Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wisconsin DNR receives federal permit for problem wolf control

Spooner Advocate

MADISON-- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has received a permit for control of problem wolves from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The permit allows both the lethal and non-lethal trapping of wolves that are killing livestock and domestic animals.

A preliminary count of Wisconsin’s gray wolf population for the winter of 2005-2006 shows that there are from 450 to 520 wolves in the state. “The wolf population apparently increased slightly from last year’s levels,” said Signe Holtz, director of the DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources. “The goal of the plan is a healthy, sustainable gray wolf population. This permit is one of several tools we need to help us attain that goal.”

Wisconsin has had authority from the federal government to trap and translocate or use lethal control on depredating wolves in the past, say wildlife officials, but temporarily lost that authority while the status of wolves across North America was examined in the courts. The permit just issued by the USFWS limits Wisconsin to the taking of 43 wolves in 2006.

“The ability to remove depredating wolves is necessary in our efforts to address landowner problems,” said Holtz. “The state will use this authority to reduce damages caused to owners of pets and livestock from depredating wolves.”

Wolves currently are listed as a federally endangered species in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board reclassified wolves from endangered to threatened in 1999, and delisted wolves to protected wild animal status on Aug. 1, 2004. The federal listing takes precedence. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its intent to remove wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and parts of neighboring states from the federal Endangered Species list. Once that occurs, management of the wolf in Wisconsin will be guided by the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan.

“Delisting at the federal level is the next step in wolf management in Wisconsin,” said Holtz. “Once that process is complete population management will occur at the state level allowing more flexibility and additional management options.”

Information about the proposed federal action is available on the Internet site of the U.S. Fish and & Wildlife Service, fws.gove/midwest/News.

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