It didn't take long to harvest a near-quota of wolves in what was Wisconsin's first hunting season since the species was delisted.
Wisconsin wildlife officials have called an end to the 2021 wolf hunting and trapping season in the state after hunters and trappers killed nearly 70% of the state's harvest quota in less than 48 hours.
On the morning of Tuesday, February 23, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that three of the state's wolf management zones would be closed to hunting by Wednesday morning, and by that afternoon, the total number of wolf harvests had climbed to 82. That led the DNR to close the remaining three zones by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
A limit of 119 wolves was decided upon as the state's allocation, and an additional 81 harvests were "allocated to the Ojibwe Tribes in response to the Tribes' declaration and in accordance with their treaty rights within the Ceded Territory," according to the DNR.
That total of 200 was officially determined at the Natural Resources Board Special Meeting on February 15.
Wisconsin Wolf Season Ends Early
In two of the wolf management zones, wolf hunters and trappers had already surpassed the zone limits by Tuesday afternoon. From the AP:
They killed 21 wolves in a swath of northeastern Wisconsin, which was three more than allotted. They also killed 18 wolves in a zone covering most of the southern two-thirds of the state, which was one more than allotted.
Not long after the Trump administration removed wolves from the federal endangered species list in January, Wisconsin state officials started looking towards the first opportunity to hold a hunting and trapping season.
Originally, the first wolf hunting season was intended to occur in November, 2021 but after a circuit court order from a Jefferson County judge, the season was permitted to begin February 22 and end on February 28. The hunting advocacy group Hunter Nation sued for the immediate start, claiming that the new Biden administration could decide to reverse the decision and re-list wolves prior to the initially-planned fall season.
The DNR's wolf management plan still calls for a November wolf hunt in the state, set to open on the 6th of the month.
The wolf population in Wisconsin is believed to be around 1,000 animals statewide. Ever since they were removed from the endangered species list, and therefore no longer covered by federal protections, the management of wolves in America was given back to the states.
The Wisconsin DNR said that it "has successfully managed gray wolves for decades and will continue to do so under our state's laws and the best science available."
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