Wolves in Wisconsin

The League of Humane Voters-Wisconsin is opposed to a wolf trophy hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin.  We also oppose a population cap which is used to justify hunting and trapping of wolves.  No other species in Wisconsin has such a population cap.  

We support non-lethal measures and education to promote coexistence within rural communities and targeted lethal measures as a last resort. 


Governor Evers Vetoed Wolf population cap (SB139)


SB139 would have forced the WI DNR to put an arbitrary cap on the  number of wolves in Wisconsin that would then trigger and justify more killing of wolves.  There is NO other species in Wisconsin that has a cap on their population and there is no science that supports this.  Wolves manage their own population in Wisconsin without our interference.


Gray Wolves Win National Recovery Plan


WASHINGTON— Under a settlement approved today by a District of Columbia federal court, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must draft a new recovery plan for gray wolves listed under the Endangered Species Act. The draft plan must be completed within two years unless the agency finds that such a plan will not promote the conservation of the species.


"Seventh Circuit rules that Wisconsin's hunter harrassment law is unconstitutional"


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a Wisconsin law criminalizing the harassment of hunters violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The court found that the challenged law, which criminalizes actions such as photographing or recording hunting, fishing, and trapping activities with the intent to interfere, is unconstitutionally vague and does not survive strict scrutiny. The decision reverses the district court’s decision and remands the case.


Today the WI Natural Resources Board approved, with amendments, the WI DNR revised 2023 Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan and an administrative rule for wolves. 



The Wisconsin DNR will host two open houses on the Wolf Management Plan on 10/2/23 (Ashland) and 10/3/23 (Marshfield). Read the press release here.



 Wisconsin DNR released a revised draft of the Wolf Management Plan which is a major deviation from it's first draft as it now includes a population cap. 

Link here to see a historical timeline of the process and a link to the draft.


The plan will be presented to the Natural Resources Board in October.


"No ruling in Ojibwe wolf case, but judge expresses concern about state rules"

Federal judge ready to issue decision if injunction is lifted from 10/22/21 decision.


"Judge temporarily halts upcoming Wisconsin wolf hunt"

Judge Jacob Frost rules that both lack of permanent wolf hunt rule and a wolf management plan requires temporary injunction until the Department of Natural Resources can comply.


Despite the NRB vote (4-3) to increase the 2021 trophy hunt quota of 130 to 300 wolves, the DNR has announced the quota will stay at 130 wolves.  State licensed trophy hunters and trappers will be authorized to kill 74 wolves in six zones.  56 wolves will be under the care of the Ojibwe tribes within ceded territories.


Natural Resources Board increases DNR's fall 2021 trophy hunt

quota of 130 to 300 wolves on a vote of 4-3

Chair Prehn refuses to vacate his expired seat


WDNR is sanctioning another wolf trophy hunt this November

Wolf trophy hunters want to kill wolves twice in 8 months.

Based on recent research (see below) a minimum of 300+ wolves were already killed in February. 


"Hunting and hidden deaths led to estimated 30% reduction in Wisconsin's wolf population"

(link above for most recent UW-Madison research)


The Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC) met to decide the fate, once again, of Wisconsin's wolves.  The WDNR will take the feedback from this meeting along with other outside information and present it's recommended killing quota to the NRB in August.  They plan to trophy hunt again in November, twice within 8 months.  


"Bloodbath in Wisconsin: 216 Wolves "reported" killed, 97 over quota"

"Wisconsin's wolf hunt threatens to grow only more repulsive"


The killing of wolf families exceeded agency "quota" by 82% in two days.  One fifth or more of our beloved wolves in Wisconsin are gone.  Breeding season has just finished and any surviving bred females will be unable to feed/rear all their young without the alpha male and/or other pack members.


216 wolves “reported” killed as of Thursday at 3:00 PM out of a non-tribal quota of 119

53 percent were male and 46 percent were female

86 percent were killed by hounders

5 percent were killed by trappers

9 percent were killed by baiters and night killers

DNR Law Enforcement reported a “normal” level of violations

DNR Law Enforcement also said that they relied on “self compliance” from the wolf killers

This Wisconsin documentary film spotlights the use of hound hunting dogs to train on and hunt wolves, bears, coyotes,  bobcats, fox, and ultimately all wildlife in their path. (Link here)


Bear baiting
Bear baiting


Over 4,600,000 gallons of bear bait are dumped on Wisconsin's landscape from 4/15 thru bear hunting season in October.   Scientific research out of MTU suggests an increase in deadly encounters between dogs and wolves when bait is put down.





"Let us do things together"


Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Marvin DeFoe and the Tribe's perspective of Ma'iingan, the Wolf.  

"We're all in this together…blending of science and humanity can guide us in taking care of Ma'iingan."  

Following the 2011 delisting, Marvin attended the first state "wolf management" meetings and walked out each time. "Ma'iingan is free, you can't manage it."  


The Red Cliff tribe also feels that when you see wolves that is good; that means life is there.


Red Cliff Tribe, under the guidance of Jeremy St. Arnold, Red Cliff Ass't Biologist,  has written a "Wolf Protection Plan"  and will manage the habitat for the wolves:

  • Ongoing research
  • Trail cams
  • GoPro to monitor wolf kills
  • Telemetry & collars
  • Education in schools, social media, FB page

Voigt decision and it's implications for the wolf

  • ceded territories should drive expansion of buffer zones
  • consideration in shared management w/ state off of reservation
  • BIA and it's trust responsibilities in ceded territories


Wolves, Lone & Pack: Ojibwe Treaty Rights and the Wisconsin Wolf Hunt
"...the State initiated the wolf hunt despite tribal protestations, instigating the first break from cooperative management in decades. Both sovereigns have legitimate and conflicting interests and appear to risk their first major treaty rights litigation in decades…"
Ojibwe Treaty Rights.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 743.4 KB


Survival of Wisconsin's Gray Wolves from Endangered to harvested: 1980-2013
Stenglein UW-2014.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 5.1 MB



"...The state’s wolves breed from February to early March.  And it’s serious business. At stake is their very survival…70% won't live a year...Humans cause a lot of wolf mortality, whether there is a [wolf] hunting season or not…"


Hound dog training/hunting in Wisconsin
Hound dog training/hunting in Wisconsin


"...what we did document was a recreational hunt for wolves that involves an excessive degree of technology that in our opinion demonstrates unethical hunting and unfair chase. Primary to successful hound hunting is the use of vehicles in the pursuit of wolves. Hound hunters routinely hunt from their vehicles, something illegal in other big game hunting, and use cell phones to coordinate their hound hunting activities. This is not the only time satellite technology is used in wolf hunting with hounds.

A common component in hound hunting today is the use of GPS-equipped dog collars that allow hound hunters to follow their dogs remotely. While this is convenient for the hound hunters, what it also does is reduce the amount of time a hound hunter is physically monitoring his/her animals. This is identifiably the most controversial element of the hound hunt for wolves and one that GLWP believes needs to be monitored more adequately...


Great Lakes Wolf Patrol’s conclusion is that the hound hunting of wolves does not constitute a legitimate game management technique due to the high probability of unpreventable violent encounters between hunting hounds and wolves. It is inarguable, that the legal running of hounds in known wolf territory is leading to numerous death and injury to hunting hounds, and the use of hounds to hunt wolves only increases the liklehood of more violent encounters. There is also a recognizable enforcement problem when the hound hunting season for wolves closes, yet the hound hunting/training season for coyotes and other animals remains open, leaving it impossible to distinguish illegal hound hunting for wolves from legal hound hunting (or training) of coyotes."


Wolf family in Wisconsin - Photo credit: Jayne Belsky
Wolf family in Wisconsin - Photo credit: Jayne Belsky


Illegal kills are based on recovered wolves only.  One WI Biologist stated a  range of 70 - 150 wolves illegally killed/year.  See "Scientific Concerns regarding Wisconsin's Gray Wolf Population"; 6 biologists sent letter to USFWS.  Emergency re-listing recommended due to faulty data on wolf mortality and new unmonitored & unregulated threats (hound training and hound hunting) not listed in WDNR's PDM annual report to USFWS. For DNR daily killing report, link here.


"Public Attitudes towards Wolves and Wolf management inWisconsin"


August 2014


Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources has released it's much-anticipated statewide wolf survey.  



 A majority of residents in wolf range (clusters 1 thru 11) favor a population of wolves at present levels or increased.  Wisconsin's 2014 mid-winter count was approx. 660-687 wolves.  Cluster 1, Douglas County, has the highest positive attitude towards wolves.  Douglas County has coexisted with wolves longer than any county in this state.

WI Statutory Authority under Act 169 vs. DNR Rule-Making authority
The legal department of the DNR has attempted here to simplify the statutory law delineated in the "Wolf Hunt bill" (Act 169) and separate that from the rule-making authority issued to the WI DNR.
2014 Wolf statutory athority vs. rules.p
Adobe Acrobat Document 160.5 KB

Wolf Pups in North Western Wisconsin
This will nourish your soul; treat yourself :)
Credit: Rich Peet - richpeet@comcast.net
Rich Peet's wolf pups.mp3
MP3 Audio File 1.7 MB
A lone gray wolf howls
This wolf howls in the ancient oak/pine barrens of Wisconsin's North Western Glacial Lake ecosystem. The barrens extend from northern Polk County to southern Bayfield County and cover 1,900 square miles. This national treasure includes wild rice beds amidst vast marshes, northern hardwood swamps, northern dry-mesic forests, and oak and pine barrens.
Credit: Rich Peet - richpeet@comcast.net
Rich Peet's lone wolf.mp3
MP3 Audio File 1.3 MB

Years and years of WI's Wolf recovery all comes down to this?


We may have lost the battle but we haven't lost the war