Wisconsin’s first wolf hunt, which is in its third week, may be ending at the end of November instead of at the end of February this year due to the unexpectedly fast rate of slaughter.
The state set a quota of 201 wolves in six zones for the season, issuing 116 permits to hunters and reserving an additional 85 for Chippewa tribes that may or may not be used. So far, 57 wolves have been killed, 32 of them in traps.
In August, Chippewa tribes from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan asked the Department of Natural Resources to prohibit killing wolves in ceded territory in the northern part of the state, arguing that the hunt “is biologically reckless and would be culturally harmful to Chippewa Indians, for whom wolves are culturally important.”
The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Fund for Animals have filed a notice of intent to pursue legal action to stop wolf hunts in both Wisconsin and Minnesota and to have wolves relisted under the Endangered Species Act, reports the Pierce County Herald.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put faith in the state wildlife agencies to responsibly manage wolf populations, but their overzealous and extreme plans to allow for trophy hunting and recreational trapping immediately after de-listing demonstrate that such confidence was unwarranted,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO for The HSUS, in a statement. “Between Minnesota’s broken promise to wait five years before hunting wolves, and Wisconsin’s reckless plan to trap and shoot hundreds of wolves in the first year, it is painfully clear that federal protection must be reasserted. The states have allowed the most extreme voices to grab hold of wolf management, and the result could be devastating for this species.”
Wolf advocates argue that the state’s management plan doesn’t take into account other threats to wolves, such as poaching or being shot by ranchers or farmers.
Minnesota set a quota of 400 wolves and issued 3,600 licenses. So far, 45 wolves have died there while advocates in the state continue to protest. Chippewa tribes have banned hunting and trapping on reservations altogether.
“I’m saddened and outraged,” Maureen Hackett of Howling for Wolves told the Winona Daily News. “If people understood how much this animal means to Native Americans and how much it’s tearing them apart that wolves are being shot for sport, they wouldn’t do it.”
An estimated 600 wolves are expected to be killed in the two states this year and the number has wildlife advocates both angry and worried about the future for wolves if the death toll continues to rise .
If you’re interested in finding other wolf advocates and attending demonstrations to speak up on behalf of wolves, visit Howl Across America.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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