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Kurt Thiede, DNR Land Division Administrator, 608-266-5833 or Bill Cosh, DNR Spokesperson, 608-267-2773


MADISON — Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunt will commence on Oct. 15, marking the transition from wolf recovery to wolf management in the state.

“This is a landmark moment in conservation history,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “Hunters and trappers engaging in Wisconsin’s first state-managed season can hang their hats on being part of a pivotal chapter in wolf management, a story that can be shared with generations to come.”

Between opening day and Feb. 28, 2013, up to 1,160 state licensed hunters and trappers will take to the field, aiming to harvest no more than 201 wolves from a population of more than 850. With wolf numbers and depredations at an all-time high, the goal of the closely managed hunt is to reduce the wolf population to a more biologically and socially acceptable level.

More on hunting: Hunting headlines | 2012-2013 trophy shots | More hunting photos | Revisit chat with DNR deer expert | Registration station map | Hunting blogs

“The recovery of the wolf to being a harvestable species is a remarkable success story in wildlife conservation,” Stepp said. “It’s amazing to think that some of our hunters and trappers were children when the wolf was nearly eliminated from the landscape, and now will be part of hunting a solid population.”

The species was listed for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. With wolf populations eight times higher than delisting goals and far exceeding the goal for hunting in accordance with DNR’s state wolf management plan [PDF], wolves were delisted in Wisconsin this past January and management authority was returned to the state.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the dedication of hunters, trappers, volunteers, agencies and research institutions that assisted with gray wolf recovery,” said Stepp. “We are successfully out of species recovery mode and into species management mode. We look forward to working with these same partners as we continue to write the story of the wolf in Wisconsin.”
Season specifics

* The wolf season runs Oct. 15, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013. However, if harvest levels reach the quota for a zone, the department will enact an emergency closure in that zone. If a zone is closed, it would not take effect until at least 24 hours after the department announces the closure.

* Up to 201 wolves can be harvested this season, 85 of which are reserved for Native American tribes within the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin.

* 20,272 people applied for licenses with 1,160 awarded through a random computerized drawing (1,145 Wisconsin applicants and 15 to out-of-state applicants). Those not drawn this year have earned a preference point for future drawings.

* Wolf harvest licenses can be purchased at any license sales location or online at now or during the season. The cost is $100 for residents, and $500 for nonresidents.

* Successful applicants can transfer their wolf harvest license to a youth or an adult who meets the eligibility requirements. Transfer applications must be received at DNR by Oct. 14.

* A wolf license authorizes both hunting and trapping. The license holder must meet the appropriate education requirements for trapping, Hunter Education, or must be participating in the Hunting Mentorship program.

* A recent judicial ruling has temporarily prevented or enjoined the use of dogs for hunting wolves, and also the use of dogs to train to hunt wolves. As a result of this ruling, please be advised that the use of dogs for tracking and trailing of wolves is not authorized when hunting wolves under a wolf harvesting license. Also, the use of dogs for training to track or trail free ranging wolves is not authorized at this time.

* Anyone seeking additional information about the hunt, or if they would like to receive email updates about harvest and zone information, should call the DNR Call Center at 1-888-936-7463. The Call Center is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information on the wolf hunt, regulations, and maps, please visit and search “wolf.”

More news from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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