Federal Wolf Control Approval

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on April 1, 2005, granted a special permit to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to trap wolves for scientific purposes and to destroy depredating wolves under some circumstances.

DNR officials had been allowed to kill wolves on farms with depredation on livestock after the federal agency moved wolves in the region from endangered to threatened status in April 2003. Federal court action in the State of Oregon on Jan. 31, 2005 invalidated the downlisting, making it unlawful for Wisconsin to use lethal control.

“This permit should allow the Department of Natural Resources and our partner, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services, to adequately deal with wolf depredation problems in 2005” said Signe Holtz, director of the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources.

DNR and USDA-Wildlife Services staff destroyed 17 wolves for depredation on domestic animals from April 1, 2003 until Dec. 31, 2003 and destroyed 24 wolves involved in depredation during 2004. USDA-Wildlife Services provides wild animal control services to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Wisconsin wolf population was estimated at 373 to 410 during the winter of 2003-2004. Department biologists again expect the wolf population to be at about 400 during the winter of 2004-2005. On April 15, biologists, technicians, and volunteers will meet in Wausau to analyze field data and determine the current wolf population.

Some of the specific conditions of the federal permit issued on April 1 include the following:

* The Wisconsin DNR will again be allowed to live-trap, tranquilize, radio-collar, and radio-track wolves for monitoring and research purposes.

* DNR will be allowed to attach electronic avoidance collars, or similar devices, to condition potentially depredating wolves to avoid livestock facilities.

* DNR and USDA-Wildlife Services will be authorized to trap and euthanize up to 34 wolves involved in depredation on domestic animals on private land during the calendar year. Such authorization will be allowed if wolves are likely to continue killing domestic animals in the area.

* Trapping will be allowed up to half a mile from the depredation site. Pups of the year would need to be released near the capture site prior to August 1.

Any wolf depredation control activities within Indian reservation boundaries would be closely coordinated with tribal natural resource personnel.