Wisconsin says wolf hunting season will be held next November

A gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
In this July 16, 2004 photo, a gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
Dawn Villella | AP 2004

Wisconsin will resume its wolf hunting and trapping season next November after the animal is dropped from the federal endangered species list, the state announced Friday.

The Department of Natural Resources said wolf season will begin Nov. 6. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this year that it would delist gray wolves, citing thriving populations in the western Great Lakes region, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest.

The delisting takes effect Jan. 4 and returns wolves to state management, giving states the option to allow hunting.

Wisconsin law called for annual hunting and trapping seasons to resume if and when the wolf lost federal protection.

The DNR said Wisconsin has at least 1,034 wolves, mostly in the northern third and central forest region of the state. The agency promised to “work collaboratively and transparently” to create a new wolf management plan that sustains the population.

Wolves were wiped out across most of the U.S. by the 1930s under government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns. A remnant population in the western Great Lakes region has since expanded to some 4,400 animals in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The last time wolves were delisted, Wisconsin and Minnesota held hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014, before a federal judge again returned wolves to endangered species protection.

The Minnesota DNR hasn't decided yet whether to authorize a hunt this time. The agency has said it plans to gather the best available science and consider all perspectives before deciding on a potential wolf season. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz opposes a wolf hunt.

MPR News contributed to this report.

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