Brad Olson on wolves preying on livestock, deer in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Brad Olson describes concerns about the state's 2023 wolf management plan related to how a growing population of the predator impacts ranching and hunting. By Nathan Denzin | PBS Wisconsin (Here & Now)

Brad Olson:
I think the biggest fact is is that that wolves, they're just predatory. So they take what's there, they take what's available and in one case in central Wisconsin, they came in in a night and wiped out the entire herd of sheep. That's years and years of work by that individual farmer, it's the emotional stress of something like that, losing everything in one night due to a predator. Those things that 20 years ago just could not have happened and I think the fact that you look at it and they'll say a lot of times that, “Wolves just kill to eat.” In this case, they killed 30, 40 sheep in one night and never ate one of 'em, just killed for the fun of it, more than likely teaching their young how to kill, but that does not do the farmer any good. There's really not a check big enough that the state can write to make up for that type of loss, 'cause it isn't a financial loss at that point, it's an emotional loss at that point and something that, I'm sorry. money just can't fix.

Nathan Denzin:
What do… Yeah, we're gonna do this one first. What do you think about the 2023 wolf management plan that the DNR put out? Or what does your organization take on it?

Brad Olson:
Well, it's a bad plan. As I said earlier, I don't think anybody is out to get rid of the wolves, even in northern Wisconsin, they have a place. But, once you get past that 350 goal that was back in the late '90s in the original wolf plan that had scientific data to it, this plan really has no scientific data. It's a feel good plan. As far as rural Wisconsin, I wouldn't say we feel as though our voices were unheard. If you simply look at the white-tail harvest in the last 20 years, 20 years ago, we were harvesting, as a state, over 600,000 white-tail deer a year, today we're harvesting under 300,000. In my part of the state, you can sit out there for hours on end on opening day of deer season and not hear anything, not hear a shot. So, it's a profound effect on everybody.