Testimony in support of increasing Fall wolf hunt quota
Submitted by: Luke Hilgemann – President, CEO Hunter Nation
Date: August 11, 2021
Honorable Chairman Prehn, and members of the Board.
My name is Luke Hilgemann and I am the President and CEO of Hunter Nation – a grassroots organization that represents the United Voice of the American Hunter. We represent more than 500,000 activists from all 50 states including over 40,000 Wisconsin hunters.
Today, we are here to voice our strong support for increasing the recommended quota for the upcoming wolf harvest season to at least 420 animals.
I want to cover several facts with the Board today that support our request to significantly increase the DNR’s suggested quota of 130 animals and return the wolf population closer to our statewide carrying capacity of 350 animals. But before I cover those facts I want to discuss another more troubling issue.
One of the biggest concerns Hunter Nation has with the conversation today is the unprecedented move by the Department of Natural Resources to potentially change the Board’s approved quota as discussed in the agency’s “green sheet” that “the Department will be taking further administrative action to determine the number of licenses to be issued” and “the Department will be taking further administrative action to assess whether the quota approved by the Board should be adjusted.”
We view any attempt by the Department to change the license or quota numbers without the express consent of the NR Board as a potential infringement of the Board’s authority.
If the Evers’ Administration and the DNR were to take this unprecedented step of not enacting the agreed-upon quotas or changing them mid-season, you can be assured that Hunter Nation will once again file legal action to stop this power grab immediately.
Despite efforts from anti-hunting groups, their allies in the mainstream media, and the department (to a lesser extent) to wrongfully paint the spring wolf harvest season as a slaughter, the facts paint a different story: 27,000 hunters applied for the chance to hunt one of Wisconsin’s wolves, 4,000 hunters filled the quota of 200 animals in 39 hours, harvesting 218 wolves – 9% over the quota.
Multiple media reports have wrongfully categorized the total harvest as 80% above the quota that this very board approved. The fact again is that hunters successfully harvested and registered 218 wolves in the spring hunt in record time. The final harvest was 9% above the quota which in nearly every other season where a quota exists is heralded as a success by the DNR biologists and wildlife managers. The Board set a quota of 200 animals. Hunters filled that quota. From a management perspective, who harvested those animals should not matter to the Department. But that didn’t stop the sensationalized stories from being written. So what’s different about the wolf?
This can all be tracked back to money…the national anti-hunting groups opposing this hunt raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year ginning up their members against any form of hunting and their top performer is the Gray Wolf.
The record time it took hunters to fill the quota this spring has NOT been discussed by the Department or the Board. During the last wolf hunt held in Wisconsin in 2014, it took 1500 hunters nearly 2 months to fill a quota of 150 animals.
You don’t have to be a mathematician or a wildlife biologist to understand what has happened to our wolf population over that time. It is our belief and the belief of thousands of hunters, farmers, loggers, trappers, and residents from across the state that we have received input from that the population has skyrocketed and the Department’s current population models that estimate the population at 1000 animals are broken and beyond repair.
We strongly encourage the DNR to revamp their current wolf population estimating tools which depend on 150 or so citizens (many of whom are anti-hunters) to report the interactions they have with wolves in a small area during a certain time to a more robust statewide estimate that incorporates input from game camera photos, first-hand accounts, and other research like that done by our coalition partner Laurie Groskopf of Wisconsin Wolf Facts.
The third and final point I want to cover with the Board is the extensive research done by Laurie Groskopf and her group that illustrates the results from harvest and other human take on wolf populations in Wisconsin, Idaho and Montana rightly conclude that human harvest of around 30% has an overall population reduction of ZERO. This is because the often overlooked but never denied the fact that wolf populations at the time of the harvest season are typically DOUBLE the overwinter population estimates meaning that a large number of wolves not harvested will die over the winter.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and Hunter Nation and our members remain committed to working with you to ensure the future of our hunting traditions here in Wisconsin.