Advocates continue pushing for accountability in Wisconsin’s wolf hunts, one of which was held in February. Two groups, Hunters for Wolves and Animal Wellness Action, have offered cash rewards for information regarding illegal poaching of wolves in Wisconsin. Legal actions also continue in the courts, which recently resulted in another hunt being blocked for the fall and winter.

Judge Jacob Frost will hear a case challenging the legality of the fall 2021 wolf hunting season. The briefing schedule will take the case past Feb. 28, 2022, the official end date for Wisconsin’s 2021-22 hunting and trapping season for wolves. Basically, that means that there will be no legal hunting or trapping of wolves for the rest of the winter.

“This is good news for hundreds of wolves who will be spared the cruelty of being caught in neck snares or leghold traps and chased down and attacked by packs of dogs, just after the species was removed from the list of federally endangered species,” said Paul Collins, Wisconsin state director of Animal Wellness Action.

Wisconsin is continuing to grasp the full impact of the early 2021 hunt on the wolf population. After the Trump Administration removed the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list, out-of-state hunting organizations moved quickly to compel a wolf hunt in Wisconsin. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was sued by Kansas-based Hunter Nation, and a wolf hunt was ordered. However, the hunt had to close early because hunters exceeded the allowed quotas for wolves in every hunting zone around the state. Many feared that not only were the quotas set too high, but also that there was no way to enforce the quota. Independent studies estimating how many wolves remained in Wisconsin following the February hunt suggest that the quota was exceeded by 83%, before the DNR could close the zones.

Organizations like Animal Wellness Action have also been monitoring online chatter from wolf hunters. As a result of what the group feared was illegal poaching, Animal Wellness Action issued a $10,000 reward for information that would lead to the successful prosecution of poachers. Recently another group, Hunters for Wolves, offered their own $5,000 reward for the same information. Some of the online chatter the groups have noticed involve hunters bragging about allegedly ignoring the court’s ban.

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