Study: After Federal Protections Went Away, Wisconsin Lost a Third of Its Wolves

Alarming news for wolves

Troubling times for Wisconsin's wolves.
Ray Hennessy/Unsplash

In early 2021, the federal government removed gray wolves from its list of endangered species in the contiguous United States. As a result, decisions about how best to manage wolf populations were left to state and tribal governments. That decision was not without controversy, and a number of scientists have asked the Biden administration to reinstate these federal protections.

What was the effect of gray wolves losing federal protection? A new study from Wisconsin offers some alarming statistics. A new report from a study at the University of Wisconsin reveals that the state’s gray wolf population fell by up to a third, as per an Associated Press report.

The scientists cited two factors as having contributed to this. One was a hunt in February that exceeded the quota set by local authorities by 82%. The other? Poaching.

One of the authors of the study, Adrian Treves, spoke out in favor of canceling the hunting season set for this fall. The study also addressed larger societal issues at stake, warning that “[t]he history of political scapegoating of wolves may repeat itself.”

Since the removal of federal protections, Wisconsin was the first state to schedule a wolf hunt. According to the article, both Michigan and Minnesota are considering scheduling hunts as well. The fate of wolves across the country is a hotly debated subject, and that debate is unlikely to calm down any time soon.

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