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Give hunters a vested interest in delisted wolves

Give hunters a vested interest in delisted wolves Give hunters a vested interest in delisted wolves

Back on Oct. 29, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the gray wolves living in the lower 48 states was recovered and no longer in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Once again, delisting gray wolves has cleared the way for states management of the species; this will take effect just after the first of the year.

The Wisconsin DNR tells us between 957 to 1,573 wolves live in the state, with a middle estimate of 1,195 being the most accurate, comprising 256 known packs.

Of course, as pups are dropped this spring, that number will climb very close to 2,000 wolves, from which it will start its annual decline from vehicle collisions, territorial disputes, disease, environmental hazards, injuries while hunting, and other large predators. And, the powers that be claim a few even get shot illegally each year.

The USFWS estimates nationally 6,000 wolves live in the lower 48 states. Most of those wolves live in the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some Western states received protection from the ESA by legislation, and they have far fewer wolves in more area then the Great Lakes States.

More perplexing than that was the fact that, for two years, the Speaker of the House in Washington was Wisconsin Congressmen Paul Ryan (R) with a Republican senate and president who would have signed the same for Great Lakes states.

Just because wolves were delisted doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay that way. Wolves have friends – remember that. Just looking at the differing headlines from differing news sources announcing the delisting will tell you they have friends. Wolves represent big dollars for animal rights groups — tens of millions of dollars or more.

People don’t send the Humane Society of the United States tens of millions of dollars if they can’t somehow claim wolves are about to be eradicated from the planet. Removing ESA protections starts their erroneous arguments and threats of us hunting, trapping, and killing problems wolves is where it ends with swollen bank accounts.

They’ll say they need the money for the lawsuits. They have had these lawsuits ready since 2014 when a federal judge last re-listed gray wolves.

So, yes, several legal challenges are coming, carefully timed along with an aggressive fund raising movement by the anti’s. Because it’s mostly about the money for them. They have been successful in the past. They’ll probably also send Paul Ryan a gift box for Christmas for the rest of his life.

The DNR will probably aggressively deal with packs that have been causing livestock depredation issues. As far as hunting and trapping season — it’s a 2021 issue, even with the Wisconsin law from back when Walker was governor. The DNR is under the control of a different governor now and, either way, there is need of some changes to the season structure. First off — let’s point out the elephant in the room. The hound hunters have paid the greatest price with wolves, and they could become the majority of a vested interest protection group for wolves.

But, by allowing the wolf trapping season to start in October, coupled with the success trappers enjoyed, the people who drew a tag and wanted to hunt wolves actually saw wolf harvest zones close due to quotas before they could begin hunting. That’s not fair. The wolf’s fur isn’t considered prime in October, so why trap in October?

The conflict that the trapping caused to other resource users isn’t good for trapping in general – think Minnesota. I actually saw several large areas of prime grouse hunting habitat on public lands posted by trappers stating that they had traps in the area so bird hunters should beware.

Thanks for the warning. But what they were most likely doing is trying to scare bird and coon hunters away so the wolves were more likely to stay in that area.

The economic impact from wolf trapping will never, ever even come close to the economic impact that the state currently enjoys from ruffed grouse hunting. Unless we screw it up and create conflict — that will mess it up.

Start the trapping after gun deer season. Make the applicant choose a trap tag or hunt tag. Apportion both equally. Wolves could become the most desired species to hunt in the state if given a chance. They would be a worthy quarry, managed and protected by hunters as a vested interest group, like so many other species.

I wish you all a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!