The Natural Resources Board today approved the 2013 Wisconsin wolf season quota of 275 as proposed by the Department of Natural Resources Wolf Advisory Committee. The quota was set with the intention of continuing to reduce the state’s wolf population toward management goals.
“Wolves and wolf hunting seasons evoke a spectrum of emotions and opinions from people. This quota was set with diverse input to try to balance many of the social interests in wolves with the need, and the department’s responsibility, to manage the state’s wolf population,” Dave MacFarland, DNR carnivore specialist, said. “Goals established in our current management plan are lower than our current population. The quota approved today will put downward pressure on the number of wolves in the state in accordance with the approved plan.”
The DNR Wolf Advisory Committee, comprised of DNR staff along with stakeholders and partners representing the agriculture industry, the Chippewa tribes, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, sportsman groups, and statewide organizations with a vested interest in wolf management, proposed the 2013 quota.
The upcoming season’s quota of 275 is an increase over 2012’s quota of 201. State hunters and trappers harvested 117 wolves during the inaugural season.
The state’s current late-winter 2013 minimum count is 809 to 834 wolves. This count is similar to the late winter population count prior to the 2012 wolf hunt.
“It is important to note that this is the minimum number of wolves the state is estimated to have in late winter, at the point where wolf population is at its lowest and just prior to the birth of pups,” MacFarland said. “This late winter minimum count approximately doubles in spring of each year after pups are born, and then declines throughout the year.”
Analysis of available data, review of published scientific literature, and use of population modeling tools suggests the quota, if reached, will result in an approximate 10 to 20 percent reduction in the 2014 late winter count, according to MacFarland.
“We want people to understand that meeting a quota of 275 wolves does not equal removal of over a third of the current minimum population,” MacFarland said. “The committee has been working closely with University of Wisconsin researchers and based on our best population modeling knowledge, we estimate the approved quota could reduce the population by approximately 13 percent taking all mortality factors into account.”
The quota will be distributed across the landscape with six hunting and trapping zones, identical to last year. The harvestable quota established for each zone concentrates hunting pressure more in areas with higher potential for agricultural conflicts, allowing for higher population densities in core wolf habitat where potential for conflict is lower.
Though the quota has been decided, the amount of wolves harvestable by state trappers and hunters may be adjusted dependent on tribal harvest declarations. Once that is determined, DNR can confirm the quota and the total licenses that will be available to state hunters and trappers.
The department will maintain the 10-to-1 license-to-quota ratio from the 2012 season. One half of available permits will be issued randomly among all permit applications and the second half will be issued through a cumulative preference point drawing. Successful applicants will be notified by letter, likely in mid to late September. Applicants who are not successful in the drawing will be awarded a preference point toward future drawings.
Those interested in obtaining a license or a preference point for the 2013 season must apply by Aug. 1. The permit application fee is $10 and applications can be purchased from authorized license agents, over the Internet through the DNR Online Licensing Center or by phone at 1-877-945-4236 toll free.
The season is set to begin Oct. 15 and will run in each zone until the zone is closed by the DNR or the last day of February, whichever occurs first. The department has the authority to close hunting zones when quotas are met or earlier if deemed biologically necessary.
For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “wolf.”