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Wisconsin wolf hunters exceed limits in 2 zones

The Wisconsin Gazette

State of Wisconsin officials are poised to close a fourth wolf hunting zone.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources planned to close Zone 5, an oval-shaped area in west-central Wisconsin, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. Hunters had killed 14 wolves in that zone as of Oct. 19, six less than permitted in the zone.

The agency has already closed Zone 1, where hunters killed three more wolves than the 32-wolf limit, and Zone 2, where hunters have taken 14 more wolves than the 15-animal limit.

In Zone 4, hunters killed four wolves, four shy of the limit, according to an AP story.

Zones 3 and 6 remain open.

The wolf-killing season began on Oct. 15 and will run until Feb. 28 or until hunters kill 150 wolves.

The hunting of wolves — as well as the use of domestic dogs in tracking the wild wolves — remains unpopular with many in Wisconsin, especially conservationists and animal welfare advocates.

Opponents of the hunt gathered at the Capitol in Madison the day the “season” began. Opponents of the use of dogs in the so-called sport said in addition to the many wolves killed, at least 24 hunting dogs have been killed since the program began.

Advocates for wolves and dogs announced on Oct. 15 that the Great Lakes Wolf Patrol, a coalition of citizen monitors from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and other states, would be patrolling Wisconsin’s wolf hunt and documenting the use of steel-jaw leg hold traps on public lands to capture wolves. They also announced that the GLWP would be investigating claims that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is under-reporting wolf mortality and failing to ensure the long-term survival of wolves.

Some of those involved in the GLWP were involved in monitoring the hunting of wolves outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. A statement from the coalition said, “GLWP believes that wolf recovery in the great lakes is still a work in progress, and that wolf populations in Wisconsin and Michigan while healthy, are still a fraction of what they once were, and what they could be again. Members of GLWP believe that the near extinction of gray wolves in Wisconsin and Michigan in the last century, was the result of our past misunderstanding and ignorance of the role apex predators such as gray wolves play in a healthy ecosystem. Yet, after only 30 years, Wisconsin’s recovering wolf population has seen a return to lethal control policies that are drastically reducing the state’s wolf population between 20-50 percent annually.”

When the activist campaign was announced for Wisconsin last week, 11 members of GLWP were operating from a base camp in northern Wisconsin. Matt Almonte of the patrol said, “We know the law, and although we are working to end the wolf hunt, we are not trying to interfere with legal wolf hunting. We simply are monitoring WDNR-endorsed wolf control activities on public lands with the intent of sharing that information with the public.”

The GLWP also issued a statement saying it supports Native American tribal governments in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan opposed to the trapping and hunting of wolves. Wolves and humans share a sacred relationship in the Great Lakes area and by allowing the hunt, the DNR continues to disrespect and ignore the concerns of indigenous people opposed to wolf hunting. “The least the DNR could do to regain public faith is stop dog-on-wolf hunting, stop wolf trapping on public lands and immediately enact a 4-mile no-wolf-hunt buffer zone around all tribal lands in Wisconsin.” said Almonte.

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