DNR wants wolf quota set at 201
Madison — If the Natural Resources Board approves the DNR’s timber wolf quota recommendation on July 17, hunters and trappers will try to tag 201 wolves beginning Oct. 15.
In order to do that, the DNR intends to issue about 2,000 tags, according to Kurt Thiede, DNR Division of Lands administrator.
Thiede said the $10 wolf applications would be available Aug. 1, with a deadline of Aug. 31. The drawing will be set up for early September.
“Provided the board approves this on July 17, we’re prepared to accept applications Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, with the drawing in early September and notification in the second week of September,” he said.
In working toward its final recommendation, the DNR had said it would consider a harvest quota of 142 to 233 wolves. The DNR also initially assumed a success rate of 20 percent and anticipated issuing about
1,000 tags. DNR wildlife leaders changed their minds on that point following public meetings and have decided to assume a lower success rate of 10 percent, which will mean that about 2,000 tags will be available for the Oct. 15 opener.
The DNR also reduced the number of harvest zones from seven to six.
Wolf permits will be valid statewide – not restricted to zones. If a zone closes, hunters and trappers may shift to another zone, as long as a quota remains in that zone.
Also, as a result of talks with the six Chippewa tribes and the Menominee tribe, the DNR will create five “no-harvest zones” that follow reservation boundaries of the Menominee, Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Lac du Flambeau tribes.
Thiede said the state’s six Chippewa tribes may claim up to half of the wolf quota in the ceded territory as a result of federal Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling in a treaty rights case that she decided in the early 1990s.
Because some of the state’s wolf population exists south of the ceded territory boundary, the final overall wolf quota will not be split in half, just the portion of the quota that covers the ceded territory. Thiede did not have a final number last week. He said the DNR is still talking to the tribes to see if they intend to claim a quota.
The DNR’s emergency administrative rule proposal also touches on a trapping and wolf damage matter. The DNR is suggesting that leg-hold trap jaw spread be restricted to 7 inches until after Nov. 30. At that time, jaw size could then be increased to 8 inches. Thiede said that provision is aimed at lowering the chances of a bear stepping into a wolf trap. Most bears should be hibernating by Nov. 30 when the larger trap size is allowed.
The DNR also is suggesting a change to the “missing calf policy” that’s part of the depredation rules. Initially, the DNR said it would allow farmers to claim an “extra” calf for every confirmed loss. However, the state’s cattlemen’s association showed the DNR studies that have found that up to eight calves can be lost to wolves for every confirmed loss. Thiede said the DNR will now allow farmers to claim up to five calves for every missing calf that is confirmed as a wolf kill, but those calves have to have been on the farm’s “roster” and have to be missing.
The proposed emergency rule will not cover the training of dogs to hunt wolves; that’s already covered in the state’s dog-training laws.
Thiede said hound hunters will not have to wait until the NRB approves its version of the emergency rule July 17 to begin training hounds – that provision already exists, and hound training is already open.
Here’s a summary of dog-training rules applicable to training on wolves:
- No license is needed to train dogs to pursue, track, or trail free-roaming wild wolves;
- No hour restrictions apply to the time of day when training may occur;
- Training dogs to purse wild wolves may occur year-round in most of the state, including during the entire wolf, bear, and deer-hunting seasons, but dogs must be on a leash not longer than 8 feet when on DNR lands from April 15 through July 31;
- Dog training may not occur in the Northern Restricted Zone (one-quarter to one-third of the state) during May and June;
- It is not legal to allow dogs to kill a wolf while training dogs;
- There is no limit on the number dogs that may be used in a single pack during dog trial or training activities. (Note: The six-dog limit created by Act 169 only applies to “hunting” wolves, and the DNR does not consider training to be hunting.)
This first wolf season will take place under “emergency administrative rule” provisions set by the NRB. A final rule is expected to be in place before the 2013 season rolls around. Board members will meet at 9 a.m. July 17 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Stevens Point to consider an emergency rule that includes the DNR’s proposed wolf quota, tag numbers, and zone boundaries.
NRB chairman Dave Clausen has noted several times that the season and most of the framework already has been set by the Legislature. That cannot change without further legislative action or a lawsuit. The board will – on July 17 – either approve the DNR’s quota, tag, and zone recommendations, or adjusted versions of such.
Clausen is expecting a large turnout of citizens who would like to address the board on this matter, and he has asked citizens to channel their remarks to the items that the NRB will be deciding that day.
Members of the public may speak to the board at the July 17 meeting, but everyone must register to testify by no later than 4 p.m., Thursday, July 12.
Written comments must be received by the same deadline. To register, contact NRB liaison Laurie Ross at (608) 267-7420 or via email at Laurie.Ross@Wisconsin.gov.
Written comments must be e-mailed to the Natural Resources Board or Ross at: Wisconsin DNR – AD/8, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.