How to live with wolves a question that's here to stay in Wisconsin
(Note: This reporter is making an assumption, which is a dangerous thing to do. "...recovery programs have succeeded in reducing threats to gray wolves and vastly increasing their numbers and range," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams was quoted in May of 2003...)
May 2, 2004
By Darrell Pendergrass
The Country Journal
P.O. Box 637
Washburn, WI 54891
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Ino, Wisconsin - Barbara Brandis lives just up Hwy. G from Paul Peters, she’s familiar with where he lives and where his home is situated.
Brandis has had her own wolf encounter, her Siberian husky Misty attacked by wolves a year or so ago.
Brandis said in a phone interview Sunday that, at the time, Misty was let outside during the evening after Barbara had returned home from church, only to be discovered later in the garage.
“She had bad injuries on her neck and back,” Brandis said. “We took her to the veterinarian’s, they shaved her down and she also had puncture wounds all over her body.”
Brandis said the outlook was dim for her pet and the dog would have required extensive medical care to survive.
So Barbara made the decision to have her dog put down.
According to a Northland College website, in the early 1800s there were as many as 3,000 to 5,000 wolves in the Wisconsin region. A state bounty was placed on wolves in Wisconsin in 1865, and lasted until 1957. By 1900, wolves had disappeared from the southern part of the state. In 1950, less than 50 wolves remained in extreme northern Wisconsin.
In 1974, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the timber wolf a federally endangered species. At about that time, wolves began to re-colonize Wisconsin in the northwest portion of the state.
Wolves were not reintroduced into the state, but moved in on their own.
The state of Wisconsin listed the wolf a state endangered species in 1975.
A Wisconsin DNR management plan in 1999 set a delisting goal of 250 wolves outside of Indian reservations, and a long-term management goal of 350 wolves outside of Indian reservations.
In 1999, wolves were reclassified to state threatened status with 205 wolves in the state.
In 2002, the state wolf population stood at 323 wolves in 81 packs, with at least 8-9 loners.
The growing gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes states and a successful reintroduction program in the northern Rocky Mountains has prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change the status of gray wolves in those areas from "endangered" to a less serious "threatened" designation.
Under federal law, endangered species are those in danger of extinction.
Threatened species are considered likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
"Threatened is a more appropriate classification than endangered for wolves outside the Southwest, because recovery programs have succeeded in reducing threats to gray wolves and vastly increasing their numbers and range," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams was quoted in May of 2003 by the Ironwood Daily Globe.
Under the Endangered Species Act, rules provide options for removing wolves that cause problems for livestock owners and others.
Such rules are possible for threatened species, but not for those designated as endangered.
Having livestock and pets killed by wolves is not all that uncommon, as evidenced by stories and cases in northern Minnesota and out West.
And according to most mainstream wolf proponents and wolf biologists, there has never been a ‘documented case’ of healthy wolves having attacked people.
It’s a point that in most circles is never questioned.
But not in every circle.
T.R. Mader works in the research division for the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America in Beresford, South Dakota.
On a fringe-group anti-wolf website the Abundant Wildlife Society reports to highlight some cases where wolves did attack humans.
Mader said in a phone interview on Monday [that] he was a pro-wolf reintroductionist living in Wyoming who supported bringing the wolf to Yellowstone Park in the 1980s.
Until he began looking into the problems the wolf can cause -- and has caused.
“What was being perpetuated about the wolf was a lie,” he said.
According to Mader there are between 60,000 to 80,000 wolves on the North American continent.
He said they kill livestock and pets regularly in the western states.
And he believes introducing them into Yellowstone Park was a governmental act to control outlying land and people.
“It’s on someone’s agenda,” he said.
Mader said the criteria for making an official ‘documented case’ of a wolf attack is too strict.
Among those criteria his website points out is that an offending wolf must be captured and studied for disease, there must be witnesses present at the time of the attack, the victim must die, and the wolf must never have been in human contact for it to be labeled an attack.
According to Mader they might not be official, but through history there have been wolf attacks on humans.
“There’s no question about it,” Mader said. “The pro-wolf people have tried to skew what the wolf will do.”
The wolf does nonetheless enjoy a huge following that believes the wild isn't truly wild unless this animal is a part of the equation.
On its website, Northland College’s Timber Wolf Alliance says it’s dedicated to promoting and assisting in the achievement of a sustainable population of wolves through public education in the western Great Lakes region with special emphasis in the Lake Superior basin.
The Timber Wolf Alliance promotes strategies that enhance wolf populations and teach people about the wolf's role as an integral part of a healthy woodland ecosystem.
Wolves are here to stay in Wisconsin.