An effort to delist wolves in not only Wisconsin, but the entire Great Lakes region surged ahead in late December as the rule to remove the animal from the federal endangered list was published. As Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven waits for the 30-day challenge period to pass, talks of what Wisconsin will do when handed control continue. "We have a goal of 350 wolves outside of Indian reservations, which equals about 370 to 375 wolves statewide," Wydeven said last week. "At that level we consider a full array of control programs and when given authority by the Legislature, that will include public harvest." Wydeven said the sheer numerical goals are just one aspect of any wildlife management plan. "Other aspects include managing conflict, education, managing habitat, law enforcement, population surveys, research needs and plan coordination," he said. "Our biggest concern right now are wolf depredations on livestock and pets, and our initial focus will be to reduce these levels of depredation." And because Wisconsin woods are strewn with wolves, well above the management goal, Wydeven said, "We can be very liberal in control on problem and nuisance wolves to reduce conflicts, which will likely cause declines in the wolf population." The initial focus come Jan. 27 will be on reducing problem wolves. That includes looking at problem packs as a whole and other conflicts as related to a geographic area. Though the rule has yet to go into effect, Wydeven seems confident that it will get through without being challenged. "I think it remains to be seen if it is not legally challenged," he said. "But I [also] think U.S. Fish and Wildlife has done a good job using the best science and carefully applying the Endangered Species Act to delist wolves." Counts in Wisconsin have been targeted around 750 wolves, but the 1,000 number has been thrown around by many who say the DNR's count isn't close to being accurate. "Our counts are minimum numbers counted in late winter and is most representative of wolves of forested areas of northern and central Wisconsin," Wydeven said. "But we feel it captures the vast majority of the wolves in the state at that time. While not an exact count, which does not exist for almost any wildlife population, we feel it is a good index to the abundance of wolves." Wydeven said wolf populations normally double in the spring and level off much of the rest of the year. "Most of the year the population will be considerably higher than what we count in winter," he said. Looking toward the future, Wydeven said with a management plan in place, Wisconsin numbers will significantly decrease. With that, there is no guarantee hunters will see an improving northern Wisconsin deer herd. "We have not been able to detect any major impact on the deer herd," Wydeven said. "[Wolves] do kill deer, but also kill and displace coyotes, which can be major predators on fawns. "So if you could drastically reduce wolves to benefit deer, you might end up getting a lot more coyotes which would likely impact fawn. "I think the major impact of wolves on deer is to move them around more and change behavior so deer are more likely to stay close to dense cover." Doug Etten may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
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So, the state is going to farm wolves like it does deer. This will really put us on the map. There are millions of wolf advocates. Expect cheese sales to go up in California and Vermont.
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