Wildlife Conservationists Say it’s a Symptom of a Broken System
July 19th, 2022
Madison, WI — Today, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said that they have no known date at this time for bringing forward the new wolf management plan, which still needs to be updated from the current 1999 antiquated plan. While the DNR gave no firm reason for this delay of the wolf management plan, which our organization helped to develop, we suspect that it might be another symptom of a dysfunctional Natural Resources Board and the sad fact the department may have to play hard ball with endangered species. We commend the department for doing a social survey and waiting until the process is fair, scientific and democratic. Wisconsin needs a new wolf conservation plan, new policies, and legislation to provide appropriate conservation for this iconic species.
“The Natural Resources Board should know its role – to oversee and ratify the decisions of the professional staff at the Wisconsin DNR and instead, the Board has hijacked wolf management in the past. We believe the board would not different at this time either. If they aren’t going to listen to scientists or citizens, and just special interests, it makes sense to hold on to a plan that will only be destroyed by those who wish to destroy the wolf”, said Melissa Smith, director of Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance and Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife.
The current wolf management plan is an outdated, unreasonably low, and unstable population number. A population of 350 wolves was chosen as a politically acceptable number in the 1999 Wisconsin DNR Wolf Management Plan as a threshold level, not a population maximum, and was to be reviewed every five years. That number was not based on an assessment of potential suitable wolf habitat.
Wolves are ecologically and culturally valuable to the Wisconsin ecosystem and tourism. Public support for Wisconsin wolves is high among both liberal and conservative Wisconsin citizens. A population of 350 wolves drastically reduces opportunities for wildlife watchers to observe, hear, or find signs of wolves. Some special interests say that a healthy and sustainable Wisconsin wolf population is not necessary. They claim wolves are a threat to human safety, livestock, or unfairly compete with hunters for deer. These concerns have been grossly exaggerated. This plan needs to be fair and comprehensive, not folklore.
It is important to note that both Michigan and Minnesota are currently taking public input on their wolf management plans.