Wildlife protection groups takes action after picking up internet chatter from wolf hunters that they will “take the law into [their] own hands” after a state court shut down wolf hunt
MADISON, Wis. — Animal Wellness Action offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of anyone engaged in illegal poaching of wolves in the state. The group has been alarmed by internet chatter from self-described wolf hunters boasting that they will take matters into their own hands and kill wolves, absent any state authorization to do so.
These threats against wolves picked up starting in late October, immediately after a Dane County Circuit Court judge blocked the planned November wolf trophy hunting season after legal pleadings from Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, Project Coyote, Friends of Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, and Wisconsin resident Pat Clark.
The threats from unethical hunters follow a widely condemned February 2021 hunt where hunters dramatically exceeded the statewide kill limit set by the Department of Natural Resources. At that time, hunters posted several messages online bragging about “gut shooting” wolves and not reporting wolf kills to the state to maximize the number of animals killed and in violation of state hunting regulations. That hunt resulted in the slaughter of at least 218 wolves in a 60-hour period, exceeding the kill quota set by 83 percent.
“The February slaughter of wolves was a national embarrassment to Wisconsin and proof that the DNR has not been able to maintain even minimal safeguards for wolves,” stated Paul Collins, Wisconsin state director of Animal Wellness Action. “While the agency updates its ten-year-old wolf management plan, it must also exercise its enforcement authority to prosecute and punish those hunters who think they’re above the law.”
Judge Jacob B. Frost invoked the injunction after identifying a complete breakdown in the state’s responsibility to conduct a proper review of the wolf population and control the take of wolves by sport hunters. His decision to enjoin the hunt rested largely on his concerns with DNR’s unconstitutional failure to finalize rules related to wolf hunting in the state in the decade since passage of Act 169, the law calling for wolf hunts. To date, the Attorney General has not appealed the granting of the hunt injunction, leaving wolves safe from sanctioned hunting in the state for the immediate future.
In his Order, Judge Frost prevented the DNR “from setting a hunting or trapping quota other than zero for any wolf hunt season, and from issuing more than zero licenses for hunting and trapping wolves.”
“Poachers cannot be allowed to undermine wolf management in Wisconsin, and that’s why we are announcing this major rewards program today” added Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Wildlife protection rules are enforced by sworn officers of the state, but these personnel rely on responsible citizens to assist them by reporting on illegal activities, testifying against perpetrators, and otherwise working in tandem with them to respect the rule of law.”
Anyone with knowledge of illegal wolf hunting activities can report them through the DNR Tip Hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367) .