Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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State gets first of permits for wolves

Editor

Park Falls, Wis. The state DNR wolf program received on Feb. 28
the first of two permits needed to kill timber wolves that prey on
pets or livestock.

The second permit is expected to be approved by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS) this week or next week, according to
Adrian Wydeven, DNR wolf ecologist.

Federal Wildlife Services trappers pulled wolf traps in early
February following the ruling of an Oregon judge that immediately
returned wolves to endangered status. That meant the DNR had to
apply to the USFWS for two types of permits that would allow the
agency to trap and kill depredating wolves.

“The first permit is the type we used to get from the USFWS
annually for doing wolf work while they were listed as endangered,”
Wydeven said. “We always had to get that permit, which allowed us
to trap, handle, and translocate wolves. That permit does give us
some limited authority to euthanize returning depredators.”

That permit, which the DNR received last month, allows the DNR
to kill up to eight depredating wolves per year, but only after
damage has occurred once and the wolves are captured on a return
raid.

The DNR is working with the USFWS right now to get a broader
permit.

“That one allows us to euthanize wolves when we get any kind of
depredation,” Wydeven said. “The USFWS has to do some analysis and
come up with a biological opinion. That permit would allow us
euthanize on first-time depredation, but might be limited to 25 or
30 animals.”

The DNR applied for both permits after the Oregon ruling.

Wildlife Services has not trapped since receiving the first
permit. Wydeven said there has been no “significant trapping
situation” recently.

“The last significant situation was east of Merrill with
depredation at the end of December on livestock,” he said. “It
appeared the wolf was returning still in January, but since then
the wolf has not been seen in the area.”

A horse was injured by wolves near Hayward, and the owner had to
euthanize the horse, but there is now no indication that wolves are
around that farm.

“If we see evidence of their return, Wildlife Services could
start trapping there,” Wydeven said.

In the meantime, the DNR is working with the USFWS to set up
Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan as a separate Distinct
Population Segment for timber wolves. If that happens, judges might
be willing to relax the wolf status in the northern Midwest.

“It sounds like, even reading through the court documents, that
there is no question about wolves being recovered in Great Lakes
region,” Wydeven said.

Ron Refsnider, of the USFWS in Fort Snelling, Minn., said the
agency has not yet appealed the Oregon ruling.

“As long as there is a decision pending in the Vermont lawsuit,
we probably won’t make a decision to appeal Oregon,” he said. “We
will wait at least a couple weeks. If we also lose in Vermont, we
will decide where to appeal. If we win in Vermont, we will be on
stronger footing.”

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