Elk NetworkWisconsin Approves Wolf Management Plan Without Population Goal

General | October 27, 2023

Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It does not include a population goal. The previous plan, established in 1999, had a population goal of 350 wolves. Today, the population estimate is more than 1,000.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved with amendments the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) revised 2023 Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan and an administrative rule for wolves.

The board approved the wolf plan with an amendment to subzone 1B that allows the department to close any subunit if two wolves are harvested within that subunit while maintaining the four wolf subzone harvest limit.

The board approved the rule with amendments. The amendments allow landowners enrolled in the wildlife damage, abatement and claims program to restrict the use of dogs by hunters who have access to their land according to the public access requirement of the wildlife damage program. The board’s amendment also allowed the department additional flexibility on the timing of depredation compensation payments which would allow payments to be made as soon as possible.

The DNR began developing the updated management plan in early 2021 to align its wolf management strategies with the current state of the wolf population and the desires of a diverse public. The DNR collected and considered public input throughout the development process through various methods, including via the creation of a Wolf Management Plan Committee (consisting of 29 stakeholders from tribal representatives to external agency representatives), consultations with Wisconsin’s Tribal Nations and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), discussions with other state and federal wolf management in their states, and a 3.5-month public review and comment period which gave the public a chance to weigh in.

The DNR also held a public comment period and a public hearing for a corresponding administrative rule change (often called the Wolf Management Rule), which implements specific provisions of the Wolf Management Plan. The Wolf Management Rule codifies provisions of an emergency rule, EmR 1210, which went into effect on Aug. 18, 2012. It also implements recommendations from the Wolf Management Plan and updates regulatory text.

The NRB also approved this rule, which now goes to Governor Evers for final approval.

(Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)