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Wisconsin takes over wolf management; problem areas addressed

From Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Beginning Jan. 27, the gray wolf will no longer be considered a federally endangered species in Wisconsin and other parts of the western Great Lakes region.

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources will manage the wolf population outside of tribal reservation lands. Officials said areas where wolves have attacked domestic animals will be addressed immediately.

"We are ready and capable of managing Wisconsin's wolf population at a healthy, sustainable level and we welcome the opportunity to begin addressing those areas where problem wolves are attacking domestic animals," according to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.

Wisconsin regulations will treat the gray wolf as a protected wild animal, which means DNR authorization is required before a person can attempt to take or kill a wolf. There are currently no plans for a hunting season on wolves. This would involve a change in state law and a public rule-making process.

Wisconsin's 1999 wolf management plan and a 2007 addendum to the plan will be the basis of wolf management in the state. The documents outline the conservation strategy for the wolf population and the approach for controlling depredation.

Landowners or those leasing land will have authority to shoot wolves only when wolves are in the act of attacking domestic animals on their land. They also will be able to get permits to shoot any wolf coming on their land if they have experienced wolf problems within the last two years.

Any wolf shot or trapped by a landowner or leaseholder must be reported to the DNR within 24 hours. The carcass must be turned over the DNR.

Conditions under which control permits will be issued include if a landowner has verified attacks on livestock or pets on their property, has vulnerable pets or livestock, and whose property lies within one mile of a property with a depredation during the same year.

Under the rule published by USFWS in December 2011, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment will no longer be considered either endangered or threatened by the federal government. The segment includes the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and portions of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.

With the federal delisting, states will be required to continue monitoring of the state wolf populations for the next five years. The department currently uses a system of radio-tracking collared wolves, snow track surveys and collection of public wolf observations to track population trends.

The DNR will continue to recruit and train citizen volunteers to assist with wolf management, primarily through tracking surveys.

During the winter of 2010-2011, biologists estimated a population of about 800 wolves in Wisconsin. The results of this winter's surveys will be available in the spring.

For more information, contact Adrian Wydeven, mammalian ecologist, at (715) 762-1363; Ed Culhane, communications, at (715) 781-1683 or Bob Manwell, communications, at (608) 264-9248.

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