20% Of Wisconsin Wolves To Be Killed After Court Sides With Hunters
Nearly 20% of all wolves in Wisconsin are marked for death after a Kansas-based hunting party wins an appeal.
This week's hunt represents a "huge percentage of the wolf population" during the breeding season that will decimate packs for "no reason other than thrill killing," said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action (AWA), in one Statement to HuffPost.
Due to the timing of the hunt, pregnant wolves are likely to be killed.
"You remove one, you destabilize and essentially kill the entire pack," Melissa Smith, executive director of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, told the Wisconsin Public News Service. “So we expect this to be quite detrimental to our wolf population
Wolves lost protection against objections from wildlife and environmental organizations in the last few days of the Trump administration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted gray wolves as endangered on Jan. 4 and lifted protection under federal law on endangered species.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on behalf of Hunter Nation, a Kansas-based hunting group, demanding that the week-long hunt be conducted starting Monday. Republican lawmakers also wanted to hurry because they feared President Joe Biden would reinstate protection, The Associated Press reported.
The DNR had planned a wolf hunting season in the state, only in November, long after the birth in the spring. Such a delay would give the pups time to grow and allow for a thorough assessment of the wolf population, public input and planning.
However, a judge on the Jefferson County Circuit Court ruled this month that the DNR had overlooked its duty to hold a wolf hunting season this winter. The appellate court then declined the DNR's offer to overturn that decision on Friday, ruling that "this court is not currently competent to appeal directly."
More than 20,000 hunters have applied for permits, DNR officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and around 4,000 permits are being issued for $ 49 each. AWA fears that well over 200 wolves will be killed as the death limit may have already been exceeded by the time the count is made.
Although the hunt is scheduled until February 28, it will continue until 200 wolves are killed. Adjustments to this number can be made pending applications from Native American tribes in the state with hunting or wolf protection claims. The DNR estimated that there were more than 1,000 wolves in 256 packs in the state.
Experts warn that the wolf population has not yet recovered and such a hunt could put the animals back on the path of extinction. Indian tribes, some of which worship the wolf as a sacred animal, are also against the hunt.
The state-resident wolves were wiped out by unregulated hunting, poisoning, and bounties in the mid-20th century. The species began to recover under increased protection in the 1970s.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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