During the board’s meeting on Wednesday, officials with the Department of Natural Resources urged the panel to exercise restraint in setting quotas for the fall hunt, which begins on Nov. 6. They said they did not have enough data on the size of the wolf population after the hunt earlier this year.
“We have a small population, and regardless of whether you want more wolves or fewer wolves, from a biological management standpoint, this population is small, and that requires careful biological scientific population management,” said Keith Warnke, the administrator of the department’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division. “This calls for a conservative quota until we have more population data, more science, to back up our decision making.”
Animal rights activists said that holding two hunts in the same calendar year was uncharted territory and too intense.
“What is being called wolf management in this state is a revenge-driven assault perpetrated by legal dog fighters, trophy killers, disingenuous special interests and their anti-wolf allies in the state Legislature,” said Paul Collins, the state director of the group Animal Wellness Action.
Hunters contended that the state’s wolf population had swelled while gray wolves were listed as an endangered species, threatening farming and livestock.
“Hunters have been responsible managers of this population,” said Luke Hilgemann, the president and chief executive of Hunter Nation, the group that previously sued over wolf hunting. “We think it will restore balance.”
Marcy West, who was appointed to the Natural Resources Board by Mr. Evers, panned the higher quota.
“But the majority asked for zero,” she said of the public input on the quota.
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