Wisconsin Loses 9 Wolves During Deer Season

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State and federal wildlife officials report nine wolves were shot in separate incidents during the recent Wisconsin gun deer hunting seasons and that a $4,000 reward fund has been established for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the incidents.

The reward is being offered by the Timber Wolf Alliance of Ashland, Defenders of Wildlife of Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anyone with information on these wolf shootings can call the DNR Tip Hotline, 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367), or the federal government at (920-866-1750). Local Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents are investigating the shootings.

State officials estimate Wisconsin had a 2005-2006 over-winter population of 465 to 502 wolves, and they are expecting numbers to be similar or perhaps slightly higher for the winter 2006-2007. Wolves began repopulating Wisconsin in the mid 1980s, dispersing into Wisconsin from Minnesota and Michigan on their own.

"This is the highest recorded number of wolves killed in Wisconsin during the gun deer season," says Adrian Wydeven, a mammalian ecologist with the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources.

The highest number of wolves killed in prior deer seasons was five in 2002. In 2005, two wolves were detected killed and in 2004 one was shot.

Wolves are listed as protected wild animals by the State of Wisconsin, but continue to be listed as Endangered under federal law. In March 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a process to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region from the federal list of endangered and threatened species, and return management authority to the states. The federal delisting process is expected to be completed by early 2007, but wolves would continue to be protected animals in Wisconsin.