Appeals court denies DNR request to stop Wisconsin wolf hunt

A gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
A gray wolf is shown at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, Minn.
Dawn Villella | AP 2004

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Friday dismissed a Department of Natural Resources request to stop the state’s wolf hunt, which is scheduled to begin next week.

A Jefferson County judge ruled last week that the Wisconsin DNR had to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season this month. The DNR appealed that ruling, which came in a lawsuit filed by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of Hunter Nation Inc., a Kansas-based hunting advocacy group.

The appeals court ruled Friday that the order was not a final judgment, so the appellate court has no jurisdiction over it. The appeal was dismissed.

Up to 200 animals will be allowed to be harvested during the weeklong wolf hunt from Feb. 22 through Feb. 28. The permit application period closes at midnight Saturday. Results of a drawing for 4,000 permits will be available on Feb. 22 and the winners will be able to hunt and trap as soon as they purchase their license and print their carcass tag.

Wisconsin law required there to be a wolf hunting season from early November through the end of February if the wolf is not on the endangered or threatened species list. It was removed from the federal endangered species list on Jan. 4.

Last month, the Wisconsin DNR board refused to start a hunt before November, noting that Wisconsin's Chippewa tribes hadn't been consulted as per treaty requirements. But Republican state lawmakers raised concerns that President Joe Biden might restore protections for the wolves before then.

Supporters of the hunt contend the wolf population can withstand it and the wolves are a danger to livestock and pets. But opponents, including biologists and wildlife advocacy groups, contend the wolves, a native species to Wisconsin, have not fully recovered and continue to need protection so their numbers will not dwindle to the point of extinction. Native American tribes in Wisconsin have also registered opposition, saying the wolf is a sacred animal.

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