Contact(s): Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore ecologist, 608-267-7865
MADISON - Following continued monitoring efforts, data suggest that Wisconsin's wolf population may have begun to stabilize and remains above established recovery goals.
Data collected by over 100 volunteer trackers and Department of Natural Resources staff during the 2017-18 winter reveal an overwinter minimum wolf count of 905-944 wolves [PDF], a 2.2 percent decrease from the 925-956 wolves detected during the 2016-17 count [PDF]. The number of packs detected increased slightly, from 232 packs last year to 238 this past winter. Wisconsin's wolf population had been increasing consistently over the past 25 years.
Wolves in Wisconsin 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.
"The Endangered Species Act did its job--its protections were instrumental in allowing this species to successfully reestablish itself within our wildlife community," said Scott Walter, DNR large carnivore ecologist. "However, the population has been well above established recovery goals for two decades and there is no biological reason for wolves to remain on the endangered species list. Federal delisting would allow more flexibility in dealing with issues like wolf depredation of livestock and pets and divert important endangered species funding and resources to the conservation of species that are truly at risk."
Wolf surveys are conducted annually during winter months, when snow cover affords suitable tracking conditions. The wolf population is at its lowest point during this time of year, so survey results are considered minimum counts. The population increases each spring with the birth of pups, then declines throughout the remainder of the year due to various mortality factors.
To view a summary of wolf monitoring information and to learn more about wolves in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wolf." To learn more about the volunteer tracking program and opportunities to participate, search keywords "wolf volunteer tracking." Classes for new volunteer wolf trackers will be held later in 2018.