DNR wolf-hunt numbers:
MADISON — Wisconsin hunters have already killed 97 wolves this season, putting them sharply ahead of last year's pace.
The state Department of Natural Resources set a quota of 251 wolves this season. The agency says 97 were killed as of Tuesday, the seventh day of the hunt. That's about twice the pace at which wolves were killed last year, the state's inaugural wolf-hunt season.
The DNR estimated that last winter's wolf population was as high as 834 animals, and the agency is trying to reduce the population to 350. Hunters and trappers killed 117 wolves last year, one over the quota.
The wolf hunt is divided into six zones, each with its own limit. Each zone will remain open until the limit is reached or until the end of February, whichever comes first.
One zone in northeastern Wisconsin is already close to its limit and will close at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the DNR said. Zone 2, which includes parts of Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Oconto, Oneida and Vilas counties, has a cap of 28 wolves, and 26 have already been killed.
Zone 2 is the first zone to close this season, the DNR said. The wolf hunt remains open in all other zones.
Zone 1, which covers the state's northwest corner, is halfway to its 76-wolf quota. In Zone 5 in west-central Wisconsin, 19 of a maximum 34 wolves have been taken.
There has been almost no activity in two zones that span a band of counties across the north part of the state. Two wolves apiece have been killed in Zones 3 and 4. Zone 3, which includes parts of Burnett, Rusk, Taylor and Washburn Counties, has a cap of 71 animals, and Zone 4, which spans part of Langlade, Lincoln and Oconto counties, has a limit of 12.
State biologists say the 2012 wolf hunting and trapping season either didn't reduce or only slightly reduced the wolf population. Estimates had put Wisconsin's wolf population at between 809 and 834 of the animals, in 214 packs, as of early 2013. The wolf population typically doubles each year after pups are born in spring then begins to decline through various sources of mortality.