State’s wolf population shows moderate increase
Category: press release
Oct 31st, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 31st, 2010 at 12:00 AM
MADISON – Using a combination of track surveys, monitoring of radio-collared animals and reported observations, state wildlife biologists estimate that the gray wolf population in Wisconsin was in the range of 465 to 502 animals at the end of the 2005-2006 winter. The population includes 115 packs and at least 12 loners and represents about a 7 percent increase from the 2004-2005 winter count of 435 to 465.
Biologists aided by volunteers have conducted annual wolf population surveys since the winter of 1979-80. Surveys are conducted by following snow covered forest roads noting wolf tracks in fresh snow and by locating and observing the 40 or so Wisconsin wolves currently wearing radio-collars.
The 2006 count includes 16 to 17 wolves occurring on reservations, leaving 449 to 485 wolves outside of Indian reservations, according to Adrian Wydeven, a conservation biologist and wolf specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Wisconsin’s Wolf Management Plan calls for a population of 350 wolves outside of Indian reservations.
“This puts the current population at about 100 wolves above the plan’s goal,” Wydeven said.
Wolves are currently listed as a protected wild animal by the state of Wisconsin. However, the federal government continues to list wolves as an endangered species.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in March 2006, its intent to “delist” wolves in Wisconsin and adjacent states and return all management authority to the states. Public comments on the proposed delisting will be accepted until June 26. People can comment on the proposal through the agency’s Web site at
“Wolves returned to Wisconsin by dispersing naturally from Minnesota in the mid 1970s after being extirpated for about 15 years,” says Wydeven. “No wolves were ever reintroduced by humans into Wisconsin. With state and federal protection, the wolf population has grown and spread across much of the forests of northern Wisconsin and the Central Forest region.”
Although illegal killing of wolves declined in the 1990s, wolves continue to be shot and trapped illegally. In 2005 at least 13 wolves were killed illegally in the state. Recently, two wolves were shot during the turkey hunting season in Price and Sauk Counties.