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Shawn Clark column: New hunting seasons show progress

Aug. 29, 2013
 

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Soon the hunting season will be upon us, and many of us will hit the woods, swamps and blinds.

Few, if any, of the seasons that will open will be as controversial as the wolf hunt.

The state of Wisconsin had an inaugural wolf season last year.

The Department of Natural Resources recently shared details on last year's wolf hunt and here are some of the highlights:

More on wolves in Wisconsin: Wolf hunting news from around the state | Trail cameras capture wolf activity

More on hunting: Hunting headlines | 2012-2013 trophy shots | More hunting photos | Watch a rebroadcast of Deer Camp Live | Registration station map | Hunting blogs

Non-tribal hunters and trappers have been allocated a harvest quota of 251 wolves for the 2013-2014 Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season, according to a DNR statement released earlier this month.

The remaining 24 wolves in the statewide quota of 275 were allocated to Chippewa Bands as part of a tribal declaration.

The non-tribal allocation represents a 116% increase in kill tags from last year.

“In order to meet management objectives, putting downward pressure on the population, the number of wolves removed from the landscape needs to increase this year,” said Dave MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist.

Last year, hunters and trappers killed 117 wolves in Wisconsin, and the state’s wolf population remained stable or slightly declined. Wisconsin had an estimated 809 to 834 wolves in 214 packs in late winter 2013.

Chippewa tribes, which have strongly opposed the wolf hunting and trapping season, were allotted half the tags in the ceded territory last year but elected not to kill a wolf.

The DNR is managing the wolf population toward the goal of 350 wolves established in the 1999 Wisconsin wolf management plan. The plan is being updated and the next version may have a different goal.

The state held a lottery to select 2,510 wolf hunting and trapping license buyers from a pool of 12,108 applicants this week.

The season is scheduled to begin Oct. 15.

There are several things I'd like to point out here.

1. The quotas for the Chippewa tribe is down to 24. They should not be allowed any, if they are not willing to hunt them.

2. The state realizes and acknowledges the need to get the population down.

3. The number of applicants is telling, as proof that hunters understand the need to control the wolf population.

4. With increased wolf harvests, deer populations will benefit. Farmers who raise cattle should also be pleased.

So what can a person take away from this?

All of this means that after the first hunt, both the DNR and hunters realize that there are too many wolves, and are progressing in the right direction (so far) toward an appropriate wolf population.

Last year's hunt was a baby step and this momentum for this year's hunt seems to be picking up despite the cries of those who oppose the hunt. I believe that a continued wolf hunt will also help the overall health of wolves, too, as hunting seasons achieve with every species.

There have been other controversial hunting seasons in Wisconsin. The mourning dove hunt was implemented in 2002 and some people were pretty upset about it. They would ask question things like, "Why shoot the bird of peace?" or "Why would you shoot a little bird like that, there isn't enough meat on them?"

I believe that despite the hunt, the dove population in Wisconsin is fine. There is a 15 bird per day limit on doves, and very few hunters have ever reached their limit. I've hunted them and they aren't easy to bag. And doves taste good, if you have enough for a meal. It's comparable to catching bluegills. One or two isn't enough for a meal.

So to sum this all up, we've made a lot of progress over the last 30 years or so. In that time Wisconsin has added a turkey season, an increased bear harvest, early goose seasons, a mourning dove hunt, a wolf hunt, longer deer seasons, more deer tags available and youth hunts for deer, bear and turkey. And the recent changes allowing crossbows during the archery season.

Hunting season is upon us. Get out there and live it up. And remember to share your photos on this site at http://www.wisconsinoutdoorfun.com/section/share.

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