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Updated 2/11/2022

WISCONSIN WOLF HUNTING UPDATE, from press release dated 2/11/22: "The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that following a U.S. District court’s ruling on Feb. 10 returning wolves in the lower 48 states (except the northern Rocky Mountains region) to the Federal Endangered Species List, Wisconsin is not authorized to implement a wolf harvest season. The DNR is reviewing the ruling to determine how it impacts hunters and trappers who purchased licenses for the Fall 2021 wolf hunt.

     "Wisconsin’s wolf population remains healthy and secure in the state. The department will continue its robust wolf population monitoring program to ensure the population remains healthy and sustainable into the future. The DNR will also continue working towards promulgation of rules and the completion of a wolf management plan to guide management decisions. The DNR is reviewing the decision to determine how it impacts Wisconsin’s wolf management program.

     "Other immediate implications of this ruling include the following:

  • Permits allowing lethal removal of wolves issued to landowners experiencing wolf conflicts are no longer valid. The department will contact permit holders directly.

  • The department is not authorized to use lethal control as part of its conflict management program. Non-lethal tools remain available.

  • The training of dogs to track and trail wolves is not allowed. Dog hunters may no longer pursue wolves for training purposes. [emphasis ours]

     "The DNR remains committed to assisting individuals that experience conflicts with wolves through an interagency cooperative agreement with USDA-Wildlife Services for abatement and control. If you suspect wolves in the depredation of livestock, pets or hunting dogs, or if wolves are exhibiting threatening or dangerous behavior, contact USDA-Wildlife Services staff immediately. If in northern Wisconsin, call 1-800-228-1368 or 715-369-5221; if in southern Wisconsin, call 1-800-433-0663 or 920-324-4514."

Read the entire press release here.

BREAKING NEWS, 2/10/22: Federal Court vacates USFWS decision to de-list wolves and restores protections! "U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act." (You can read more about this story here.)

For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS judgment in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendants. The “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removing the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) From the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife,” 85 Fed. Reg. 69,778 (Nov. 3, 2020), is vacated and remanded. A separate judgment shall issue, and the Clerk shall close the file.

Wildlife advocacy groups said the judge’s order would most immediately put a stop to hunting in the Great Lakes region

Judge restores protections for gray wolves across much of US

Other news, 2/10/22: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC) final report to the DNR is now available. You can read it here.


UPDATE, 12/17/21 from Public News Service: "A Wisconsin court has effectively ended any chance of a winter wolf hunt in the state. . . . The court schedule indicates a final decision likely won't come until next spring, after the window to host a wolf hunt closes."

Next WI Wolf Hunt Blocked for Remainder of Season

Following a circuit court’s ruling enjoining the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from implementing the wolf harvest law, the DNR today announced that licenses have not been issued to state hunters and trappers for the Fall 2021 wolf hunt (which had been scheduled to begin on November 6th).

Dane County judge temporarily bars Wisconsin's wolf hunt, orders DNR to set quota of zero wolves

     WI DNR Wolf Hunting and Trapping website tells us: "The DNR is currently reviewing the court-ordered injunction of the 2021 Fall wolf season, including issuing wolf harvest licenses. Wolf harvest applications will remain in their submitted status until further notice. We thank you for your patience."

There has been so much going on with the WI Wolf Hunt this year, it is difficult to keep up with everything. Despite the The Natural Resources Board deciding the quota would be 300 wolves, the DNR set the quota at 130 -- causing quite a bit of controversy. There have been a number of lawsuits, also, including the one referenced above which stated that "the agency failed to adopt a permanent rule enforcing the law and update its wolf management plan."

     Meanwhile, in accordance with the court order and the department’s ongoing plans, the DNR will continue working towards promulgation of rules and the completion of a wolf management plan to guide management decisions.

     If you are following the process, here are some links that might be of interest:

 pawprint bullet point   Public input on wolf harvest season, May 2021 (pdf)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   Wolf Harvest Advisory Committee Minutes (6/22/21)   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point   2021 Wolf Harvest Advisory Committee Public Comments   pawprint bullet point

 pawprint bullet point  WI DNR Wolf Hunting and Trapping    pawprint bullet point   Natural Resources Board    pawprint bullet point


A Wisconsin wolf On 30 March 2016, Gov. Scott Walker signed 2015 assembly Bill 700 into law. The now- 2015 WI Act 285 states that when wolves are no longer listed as endangered: "The department shall establish a single annual open season for both hunting and trapping wolves that begins on the first Saturday in November of each year and ends on the last day of February of the following year."

     One of the last acts of the Trump administration was to delist wolves in January 2021. Citing the above law, hunting groups demanded that the DNR immediately allow the hunting of WI wolves. An emergency meeting of the DNR's Natural Resources Board, a panel of seven citizens, was called for January 22. After reviewing more than 1,400 written comments and hearing from 41 people in remote testimony, the Board voted 4 - 3 NOT to hold a February hunt. (For an interesting article detailing this public hearing, please see: 'These are our brothers'.)

     Our relief was short-lived, though; almost immediately a Kanasa-based group filed a lawsuit to force the hunt to go forward despite the overwhelming opposition voiced by WI citizens. A judge found in favor of the hunters, an appeal by the DNR was refused, and the hunt began on Feb. 22 and officially ended at 3 p.m. Feb 24. A total of 218 wolves were reported killed, exceeding the 119 quota by 99 wolves, or 83%.

     According to the DNR February 2021 Wolf Season Report, "The application period for either a preference point or harvest license began at 12:01 a.m. Feb.16 and concluded a t 11:59 p.m. Feb. 2 0. A total of 27,151 people applied for ither a preference point or harvest license Of these applicants, a total of 18,503 applied for a harvest license, and 8,648 purchased a preference point only. Based on the state harvest quota of 119 wolves, a total of 2,380 successful applicants (12.8% of license applicants) were authorized to purchase a wolf harvest license. A total of 1,548 licenses (65% of those awarded) were sold."

     Originally, the DNR sold around 1,548 licenses to kill 200 wolves "outside reservation lands" in 6 days during breeding season (lowered to 119; see paragraph below). Legal methods for killing the wolves includes trapping with foothold traps and cable restraints, hunting with the use of electronic calls, bait and with the aid of dogs to track/trail wolves."Hunters" were also authorized to use night-vision equipment, snowmobiles and other vehicles. A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal states, "the DNR sold 27,151 wolf applications at $10 each. The DNR selected 2,380 hunters and trappers (20 times the quota of 119 wolves) through a drawing. As of Tuesday morning, 1,486 licenses (1,465 resident, 21 nonresident) had been sold, according to the DNR. The cost is $49 for Wisconsin residents, $251 for nonresidents." See full article here.)

     Again quoting the WI DNR Wolf Hunting and Trapping web page, "The total harvest quota for the February 2021 season has been set at 200 wolves. Fifty percent of the harvest quota within the ceded territories has been reserved in response to a declaration by the Ojibwe bands. The resulting harvestable quota for state hunters and trappers is 119 wolves", broken out by Zone.

     "A total of 218 wolves were harvested by state license holders. Of the 218 wolves harvested, hunting acounted for 208 wolves (95% of total take) while trapping accounted for 10 wolves (5% of total take). Of the 208 wolves taken by hunters, 188 (86%) were taken with the aid of trailing hounds (emphasis ours), 16 (7%) were taken with the aid of predator calls and 4 (2%) were taken bystand/still hunting. Of the 10 taken by trappers, 7 (3%) were taken with foothold traps and 3 (2%) were taken with cable restraints." (Note that few trappers took part, citing the poor quality of pelts at that time of year.)

     These were the animals who were REPORTED by hunters. However, "the best-available science indicates that poachers and others may have killed at least100 additional wolves." (HSUS analysis of Feb. 2021 WI Wolf Hunt: A call to endwolf trophy hunting in Wisconsin(pdf)) Many of the 38 females killed may also have been pregnant.

February 2021 WI Wolf Hunt links of interest:

Feb. 2021 Wolf Season kills by zone -- 218 total:

  • Zone 1: Quota - 31; "harvested" - 53, CLOSED at 3 pm, Wednesday the 24th

  • Zone 2: Quota - 18; "harvested" - 45; CLOSED at 10:00 am, Wednesday the 24th.

  • Zone 3: Quota - 20; "harvested" - 43; CLOSED at 3 pm, Wednesday the 24th

  • Zone 4: Quota - 6; "harvested" - 7; CLOSED at 3 pm, Wednesday the 24th

  • Zone 5: Quota - 27; "harvested" - 31; CLOSED at 10:00 am, Wednesday the 24th.

  • Zone 6: Quota - 17; "harvested" - 40; CLOSED at 10:00 am, Wednesday the 24th.

     For more information, including wolf hunting regulations and zones, please see: WI DNR Wolf Hunting and Trapping. You can read the regulations for hunting and trapping here.

     According to an Associated Press news story: "The board estimates there will be one hunter for every 4-square miles -- versus the 10 hunters for every square-mile when compared to deer season. The reason they are allowing 20 times the permits for the wolf season is that the season is much short than other hunting seasons. They hope by allowing that number of permits they’ll meet their quota. Hunting permits cost $10; resident licenses sell for $49" and non-resident licenses cost $251. (Application for wolf hunting permits opens Tuesday, season to begin Feb. 22 (

     "Hunters have cited concerns that they may have a limited window to harvest wolves if President Joe Biden’s administration restores federal protections for the animal after he issued an executive order to review decisions made by the Trump administration, including the wolf's delisting." (Wolf Hunt Will Move Forward After Panel Of Judges Dismisses DNR Appeal)      


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