Less than six months after Wisconsin wolf packs were left reeling after an unprecedented breeding season recreational hunt, state officials are pushing forward plans to kill hundreds more animals in 2021. Ojibwe leaders are outraged.
“The DNR Natural Resources Board made clear that its decision to set the wolf quota at 300 has nothing to do with science or stewardship,” said Michael Isham, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission executive administrator. “This reckless approach to ma’iingan management is why tribes have filed a brief in support of lawsuits that seek the restoration of federal protection for wolves.”
Wolves lost protection from the Endangered Species Act January 4, 2021, in the Lower 48 United States. Then in late February, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources presided over a chaotic wolf hunt that ended after only three days when sportsmen killed nearly 100 extra wolves, soaring past a quota limit set at 119 animals. Fresh snowfalls made for efficient hunting as many tag-holders used dog packs run down wolves across much of the state.
Now, despite calls from Ojibwe tribes to back away from ma’iingan hunting seasons, as well as advice from Wisconsin DNR biologists to set a more moderate fall quota, the Natural Resources Board demonstrated last Wednesday it is bent on driving down the state’s wolf population. At a meeting in Madison, the Board scoffed at its own researchers for recommending a 130-wolf quota, and considered a kill goal as high as 504 before settling on 300 wolves.
“It’s both frustrating and outrageous that the DNR Board is willing to manipulate scientific recommendations in order to deny tribes their share of a science-based quota, undermining Ojibwe tribes’ treaty rights and circumventing the process laid out by federal courts,” said John Johnson, chairman of Lac du Flambeau Band and Voigt Intertribal Task Force.
Ojibwe bands are evaluating their options and plan to respond with a wolf declaration shortly. For tribes, the best use of wolves comes in the form of live animals, on the land, helping to enhance and maintain healthy ecosystems.
Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission is an intertribal agency comprised of eleven Ojibwe bands in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Minnesota. GLIFWC works with member bands to both manage and preserve off-reservation treaty reserved resources. The Voigt Intertribal Task Force develops policy recommendations for GLIFWC-member tribes in the 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories. Ma’iingan is the Ojibwe Anishinaabe word for wolf. Please visit www.glifwc.org for more information.