Hunters Kill More Than 200 Endangered Wisconsin Gray Wolves in Less Than Three Days
Hunters in Wisconsin killed more than 200 gray wolves in less than three days after the animals lost Endangered Species Act protections last year.
The Trump administration made the decision to remove gray wolves from the list of animals covered by the Endangered Species Act last October, claiming the species had rebounded enough that it no longer needed federal shielding.
The delisting allowed state officials to manage the population of wolves in the area, including by lethal means such as hunting and trapping seasons. The 2021 Wisconsin gray wolf harvest season took place last week, with the Natural Resources Board agreeing on a harvest quota of 200 wolves outside reservation lands.
In a press release, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources explained that 119 wolves were allocated to the state, with the remaining 81 wolves allocated to the Ojibwe Tribes. However, hunters massively exceeded the state’s quota, killing 216 wolves in less than 60 hours.
As a result of the excessive killing, Wisconsin ended what was intended to be a one-week hunt four days early.
Under Wisconsin law, hunting season starts in early November and ends on February 28. Though gray wolves were officially stripped of their protections in January, wildlife officials in Wisconsin scheduled the start of the hunting season for November 2021, explaining they needed time to develop a ‘science-based’ harvest quota.
However, hunters group Hunter Nation accused state officials of ‘intentionally delaying the wolf harvest to give radical anti-hunting groups time to block the delisting and stop a hunt altogether’, The New York Times reports.
On February 2, the group filed a lawsuit and argued that under state law, the hunt should be scheduled immediately. Hunters referenced President Joe Biden’s executive order to a review of existing regulations and policies enacted by federal agencies under the Trump administration, and said, ‘There is a substantial possibility that Wisconsinites’ time to hunt wolves is limited.’
A Jefferson County circuit court judge ruled in favour of the hunters on February 12, ordering the state to start the season that month and resulting in the hasty arrangements.
Nicholas Arrivo, a lawyer for the Humane Society, said it was possible that the death toll of the season may actually be higher than suggested as wolves could have been pregnant or mothers to young, dependent pups.
He commented, ‘I think the actual death toll is considerably higher because of the rippling effects through the wolf family structure.’
Environmentalists who unsuccessfully fought against the hunt in court have argued that the killings occurred during breeding season, when gray wolves are especially vulnerable. They further argued that the fact so many wolves were killed in such a short space of time highlights the need for them to be covered by the Endangered Species Act.
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CreditsThe New York Times
The New York Times