Saturday, May 20, 2006

Outcry ends plan to kill Wisconsin Dells wolf

JESSICA FRANK - Wisconsin Dells Events

Public outcry over a state Department of Natural Resources plan to trap and kill the so-called "Wisconsin Dells wolf" is prompting the agency to try to capture the animal instead. Adrian Wydeven, an ecologist with the DNR, said the plan is to capture the wolf with a modified foothold trap, tranquilize it and send it to the Wildlife Science Center, an education and research facility in Minnesota. But Wydeven said while there are at least two dozen traps set up around the town of Newport - where the wolf or wolf/dog mix attacked a calf and a dog - they offer no guarantee of capture.

"We haven't closed the book totally on euthanizing the animal," Wydeven said.

Frank Wendland, co-founder of the Wolves Offered Life & Friendship sanctuary in Colorado, is driving an e- mail campaign to save the wolf that has yielded thousands messages. Wendland said wolves provide for a balanced ecosystem, often attacking and eating diseased animals such as deer with chronic wasting disease. "They are not a disposable commodity," Wendland said. "They do have a right to their lives. ... They don't have to service humans to be viable."

Wendland said in an e-mail to supporters he's glad officials might spare the wolf's life , but he wants to know what the Wildlife Science Center has in mind. "We are excited that this is being considered as an option but are somewhat concerned about the fact that this is a 'research facility,'" he wrote. "We want to know what type of plans they have for this animal, if it is sent there."

Wydeven said the e-mail campaign is unlike anything he's ever seen.

Earlier this month, a public meeting was held in Wausau over a proposal to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of surrounding states. Only 40 people came to that meeting, Wydeven said. The wolf has not been spotted recently, he said, adding that the search will go on for a few more weeks. If the wolf still is not seen, the DNR will re-evaluate the situation, Wydeven said.

  • Wisconsin State Journal