Wis. Conservation Congress respondents support 350-wolf limit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Most of the respondents to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ spring survey say they support limiting the state’s wolf population to 350 animals.

The congress, an influential group of sportspeople who advise the state Department of Natural Resources on policy, holds a survey each spring gauging respondents’ support for a wide range of outdoor and environmental proposals. This year’s survey was conducted online earlier this month.

One question asked if the respondent supports limiting the wolf population to 350 animals. Of the Wisconsin residents who responded, 12,978 said they supported that number, 6,410 said they did not and 2,277 had no opinion. Overall, 13,136 respondents said they supported the limit, 6,633 said they did not and 2,326 had no opinion. The results are advisory only.

The question comes as the DNR is revising its wolf management plan. A draft is expected to be released by June.

The DNR’s current wolf management plan dates back to 1999 and lays out a goal of 350 animals. Wolf hunt supporters have held up the number as justification for higher quotas. The DNR’s latest population estimates, compiled over the winter of 2020-21, put the number of wolves roaming the state at 1,126.

The DNR’s policy board chairman, Greg Kazmierski, has suggested the new plan shouldn’t include any numeric population goals and instead establish metrics for determining whether the population should be reduced or allowed to expand. The DNR has adopted a similar approach for deer and bear hunting.