In somewhat of an unusual program, the state of Wisconsin has legislation in place that compensates hunters whose dogs are killed by wolves. Under the program in 2016, over $99,000 in payouts were handed out for the killing of 41 dogs- an unprecedented number of both payouts and dogs killed by wolves.
The wolf population in Wisconsin has exploded over the course of the last two decades. In the late 1990’s there was somewhere in the neighborhood of an estimated 200 wolves, whereas today, the Department of Natural Resources estimates there to be upwards of 952 wolves.
Hunting groups in Wisconsin are pointing to the record-breaking numbers to prove what many have been saying for many years – the wolf population in Wisconsin is quickly getting out of control.
The 2016 numbers reflect nearly double the previously-held records of $56,0000 in payouts for 23 dead dogs as was recorded in 2013.
While facing some opposition from anti-hunting groups, the statistics don’t lie and are prompting additional investigative work by Wisconsin’s DNR. In-depth studies are slated to identify the connection between areas where wolf numbers are increasing and where dogs are being killed. This data will then be used to conduct additional studies to determine how hunting policies and practices would play into the future management of wolves.
Wolves remain listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act and management authority is held by the Federal government. Federal listing status restricts state management, including any lethal wolf management tools. Currently, DNR staff use non-lethal abatement in response to wolf conflicts.