A proposed bill in the Wisconsin Legislature would end the state’s efforts to manage the Wisconsin portion of the Western Great Lakes wolf population and require state law enforcement not to take action in response to wolf killings.
The limitations would be in effect until the federal government removes the Western Great Lakes wolf population from the endangered species list. In early November, Wisconsin state Representatives Adam Jarchow, Mary Felzkowski, and Romaine Quinn, along with Senator Tom Tiffany, circulated a letter asking for co-sponsors of LRB 3737/1.
Under the proposed bill, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would be prohibited from spending any money to manage wolves other than to reimburse people for losses caused by wolves.
State police and game wardens would be barred from enforcing any federal or state law that prohibits killing wolves or relates to wolf management. The DNR would not be allowed to communicate with the federal government about enforcing wolf management laws or support federal enforcement efforts. However, the management limitations would not apply if the wolves are removed from the endangered species list.
In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in the Western Great Lakes area from the endangered species list, allowing Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to manage their wolf populations. Wisconsin held three wolf hunting seasons. In 2014, a federal judge placed the wolves back under federal protections, making hunting and trapping of wolves illegal again.
Wisconsin’s wolf population has been growing since the court’s ruling. The DNR released data in June that estimated the state’s population to be between 925 and 952 wolves, an increase from 2016 when the population was estimated to be between 866 and 897 wolves.
While the fate of this bill is unclear, Safari Club International has and continues consistently to support the delisting of the Western Great Lakes wolves and the return of wolf management to state wildlife authorities.