Divisions over wolves shape Wisconsin’s new management plan

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now | PBS Wisconsin

Indigenous communities, farmers, hunters and Wisconsinites of all stripes express strong feelings about wolves as their numbers grow in the state and a new management plan for the species is unveiled. Bring up wolves to a Wisconsinite, and you’ll likely get a passionate response.

“They’re going to allow an unchecked, unmanaged wolf population to continue to wreak havoc,” said Keith Mark.

“The more you put wolves in close contact, in proximity with people, the greater the chances are of something truly catastrophic happening,” said Brad Olson.

“I’m here today to talk about my brother, and my brother is the ma’iingan,” said Marvin DeFoe.

“It’s probably been the longest, most intense public engagement process that I’ve been a part of,” said Sam Jonas, the wildlife species section supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He helped write Wisconsin’s newest wolf management plan, which was approved in late 2023.

“It strives for a sustainable and healthy wolf population,” he said.

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are federally protected as an endangered species. But if that designation was ever lifted, Wisconsin would be required by law to hold a wolf hunt like it did in 2021.