Two Republican lawmakers from northern Wisconsin said Monday they would convene a Great Lakes wolf summit this fall involving public officials, scientists and citizens from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan to push for state management of wolves.
The legislators are calling for the summit in the wake of a federal court's decision in December 2014 that returned protections of the Endangered Species Act to the western Great Lakes wolf population.
"Our intent is to send a crystal clear, grass-roots message that it is irresponsible to ignore this issue any longer," the legislators said in a statement, entitled "Enough is enough."
Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) called for the summit, noting that wolves have killed or injured livestock or pets in 14 cases so far in 2016, according to Department of Natural Resources records.
The most recent example occurred last week in Shawano County when a young female cow ready to have her first calf was killed. The case "showcases the unfortunate results of a wolf population being allowed to run rampant in Wisconsin," Tiffany and Jarchow said.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. in 2014 struck down the federal government's 2012 decision to remove gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the federal list of endangered species. The suit was brought by the Humane Society of the United States.
The decision ended Wisconsin's wolf hunting season.
The implications of the court decision in Wisconsin, in most cases, lost its ability to use lethal means to address wolves considered to be problem animals.
Since the court decision, David MacFarland, carnivore specialist with the DNR, said the agency had relied primarily on nonlethal means to control nuisance wolves, including the construction of 19 miles of fencing, and the use of electric fences, sound and lights and posting guard animals.
"It's not that we are doing nothing," MacFarland said. "In fact we are doing quite a bit."
He said one wolf was killed last year by authorities in far northern Wisconsin with approval in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after the wolf was observed "getting uncomfortably close to people and was getting near buildings and barns."
MacFarland said that his agency would act to protect public health, but he also said that there were no known cases of wolves harming humans in Wisconsin.
The DNR reported that the April 2015 off-reservation wolf population was estimated at was 717 to 742 wolves.
Wolves returned to Wisconsin in the mid-1970s. In 1989, DNR biologists estimated the wolf population was about 80.
Tom Tiffany Looks To Fight For Wolf Hunt This FallMADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- A wolf attack on a Shawano farm last week was the last straw for two Wisconsin legislators who are aiming to host a summit on wolf hunting regulations in September.
12th District Senator Tom Tiffany is teaming with 28th District Representative Adam Jarchow to host a Great Lakes Wolf Summit in September. Tiffany says the summit will focus on a push for state-led wolf management.
"Wisconsin has basically become a sanctuary state for wolves with us not being able to harvest them, and it's time to reverse that. That's the intent of the summit," said Tiffany.
"Really, enough is enough. The judge from the east coast a year and a half ago took away management authority from the state of Wisconsin and it's time to bring it back here to the state and allow us to manage this."
Tiffany was referring to U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell. The summit will be open to the public, and Tiffany will have speakers lined up to present their case on the wolf hunt.
He said, "We want to bring in people with good science backgrounds, people that have worked on this issue or have been affected in a variety of ways. Cattlemen, farmers, law enforcement, there's a wide variety of people in society that have been affected by this issue. We want them to come and tell their story."
The summit will be a multi-state effort to motivate Congress to act on the issue on a federal level, something Tiffany believes that some members of the Federal Government simply do not want to do.
Tiffany said, "It's going to take federal legislation to accomplish this. This could be done very quickly if President Obama stepped up and agreed to do it, but he obviously does not want to."
"We're going to engage our fellow legislators in the Great Lakes states here, not just Wisconsin, but Michigan and Minnesota also, because they have the same frustration in those states, and we hope that this is going to be bipartisan."
The date and location of the summit will be released at a later date.