Wisconsin Hunt Ends Earlier Than Planned after 216 Wolves Are Killed in 3 Days

The Wisconsin wolf hunt ended earlier than planned after 216 wolves were killed by hunters and trappers 3 days into the week-long hunt. 

The Wisconsin wolf hunt opened on Monday, February 22, and was supposed to run till Sunday, February 28. However, it ended 3 days earlier as the hunting quota ran out. 

The state's kill target had been set at 200. The state's Ojibwe tribes claimed rights to 81 of the animals as stated by treaty rights. The Ojibwe view wolves as sacred and were opposed to the hunt. 

The Wisconsin wolf hunt ended 3 days earlier after 216 wolves were killed. 2021. | Photo: Shutterstock

The Wisconsin wolf hunt ended 3 days earlier after 216 wolves were killed. 2021. | Photo: Shutterstock

Nontribrial hunters and trappers had registered the kills of 216 wolves by Thursday afternoon, almost doubling the 119 set for the nontribal hunters by the Department of Natural Resources. 

The hunt was initially called off on Wednesday afternoon. Hunters were given a 24 hour grace period to get out of the fields. Eric Lobner, the DNR Wildlife Management Director, said this about shutting down the season:

"It’s easy at this point in the game to say, yeah, maybe we should have closed it a little bit sooner."

Lobner explained that there had been so many unknowns going into the season. When 48 animals had been registered on Tuesday morning, the department announced the first management closure zones. 

Unfortunately, the total climbed to 216 animals. It is unknown whether the Ojibwe killed any animals. The department had decided the population could sustain themselves if the number of kills were between 200-220. 

Trump removed the protection in January, triggering the mandatory hunting season. 

February is breeding season for the wolves. So pregnant females are probably among the animals that hunters and trappers killed. 46% of the animals killed were females. 

Megan Nicholson, the director of the Wisconsin chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, shared her thoughts about the situation in a statement and said:

"This is a deeply sad and shameful week for Wisconsin."

She said that the hunt shows that the gray wolf needs federal protections to be restored to protect them from lethal and short-sighted state management—the wolf's status of endangered changes depending on the government

In 2012, republican Scott Walker signed a law that required the DNR to hold annual hunting seasons from November to February. Previously the hunt was held in November after the breeding and birth season. 

The Obama administration removed the animal from the endangered list in 2012. However, protection was restored in 2014. Trump removed the protection in January, triggering the mandatory hunting season. 

The season was shifted to the end of February as Republican legislators were worried that President Biden would place the wolves back in federal protection. So they rushed the season forward. 

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