(4/29/14) Two seasons of wolf hunting have resulted in Wisconsin's first major decline in the grey-wolf population.
The D-N-R issued a preliminary report today, showing that Wisconsin had 658-to-687 wolves late this winter -- down from 809-to-834 at the same time a year ago. It's the first major decrease in the Wisconsin wolf numbers since the D-N-R started tracking the species' recovery about 35 years ago. The state had 25 wolves back then. The D-N-R's Dave MacFarland told a Wolf Advisory Committee meeting in Wausau today that last season's goal was to reduce "downward pressure" on the wolf population. Two-hundred-57 wolves were killed last fall, down from 117 in the inaugural wolf season in late 2012. In 1999, the D-N-R set a goal of 350 wolves. The population skyrocketed beyond that, and officials said they wanted to reduce the wolf numbers to a "biologically and socially acceptable level." The state was battling lawsuits to have the federal government keep Upper Midwest wolves as a protected, endangered species. The Obama White House found a way to declassify them two-and-a-half years ago, thus giving the states the right to manage their herds and hold wolf hunts. The Humane Society of the United States balked at that, and has filed suit to restore federal protections. That suit is still pending.