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Bill Aims to Manage WI Wolves by 'Not Enforcing' Federal Laws
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/09/2017

Four Republican lawmakers say they have found a solution to controlling the growing wolf population in Wisconsin: simply don't punish local people for breaking federal laws. That's according to Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake, Mary Felzkowski of Irma, Romaine Quinn of Rice Lake, and Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, who are circulating a bill that would essentially make law enforcement officers look the other way if local citizens choose to kill wolves on their own property.

Specifically, the measure would prohibit officers from enforcing any federal or state laws related to managing the state's wolf population; and would also prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from using any funds for the purpose of managing wolves in Wisconsin.

"If Congress refuses to act - we will. It is clear that Congress will not be solving Wisconsin's wolf issue anytime soon, therefore we must take matters into our own hands." said Rep. Jarchow. "It is heartbreaking to hear about a farmer losing livestock or a family losing its pet to a pack of wolves."

Supporters of the idea claim livestock and pets are becoming more vulnerable to wolf attacks since wolves were placed on the Endangered Species List by a federal judge.

A press release by the four lawmakers noted that if the Legislature passes the bill, Congress will have no choice but to de-list the wolf in Wisconsin.

"In 2011, Idaho Governor Butch Otter issued an executive order which would have had similar implications to this bill," the release stated. "Congress responded by de-listing the wolf in Idaho."

Sen. Tiffany adds that it is time for Wisconsin to once again manage its own wolf population, even if it means taking drastic measures.

As Wisconsin Ag Connection reported last month, a bill that would allow certain states to manage their own gray wolf populations by removing court-ordered protections has been approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources. As part of that measure, the U.S. Department of the Interior would be required to reissue two rules that remove such protections under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for animals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, as well as portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming ,Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. In addition, the policy would prohibit judicial review of the reissued rules.

Wolves in the affected states were relisted under the Endangered Species Act three years ago by a federal judge. Prior to that time, states were given the authority to regulate wolf populations, which prompted Wisconsin to offer a limited hunting season for the animals.

Recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows that the overwinter minimum wolf count in the state during the past year was between 925 and 956. That's an increase of about seven percent from the same time last year.

The agency estimates that the number of wolf packs also grew in the past year to 232, about 10 more than 12 months earlier.

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