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Wildlife Advocates Sue Wisconsin Over New Wolf Management Plan

— November 22, 2023

In its complaint, the Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance say that the Wisconsin D.N.R. seems to have privileged plans that would allow recreational hunting over purportedly more effective alternatives.

A wildlife advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit alleging that Wisconsin’s new wolf management plan overlooks both research and public comment.

According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Dane County Circuit Court. In their complaint, the Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance—also known as Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife—alleges that the state Department of Natural Resources prioritized feedback from favored interest groups, overlooking concerns shared by hunters, farmers, and small business owners.

If enacted, the D.N.R.’s plan could open the door for recreational wolf hunting in certain parts of Wisconsin—a move opposed by the Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance, which believes that other management techniques would be more effective in controlling the state’s expanding wolf population.

Attorneys for the organization say that the Wisconsin D.N.R.’s board members regularly and repeatedly attended discussions hosted by groups including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, the Wisconsin Association of Sporting Dogs, and Wisconsin Wolf Facts.

Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance members say that they were refused entry to several of these meetings.

“It seems that the rules are there for some and the rules don’t exist for their special interest groups that they work for,” G.L.W.A. Executive Director Melissa Smith told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Wolves. Representational image. Note that only grey wolves are extant in Wisconsin. image courtesy of Baptiste_lheurette via Pixabay,

The state’s 2023 Wolf Plan, adds Wisconsin Public Radio, aims to maintain a stable wolf population consisting of between 800 and 1,200 animals. It replaces and revises pans that set a target of about 1,000 wolves.

However, some industry actors—including large agricultural businesses and family-owned operations—have opposed further increases to the wolf population.

“People who live in wolf range, they, too, want the number of wolves we have, or more so,” Smith told W.P.R. “For us, it’s just—it’s clear the system is failing and [is] going to favor sport hunting, agriculture, and extractive industries.”

Wisconsin Public Radio notes that Alliance wolf researchers said that they had submitted studies suggesting that wolf hunting would be a less-than-effective tool for population management.

“It’s concerning that the science that points to management alternatives that would go against the agency’s preferred management alternative, which involves killing wolves at a particular rate, is missing from the plan,” said Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance wolf researcher Francisco Santiago-Avila.

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting the 2023 Wolf Plan from taking effect, as well as an injunction against any approved wolf hunting season that does not comply with Wisconsin’s meeting and procedure laws.


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Lawsuit claims DNR ignored science and public comments when drafting state wolf plan

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