Wisconsin to Resume Wolf Hunting Season, But What About Minnesota?

It took decades for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to get to the point of removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in late October. But it took only days for Wisconsin to embrace its newly restored management authority by becoming the first state to announce the resumption of a wolf hunting season next winter as required by state law upon official delisting in January 2021.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources welcomes the responsibility of again managing wolves in Wisconsin. The department has successfully done so for decades and will continue to follow the science and laws that influence our management. All wolf management, including hunting, will be conducted in a transparent and deliberative process, in which public and tribal participation will be encouraged.

Wisconsin will pick up where it left off, updating a highly regarded wolf management plan that was in place until a federal judge intervened in 2014. The plan attempts to balance the concerns of farmers with vulnerable livestock, hunting and environmental interest groups and the imperative for a thriving wolf population.

The DNR will continue to partner with USDA-Wildlife Services to address wolf conflicts in Wisconsin…Until delisting takes effect, it remains unlawful to shoot a wolf unless there is an immediate threat to human safety. Following the delisting effective date, the DNR may implement all abatement measures as applicable to each situation, which may include lethal control.

Yet rather than welcome the return of local control to the state with more gray wolves than any of the lower 48, Minnesota’s top elected official criticized the decision.  Gov. Tim Walz opposes delisting of the wolf for “ecological and cultural reasons” as well as hunting, a tool his predecessor successfully used to manage the wolf population.

Instead of implementing Dayton’s plan, however, the Minnesota DNR is rewriting it, while downplaying the hot button issues of hunting and depredation on its website in the meantime.

 We recognize that the USFWS’s delisting decision will give immediate rise to questions about whether Minnesota will establish a hunting or trapping season for wolves. However, we want people to understand that wolf management is about far more than whether hunting and trapping wolves is or is not permitted in Minnesota. Our commitment to a healthy and sustainable wolf population in Minnesota is unwavering.

The gray wolf’s comeback across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is not only a tribute to the  Endangered Species Act at its best but also the agencies of every level of government working together. The question is whether the states now back in control can acknowledge their success and move ahead.