Wolf hunting in the USA: Wisconsin Hunt vastly overshoots

Under Trump, the American wolf lost its endangered species status. 

This was not a scientific decision, it was a political. It is true that the number of wolves in North America has grown dramatically since hunting was banned across most areas. However it is absolutely absurd to suggest that the population has recovered.

Wolves roam Wisconsin once again, will they be allowed to remain?

It is hard to calculate the precise number of wolves that roamed North America before humans arrived. Scientific estimates range from quarter of a million wolves right up to 2 million wolves, which roamed the United States of America (as in this was the population of the USA and did not include Mexico or Canada).

The current estimate of the number of wolves that roam the lower 48 states in the USA is roughly 5000. 

Added to this must be the number of wolves in Alaska which has between 7000 and 11000 wolves. the reason the Alaskan wolf population is counted separately is because it is not connected to the rest of the USA – it shares a border with Canada which shares a border with the USA. Given that Canada has a healthy will the population of roughly 60,000 alaska’s population is unlikely to fall particularly far – even if they exterminate the wolf it is likely to recolonise relatively fast from Canada.

If we assume a roughly equal distribution of wolves across the 48 States we could assume that well an excess of 200000 wolves lived in the USA. Going on these figures the current number of wolves in the USA 48 lower States is under 5% of historical numbers. An animal living in numbers at under 5% in its historical on therefore likely natural equilibrium numbers has clearly not recovered.

However, what’s trump’s move did was to give responsibility for these wolf populations to the States in which they reside. This came with few strings attached, and unsurprisingly many of the States instantly instigated hunting.

Wisconsin has just had its 2021 wolf hunt. There are currently roughly 1000 wolves that live wild in Wisconsin. It should be noted that Wisconsin has a target wolf population of 350. Given the carrying capacity of the land and the current wolf population, it would seem that this number was simply plucked out of the year with no no thought to the actual circumstances.

During this Hunt Wisconsin set the target number of animal to be killed at 119. The wolf hunt was supposed to last week that was indeed after 3 days, as 216 of these animals had been killed by then. It should be noted that Hunters and trappers in Wisconsin have exceeded the target in the last three hunting seasons, on only one of these occasions the overshoot was only by 10 or less.

The state sold 1547 permits, meaning more than 13 permits per wolf they were targeting. This is obviously a situation where overshoot is highly likely, indeed it seems more like it was the states plan all along. If every hunter had managed to bag the kill they had wanted, they wolf population of Wisconsin would have been wiped out.

It should also be noted that’s a significant portion of these wolvess roam tribal land. The Ojibwe tribe claim the rights on 281 of the wolf kills according to treaty rights. it should be noted that the tribe in question considers the wolf sacred and therefore it is unsure as to whether they killed any – however, if this is true, it is disgusting for the state 82 give licences for people to kill wolves that live on land they have no right to control.

it should also be noted that republican state representatives demanded the hunt be held at this time of year, rather than in November as is normally done because of fears that Biden will put the Wolf back on the endangered species list. It’s a political group fear something is going to happen and as a result carries out the opposite program it is no wonder that the wolf hunting in Wisconsin is not been done according to science.

Wisconsin is still planning a hunting season in November as well.

It should be remembered that the grey wolf we are discussing here is not the only species of wolf that lives in America. The Mexican wolf and the red wolves also exist in small pockets. These are both far smaller populations, and far below level which we allow hunting to not decimate these species out of existence.

Minnesota is less unified with bills proposing a hunting season and bills opposing the same. Officials in Colorado are also discussing the reintroduction of the Wolf, roughly three decades after it was trapped and Hunted to local extinction.

It is frankly this which is my biggest problem with hunting of animals like this in places where they are only in the process of recovery. I include a map of historical and current range. States that currently have a wolf population are hunting it as though they nearly wish to retain the number of wolves currently or indeed reduce it. However it is clear from this map that the wolf still has a great deal of recolonisation to happen,and this will not occur if the wolf population is significantly reduced in areas where the wolf is currently found. As an apex predator the wolf is extremely important for America’s ecosystem. Allowing it to return would likely reduce many of the problems caused by animals such as coyotes.

Does this map look like the wolf has recovered? Certainly not to me

Bring on the time that president Biden brings the management of the American wolf back on the scientific terms.

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