Wisconsin urged to end wolf hunting in wake of first statewide vote on the issue

The Wisconsin Gazette

Animal welfare advocates are urging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to stop the trophy hunting of wolves, in the wake of the nation’s first statewide vote on wolf hunting in the Nov. 4 election.

In Michigan, voters overwhelmingly rejected two wolf hunting measures, Proposals 1 and 2, with the “no” side winning by a 10-point margin and a 28-point margin, respectively. On Proposal 2, the “no” side received more than 1.8 million votes, more than any candidate who won statewide office, and prevailed in 69 of Michigan’s 83 counties. 

This was the first statewide vote on wolf hunting in any state since wolves were stripped of their federal protections under the Endangered Species Act, and since more than 2,200 wolves were killed across the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions over the last two years. The Humane Society of the United States is urging decision makers in Wisconsin to pay attention to this vote in Michigan, and see how regular citizens feel about the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves. 

The Michigan election results mirror public opinion polling. Wisconsin residents, by huge majorities, appreciate wolves and want them conserved. A 2013 Mason Dixon poll showed that 81 percent of Wisconsin voters oppose the trophy hunting of wolves, and 87 percent believe it’s unfair to trap, bait, and hound wolves. 

Melissa Tedrowe, Wisconsin state director for The HSUS, said in a news release, “Michiganders have sent a clear message that it makes no sense to kill wolves for trophies and fur pelts, and Wisconsinites agree. We know that the vast majority of our state’s voters consider wolves an important asset that should be protected for future generations, not trapped, baited or chased down by packs of dogs. Wisconsin’s decision-makers should manage wolves for the entire public, not just for the few who trump up charges against wolves and wrongly demonize them.”

Because of the quotas set on Wisconsin’s wolves since 2012, the population has rapidly declined. Between 2013 and 2014, in just one hunting season alone17 entire Wisconsin wolf packs disappeared, and the population declined by 19 percent. This season, the DNR issued 1,500 hunting permits to trophy hunters to kill 150 wolves. Less than one week into the hunt, four of the six zones closed, with half of those zones exceeding their quotas. 

Scientists widely concur that wolves keep local ecosystems healthy and balanced while posing minimal threat.  According to the government’s own data, wolves prey on miniscule numbers of livestock, even less if simple precautions are taken.  Moreover, Wisconsin’s DNR allows people to selectively remove any wolf that poses a known threat to livestock or pets.