The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced it is seeking public input on the next 10 years of wolf management in Wisconsin. 

The DNR simultaneously will accept public comment on the fall 2021 wolf harvest season through the same online input tool.

Wisconsin recently held a wolf hunting and trapping season in February that led to a preliminary harvest of 216 wolves, according to the DNR.

The latest public comment period opened April 15 and runs through May 15, during which the online input tool will available on the DNR wolf management plan webpage at dnr.wi.gov.

As part of the management plan revision process, the DNR will convene a Wolf Management Plan Committee (WMPC). Ahead of summer WMPC meetings, the DNR encourages the public to provide input on the next 10 years of wolf management in Wisconsin. 

Following the public comment period on wolf management’s future in Wisconsin, the WMPC will provide input to the DNR for developing an updated wolf management plan. 

The committee will comprise stakeholder groups, including hunting and trapping organizations, wolf advocacy and education organizations and agricultural and ranching organizations. The DNR also reserves additional seats on the WMPC for invited tribal and governmental agencies, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and DNR technical staff support.

The DNR will write an initial draft of the wolf plan, guided by science and input from the WMPC and the public. The draft plan will be made available for public review and comment. The DNR will then submit a final draft to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) for approval in mid-2022.



Fall 2021 hunt


The DNR is also simultaneously working to prepare for a fall 2021 wolf harvest season through a transparent and science-based process. 

The DNR has convened a 2021 Wolf Harvest Advisory Committee to provide input on the fall season’s management objectives and harvest quota. The committee will consider the current management plan, state statute and the February 2021 season report in providing input to the department.

Throughout the process, the DNR will also coordinate with tribal partners and seek further public input on harvest objectives.

People can visit the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov for more information on the wolf management plan and the fall 2021 wolf harvest season.



February season


In the recent February hunt, the DNR closed all wolf harvesting zones to hunting and trapping of gray wolves less than three days after the season opened as the harvest quota was quickly reached with 216 wolves registered, according to preliminary figures.

Zones 2,5,6 closed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, and Zones 1,3,4 closed at 3 p.m. the same day. Zone 2 included Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties.

During the Natural Resources Board (NRB) special meeting Feb. 15, the board unanimously voted for a harvest quota of 200 wolves outside reservation lands for a season to run Feb. 22-28.

Of the approved quota, 119 wolves were allocated to the state, and 81 wolves were allocated to the Ojibwe tribes in response to the tribes’ declaration and in accordance with their treaty rights within the ceded territory. The NRB approved issuing 4,000 permits to meet the wolf harvest quota. There was no tribal harvest.

In Zone 2 in this area, hunters and trappers harvested 45 wolves, well over the quota of 18. Other zones were: Zone 1, 50 harvested, quota of 31; Zone 3, 43 harvested, quota of 20; Zone 4, 7 harvested, quota of 6; Zone 5, 31 harvested, quota of 27; and Zone 6, 40 harvested, quota of 17.



Hunt history


The U.S. Fish and Wild­life Service proposed removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act in March 2019. Then on Nov. 3, 2020, U.S Fish and Wildlife promulgated a final rule to delist the gray wolf effective Jan. 4, 2021.

The Wisconsin DNR announced earlier this year that they would hold a wolf hunt starting in November 2021. But Hunter Nation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting America’s hunting heritage, along with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), won a lawsuit against the Wisconsin DNR for not scheduling a wolf hunt season in February 2021.

DNR wildlife experts said they considered several factors in coming up with the quota recommendation, including the most recent population estimate of more than 1,500 wolves, the public response to earlier harvests, the current manage­ment plan and other research.

When the Wisconsin DNR was permitted to manage the gray wolf during a short-lived earlier delisting, Wisconsin held wolf hunting seasons in 2012, ’13 and ’14.