Why It Matters: Science-based wildlife management is a quintessential element of conservation success in America. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) supports legislative efforts that retain state wildlife management agency authority while ensuring that those agencies are following practices that are best for the state’s wildlife populations and the sportsmen and women that pursue them.
- Senate Bill 139 would require that in its final wolf management plan, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes a numeric population goal.
- Without a population goal, the DNR would be unable to determine in the future whether the management practices adopted in its plan have had the intended impacts on its already-recovered wolf population.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written testimony in favor of the bill, which has support from multiple Co-Chairs of the Wisconsin Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Senate Bill 139, introduced by Wisconsin Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Rob Stafsholt, would require the Wisconsin DNR to include a numeric population goal in its statewide wolf management plan (WMP). A common practice among state wildlife agencies across the country where wolves exist, including a numeric wolf population goal in its WMP would provide the DNR with an accurate frame of reference to evaluate whether the plan is achieving its intended goal of properly managing wolves in Wisconsin.
The DNR estimates that Wisconsin is home to roughly 1,100 wolves, which freely range into Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, creating a regional population of more than 4,000 wolves. This population – which CSF contends has fully recovered and should be delisted and under active state management – will likely continue its growth beyond what is healthy for not only the wolf population itself, but also the cattle, elk, deer, and other Wisconsin species that wolves predate.
Earlier this year, CSF submitted comments on the DNR’s draft wolf management plan and expressed concerns over the plan’s failure to include a numeric population target that the DNR could use to evaluate the success of its management practices. Senator Stafsholt’s bill, which fellow Caucus Co-Chair Representative Treig Pronschinske has co-sponsored, retains the DNR’s discretion to determine the practices through which wolves in Wisconsin should be managed, including by statutorily-required hunting and trapping seasons once wolves are inevitably delisted.
Through the robust network of legislators that comprise the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, CSF will continue to support legislation that reinforces science-based wildlife management while safeguarding the time-honored traditions that sportsmen and women have enjoyed for generations.