Court grants Kansas trophy hunters’ request to open season on Wisconsin wolves​

By on February 11, 2021 with 14 Comments

A ​state court has granted a Kansas-based trophy hunting group’s request for a wolf hunt in Wisconsin for the remaining weeks of February. It’s a terrible decision that could result in the slaughter of hundreds of wolves in a matter of weeks, including by such cruel methods as trapping and hounding, during their breeding season. ​​And it proves that now, more than ever, gray wolves need federal protections restored to protect them from short-sighted and lethal state management—an outcome we’re fighting for in federal court.

The ​trophy hunting group filed its lawsuit last week after Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board decided not to hold an early 2021 wolf hunt. Our legal team, joined by allied organizations, immediately filed a brief with the court explaining that Wisconsin law does not require the state to rush into an immediate hunt without due regard to science and public values, or consultation with sovereign tribes. Unfortunately, the ​court rejected this sound argument and instead allowed the hunt to proceed. The DNR has indicated that it intends to appeal today’s ruling, and we will support the continued fight to prevent a February massacre.

Even during a regular trophy hunting season, trophy hunting is devastating for wolf populations. Killing a single wolf can cause entire families to break apart and lead to young pups, still dependent on their mothers, dying of starvation or predation. The last time wolves were delisted, between 2013 and 2015, as many as 70 to 80 percent were killed in cruel neck snares and leghold traps. Neck snares are particularly barbaric and can cause a brutal and painful death. Additionally, a recent Wisconsin-based study found that allowing the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves can lead to an increase in poaching. But the February hunt ordered today—something that has never occurred in Wisconsin—is particularly cruel, as it would overlap with breeding season and when female wolves are well into their pregnancies. The last thing these animals need is to be in the crosshairs of trophy hunters.

​​The ruling today was an unfortunate setback, but we ​will continue the fight ​to keep wolves protected from those who would immediately rush to exploit them. In addition to suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore Endangered Species Act protections for wolves, which would stop Wisconsin from continuing this senseless slaughter, we also intend to hold the state DNR to its commitments to engage in a transparent and science-based process to rethink its badly outdated wolf management scheme. Wolf populations remain fragile across the United States. As ​this case illustrates, trophy hunting groups ​are fearful that our lawsuit will succeed in overturning the delisting decision and are getting more and more aggressive and vocal in their efforts to mow ​wolves down ​while they still can​. We are just as relentless in standing up for wolves, however, and we don’t give up.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. JT says:

    Does the “trophy hunting group” have a name? Why aren’t you using their names? Publicly shaming people on social media is a good way to stop them from doing stuff.

    • Marjorie Ackerman says:

      Hunter Nation. Quota has been reduced to 119 by WI DNR today. 81 moved over to tribal control & now safe. Several of us applied for tags & our names were drawn!!! Wolves saved for now. Idaho is making several proposals to create year round hunting in ALL zones. Idaho FWS. Proposals are an all out war on grey wolves!! DEADLINE FEB 25th to respond. PLEASE RESOND. Yellowstone wolves will be in grave danger if these proposals go through!!

  2. Mina Saremi says:

    there are billions of humans and only a handful of wolves in only a few places left on the planet. When left alone, they serve as part of the natural balance in our ecosystem. They also have potential as a natural attraction for tourism, from wild life enthusiasts who wish to learn more about them.

  3. Donna Vaughan says:

    I support the work of HSUS and other similarly aligned groups to save these precious animals.

  4. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Kämpfen Sie bitte weiter gegen diese Grausamkeiten die mit nichts zu erklären und zu rechtfertigen sind. Es ist ein Massenmord an Tieren die sich nicht wehren können.Der Mord gehört bestraft zu werden.Hört endlich auf sich an der Natur zu vergehen.Die wird mit aller Härte mal zurück schlagen und das ist richtig so!!!!!!

  5. AJ ElChaar says:

    Just read your article and have a few questions. What do Wisconsin’s wildlife biologists estimate the size of the state’s wolf population to be? Do they consider it healthy and growing or do they consider it in jeopardy? Also, do you know how many tags or permits will be issued to hunters and trappers? Will hunting and trapping be the state’s department of fish and wildlife? It would help to have that information so we can understand the context of your op-ed.

    • Blog Editor says:

      According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the most recent minimum wolf population estimate is between 1034 and 1057 wolves. Under Wisconsin’s current wolf management plan (which is woefully outdated and more than 20 years old) the state plans on slashing its wolf population by 66% to an arbitrary and dangerously low goal of 350 wolves—a target that is not based on sound science and that even the Plan’s drafters admitted was invalid back in 2011, because the goal was based on disproven studies. For now, the Department of Natural Resources is moving forward with holding a wolf hunt during the next week, despite acknowledging that they haven’t had adequate time to consider stakeholder and public input. They’ve set a quota of 200 wolves, but as they plan to give out 4,000 permits, it’s highly possible that this quota will be exceeded and more wolves will be killed. This hunt is particularly cruel, as it overlaps with breeding season, when female wolves are well into their pregnancies.

      The state has asked an appellate court to issue an emergency stay of the circuit court’s order pending appeal. The HSUS and our allies support this effort because the rushed and unprecedented February season ordered by the lower court risks serious harm to the state’s wolf population.

  6. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Que notícia triste e lamentável. Não sei quem são piores, se os caçadores ou se quem concedeu o direito à caça…

  7. Sonia carrigan says:

    There is no need for trophy hunting just to place one of these beautiful animals on your wall! People are so selfish! Stop this cruel act and let them live their life just like you!

  8. Ashley N says:

    Gross.blood sports only encourage violence.

  9. Ineke says:

    No one should kill or slaughter a wolf …..!!!

  10. Janet says:

    Humana who kill for sport are certainly mentally ill and need help and why our beautiful wolves, shame on Missouri, shame on the lawyers that fought for this and shame on the courts.

  11. Barbara Hudson says:

    I used to be proud to say I was from Wisconsin but since Walker, Koch brothers, trump and the republican hold in our state legislators I am not proud anymore. This ‘hunt’ was no less than a blood bath. This is not trophy hunting or hunting. And who is proud to be called a trophy hunter? They are murderers that got a free ticket to kill. What a disgrace to this state and the majestic wolf. Please let science and the First Nations people handle the wolves. And how did we allow another state to strong hold Wisconsin? They have no right at all to file lawsuits to hunt here. Lets see what Wisconsin can hunt in Kansas????

  12. Mark Smith says:

    Like Environmental Scienctists have suggested hunting wolves during their breeding season raises questions on how it will truly effect the over all population. Remember poachers take too. In 1984 half the Wisconsin wolf population died from a virus. With wolves having only 20 percent of their original North American range shouldn’t we keep them protected!

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