The wolf hunting plan under discussion in the Wisconsin Legislature might be the best way to get the wolf back on the endangered species list, and would do nothing to reduce attacks on livestock and pets.
That's how Adrian Treves, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who has studied wolves -- and human attitudes toward them -- for more than 15 years recently summarized his view of t the proposed hunting plan.
Star Tribune photo
There are about 782 wolves in Wisconsin, about a third of the number in Minnesota. But the plan that is under consideration by our neighboring legislature would reduce them in a hurry.
According to the initial draft, of the bill, the season would run from mid-October to the end of February.Hunters could use bows, crossbows, guns, bait, dogs, electronic calls, cable restraint and leg hold traps. Night hunting would be allowed after the deer season ends in November.
Compare that to the plan that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has proposed for Minnesota's 3,000 wolves: A limited season that would start after deer hunting closed at the end of November, and a total take the first year of 400 wolves. A limited number of licenses would be sold by lottery. That, too, is under discussion at the Minnesota legislature. But so far no one has proposed a plan as extreme as Wisconsin's.
In his testimony, Treves said that exposing wolves to such a long season, much longer than the coyote hunting season, and across such a broad area of the state risks killing too many. That means the federal government could put them back on the endangered species list. Nor will the plan control the animals that need control the most -- those that are attacking livestock and pets in only a few problem areas, he said. His research has shown problem wolves are a minority that hunt in highly predictable areas.
The plan is also contrary to what most Wisconsinites want, he said. He and co-researchers surveyed 2,320 residents of Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming — including both hunters and non-hunters — between 2001 and 2007. He found that the majority of those polled in Wisconsin supported a wolf hunt, provided it could be done in a way that reduces conflicts with humans and does not jeopardize the long-term health of the wolf population.
The proposed hunting plan does neither, he said.
I will venture two predictions," he said. "Opponents will challenge the bill at the ballot...
and in the courts."