Wisconsin’s Grey Wolf Population

Jack Biggs

Wisconsin’s grey wolf population is on the rise, and has been since the 1970s when the animals were reintroduced into the state. People have been divided on whether or not we should hunt wolves and whether or not there should be a population limit and how it should be enforced

Bureau of Wildlife Management.

Reintroduction of wolves

The grey wolf species became protected in Wisconsin in the year 1957, after they had all been killed or left the state. In 1975 the DNR began rebuilding the population via migration and transportation .  By 1980 there were 25 wolves and 5 packs in the entire state. As stated previously, the population has grown far larger, which, according to Deer and Deer Hunting (DDH) has a negative effect on the deer population due to the fact they kill more than humans. Some proposed ideas for controlling the population would be hunting seasons and removal to other states. 

Wolf population, growth and harvest

The fall 2021 harvest quota has been set at 130 wolves by the DNR. 313 wolves were killed between the Aprils of 2020 and 2021 according to EcoWatch. According to the DNR there are currently an estimated 256 packs and an estimated 1,034 wolves in the state, equating to roughly 1 wolf to 22 mi² of pack range. The growth has been very steady with about 100 new wolves per year since 2010. The location of these packs is in the southern border of Lake Superior, near Douglas, Iron and Florence to name a few, and the Marathon/Portage area of our state. Wolves tend to stay in their territory, so it would be safe to assume that they have been living here for a while. 

Do wolves pose a threat to animals and humans?

According to the DNR between April of 2019 and April of 2020 only 71 farm animals were killed by wolves, that would equate to around 6% of the total wolf population preying on farm animals. Between the April of 2019 and the April of 2020, 4 dogs were killed while not engaged in hunting and 5 were injured while not engaged in hunting, so one can assume that wolves are not wandering around killing all animals they can find.