Anger from Native American and animal rights groups as Wisconsin hunters kill 216 wolves

Graig Graziosi
·2 min read
FILE - This July 16, 2004, file photo, shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. Wildlife advocates are urging Colorado officials to streamline planning for reintroducing the gray wolf. They argue the launch of an overly bureaucratic process will frustrate the intent of voters who approved reintroduction by the end of 2023. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File) (AP)
FILE - This July 16, 2004, file photo, shows a gray wolf at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn. Wildlife advocates are urging Colorado officials to streamline planning for reintroducing the gray wolf. They argue the launch of an overly bureaucratic process will frustrate the intent of voters who approved reintroduction by the end of 2023. (AP Photo/Dawn Villella, File) (AP)

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources ended its grey wolf hunting season early after hunters and trappers in the state killed 216 wolves over the weekend.

That number is 82 per cent higher than the state's set quota for wolf hunts for the entire season.

All of the kills took place over the course of 60 hours.

Department officials said they were surprised by the speed at which the kills took place, but said that the grey wolf population was "resilient" and "robust" and added it was confident it could manage the population going forward.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, most of the hunters used trailing hounds to hunt the wolves.

The department limits quotas to 13 wolfs per hunter, and sold 1,547 hunting permits for the season. That is twice the usual amount of permits sold for the season.

Native American tribes in the area consider the wolves sacred, and usually use their allotment of hunting licenses to protect the wolf population, rather than killing them.

A representative for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission criticised the overshoot.

“This season trampled over the tribes’ treaty rights, the Wisconsin public and professional wildlife stewardship,” the spokesperson said.

“Should we, would we, could we have [closed the season] sooner? Yes.” Eric Lobner, DNR wildlife director, said. “Did we go over? We did. Was that something we wanted to have happen? Absolutely not.”

In the past, overshoots have never exceeded 10 wolves.

Megan Nicholson, who works in Wisconsin's chapter of the Humane Society, decried the situation.

“This is a deeply sad and shameful week for Wisconsin,” she said. "“This week’s hunt proves that now, more than ever, grey wolves need federal protections restored to protect them from short-sighted and lethal state management.”

Recent changes to local and federal regulations protecting the grey wolf population preceded the overkill.

In 2020, the Trump administration removed the grey wolf from the Endangered Species List.

This year's season was the first to occur in February, as department officials were "forced" to open a season after a lawsuit challenged its decision to cancel the season during its traditional winter time frame.

February is the grey wolves' breeding season.

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