An official wolf hunting season will go into effect next year.
The Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that the official hunting season will begin Nov. 6, 2021. This follows the announcement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be delisting the gray wolf from the federal list of endangered species starting Jan. 4, 2021. As a result, regulation of wolf management is now in the hands of the lower 48 states and tribes.
State law in Wisconsin states that when the wolf is delisted at the federal level, annual hunting and trapping season for wolves must resume.
"The recovery of gray wolves is a triumph of the Endangered Species Act and stands as a testament to the cooperation of federal, state and tribal agencies, as well as other conservation partners working together to support wolf recovery," the Wisconsin DNR said in a news release.
As of the most recent data, the population exceeds 1,000 wolves, with most of those in the northern third of the state and the Central Forest region.
Once the gray wolf is removed from the list of endangered species, the DNR said, it will work to create a wolf management plan to ensure sustainable wolf populations into the future. Additionally, a wolf management committee will be formed, that will include government agencies, non-governmental agencies, tribal interests and conservation perspectives.
It remains illegal to shoot a wolf — unless there is immediate threat to human safety — until the wolf is delisted and the season begins. However, between delisting and the season, private landowners can shoot and kill wolves that are in the act of killing or wounding domestic animals.
"Although gray wolf management will be under state authority in early 2021, implementing a wolf season requires adequate time not only to develop a science-based harvest quota but also to engage the public and tribal partners in the development of a season plan that adequately reflects the interests of diverse stakeholders throughout Wisconsin," the DNR said.
The DNR will continue to work with the USDA-Wildlife Service for wolf conflicts in the state. If you suspect wolves in the attack of livestock or pets, contact the USDA-Wildlife Services. In northern Wisconsin, call 1-800-228-1368 or 715-369-5221; if in southern Wisconsin, call 1-800-433-0663 or 920-324-4514.