Natural Resources Board sets wolf season quota at 275

MADISON (WITI) -- The Natural Resources Board approved the 2013 Wisconsin wolf season quota of 275, as proposed by the Department of Natural Resources, on Wednesday, June 26th.

The DNR says the quota was set with the intention of continuing to reduce the state's wolf population toward management goals.

"Wolves and wolf hunting seasons evoke a spectrum of emotions and opinions from people. This quota was set with input to try to balance many of the social interests in wolves with the need, and the department's responsibility, to manage the state's wolf population," said DNR carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland.

The DNR Wolf Advisory Committee is comprised of several groups including DNR staff along with stakeholders and partners representing the agriculture industry, the Chippewa tribes, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, sportsman groups, and statewide organizations with a vested interest in wolf management. Together they proposed the 2013 quota.

"Goals established in our current management plan are lower than our current population. The quota approved today will put downward pressure on the number of wolves in the state in accordance with the approved plan," said MacFarland.

The upcoming season's quota is an increase over last year's quota of 201. State hunters and trappers harvested 117 wolves during the inaugural season.

Wisconsin's current late winter 2013 minimum population in 809 to 834 wolves, which is similar to the late winter count prior to the 2012 hunt.

"It is important to note that this is the minimum number of wolves the state is estimated to have in late winter, at the point where wolf population is at its lowest, and just prior to the birth of pups," said MacFarland. "This late winter minimum count approximately doubles in spring of each year after pups are born, and then declines throughout the year."

If the quota is reached, according to MacFarland, it will result in an approximate 10 to 20 percent reduction in the 2014 late winter count.

"The committee has been working closely with University of Wisconsin researchers and, based on our best population modeling knowledge, we estimate the approved quota could reduce the population be approximately 13 percent, taking all mortality factors into account," said MacFarland.

The amount of wolves allowed to be taken by state hunters and trappers may be adjusted depending on tribal harvest declarations. The DNR can confirm the quota and total available licenses once that is determined.

The quota will then be distributed across the state in six hunting and trapping zones, identical to last year.

The wolf season is set to begin on October 15th and will run in each zone until the zone is closed by the DNR, or until the last day of February.

The deadline for license applications is August 1st. There is a $10 permit application fee.