Contributed photograph by Karl Baltus
Wolf management concerns were discussed at last week’s Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting. Laurie Groskopf from Wisconsin Wolf Facts and Mike Brust, president of Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, addressed the board.
10/7/2017 7:29:00 AM NRB hears wolf woes from the Northwoods
At last week's Natural Resources Board (NRB) meeting, both Laurie Groskopf from Wisconsin Wolf Facts and Mike Brust, president of Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, were present to discuss wolf issues and to provide the board with information they may not have had about problems with wolves in the northern half of the state. In locations without heavy wolf populations, Brust said, surveys had shown residents have a favorable view of wolves and think they are a positive animal to have in our state. For those who deal with livestock and dog depredations on a somewhat regular basis, though, he said, the picture was quite different.
"I'd like to point out one thing that (newly-appointed DNR) Secretary (Dan) Meyer pointed out," Brust said in his opening words. "And that is that the north is a hard place to make a living - and it is. And we have a problem up here. A huge part of the Northwoods economy revolves around deer hunting and the deer herd. I am here to represent about 5,000 of our active members and let you know about the impact of wolves on the deer herd."
He admitted the state's hands are somewhat tied on this issue of wolves, but he believed there were still things that could be done. One of those things, he said, was for the board to come to the Northwoods and listen to the people of the north, who are directly affected by wolves.
"Do wolves have that much of an impact on deer?" he asked. "Some people think they have very little impact, but I'd like to cite the department's own information in regard to this, to deer numbers, wolf numbers and the anticipated number of deer that each wolf takes."
Based on the 2015 deer population counts, he said, in five northern counties, wolves were harvesting more deer than hunters were in that same year. He stated while hunters were relegated to taking only antlered deer to help rebuild the herd, unfortunately wolves, he said, did not have to abide by the same standard.
"I was on the DNR wolf committee since it started, until it was suspended in 2015," he said. "I would like to see that revived as soon as possible. I would also like to say that I appreciate the department, including former secretary (Cathy) Stepp, who had the insight to invite user groups to that meting to help give information. We certainly didn't have a majority, but we were able to provide information to the DNR wolf committee."
He thanked the department for those efforts. He also spoke of the initial re-establishment of the wolf population. The understanding at that time would be that it would be limited to 8,200 animals in very remote parts of the state. Obviously, he said, that had changed. While he stopped short of saying the department lied to user groups, he hoped they would at least attempt to honor that original commitment.
"The first time I spoke to the Natural Resources Board was in 2009," Groskopf said when it was her turn to speak. "Here we are, years later. Nothing has changed, folks. Things have gotten worse on the ground."
The point she looked to make to the board was the need for "live bodies" to attend the various court cases and congressional hearings that take place regarding delisting wolves and returning management of the species to the states. This, she said, would go a long way toward the ultimate goal of once again being able to control populations that, in some areas, have gotten out of control. While a written brief was sent from the state in regards to the court case, her feeling was that having an in-person representative there would have spoken volumes and perhaps made a difference. She called on the board to advocate for someone to attend the court cases and congressional hearings that are sure to be ongoing until the issue is resolved. There are two bills before congress currently. She said Wyoming's chief warden and the Arkansas chief wildlife director were both there, but representation from Wisconsin was lacking. She called for voices from the state to be present when they could make the most difference in Wisconsin wolf management.
She also spoke to the deficiencies in the wolf count, and asked that it be made into a population estimate by incorporating techniques that are commonly used. Half of the county boards, she said, have signed a resolution regarding what they view as an acceptable wolf population for the state. She simply asked the board to take a look at those resolutions and to take that into consideration, hoping the state would send representatives as she had previously described.
The board took both Brust's and Groskopf's testimony under advisement, but it was unclear what steps, if any, would be taken or recommended, in regard to wolf management.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Sunday, October 8, 2017
Article comment by:
By using the reported deer population survey you state that in five Northern Wisconsin counties the wolf is responsible for deer fatalities which number more than hunter success. Does that factor in deaths due to CWD. Do you factor or consider that Law Enforcement agencies reported 20,413 crashes between car and deer in 2016 in Wisconsin. The wolf population is estimated to be 925. How many deer did the 40,000 to 50.000 coyotes kil? How many fawns did the estimated 20.000 bears eat or the 2.500 Bobcats in the Northern region of the state eat? How many deer were wounded by hunters and never recovered. But that does not matter because you are just talking about wolves. Fairness and integrity cover all aspects of life.
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