer look at it."

So now trackers like Tilseth are trying to get the attention of those that can make a difference. "I have written the governor.  I have written to my legislatures, everybody I could get a hold of.  I would like to see the bill vetoed and if that's not the case, I would like more input on how the hunting occurs," she reveals.

Wisconsin lawmakers have approved the wolf hunting bill.  So now it's up to Governor Walker to sign off on it.  Two other issues many have with the bill center on it being legal to use spotlights and hunting dogs to hunt wolves. Trackers like Tilseth say if it's not vetoed, they would like to see those issues cleared up.

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