The Wisconsin Conservation Congress voted on April 14 to urge the state to develop a gray wolf hunt to keep population numbers within management objectives.
The wolf hunt resolution passed through the Conservation Congress by a vote of 4,848 to 772 according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is a group of delegates elected by the citizens of the state and serves as an advisory group to the Natural Resources Board and the Wisconsin DNR. The group holds meetings in each of the 77 Wisconsin counties.
The gray wolf, also known as the timber wolf, was taken off the federal endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) early last year in the Western Great Lakes region. That region includes the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Wisconsin officials estimate the gray wolf population in the state is between 500 and 600.
A gray wolf hunt will need to be approved by the Wisconsin DNR. Officials say that now that the measure has passed the Conservation Congress it will go to the Natural Resources Board.
According to officials, it could take several years for a hunt to take place as the Department will conduct further population studies and hold a series of public meetings to gauge public opinion before making a decision. If approved at that point, the State Legislature will also have to give approval.
Anti’s are working to stop the hunt. Anti-hunting group Defenders of Wildlife has voiced its displeasure for the plan and intends to ask its Wisconsin members to oppose the hunt.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) is currently representing hunters in a lawsuit brought by anti’s that will prevent the removal of recovered wildlife populations from the federal endangered list.
Anti-hunters sued the U.S. FWS in April of 2007, claiming it violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it removed from the federal endangered list the distinct populations of abundant gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. Sportsmen are concerned that the obstruction of delistings will prevent states from resuming rightful control of healthy wildlife populations.