Wolf hunting in Wisconsin - A Response to "‘An abomination’: the story of the massacre that killed 216 wolves" in The Guardian

Wolf hunting in Wisconsin - A Response to "‘An abomination’: the story of the massacre that killed 216 wolves" in The Guardian

by Donald P. Chartier Jr.

In response to the article about wolf hunting in Wisconsin: ‘An abomination’: the story of the massacre that killed 216 wolves.

I am a resident of Wisconsin, an avid hunter, and a member of the County Deer Advisory Council Board of the State Department of Natural Resources. Like many other hunters and sportsmen in the United States, I am in the woods every week, sometimes, every day.  From my personal observations and research, I firmly believe we have a serious predator issue in Wisconsin and the issue is having a major effect on our wildlife coexistence. 

But Wisconsin is not alone. Minnesota and Michigan have the exact same situation with many areas across all three states now observing more wolves than deer.

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The focus of the subject article is hunting wolves with dogs.  The author feels it is unfair, and has resulted in too many wolves being harvested. Yet, there are no articles against allowing dogs to aid in hunting bears, racoons, birds of many species, rabbits, all of which are legal in Wisconsin. While I am not a “wolf hater”, it is important to acknowledge their numbers are out of control, and vastly under-reported.  The article is, in my opinion, incorrect in assuming the number of wolves in the state. Therefore, I will provide a list of points on what is, from my perspective, the actual state of affairs.

  • The estimated number of wolves reported in Wisconsin is 900-1,000.  However, this number is 3 to 4 times that many. We have counties that have over 1,000 wolves, but due to under-reporting the estimate is very low.

To estimate the deer population, the DNR uses several metrics. These include tree damage, number of deer hit by cars, percentage of hunter success, impact of winter severity. All of these are computed by county, and over 30 years the averages are surprisingly accurate. Meanwhile, to determine wolf populations, there are no metrics established. There are also suspicions that political motives are at play. The State of Wisconsin thrives on tourism; they do not want to scare people away by admitting how many wolves are wandering around our forests. This all contributes to underestimating the actual wolf population.       

  • A wolf will kill over 20 adult deer each year. That is more deer than all hunters in Wisconsin kill each year— rifle-Bow-muzzle loading combined. (2019 and 2020).

  • Unlike a coyote that kills only for food, a wolf kills for the sport of it. They operate as an Alpha Canine.

  • According to DNR surveys, many Wisconsin hunters saw more wolves on their trail cameras than deer last year.

  • According to DNR surveys, the largest concern amongst hunters was not CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease), season length or bag limits; it was predators. Almost 70% of hunters expressed fears around predators, of which wolves were one.

  • Some residents, desperate to reduce the wolf population, have resorted to poisoned meat. However, many dogs attracted to the poisoned bait have also died.

  • Unlike a bear that is more afraid of you than you are of them, a wolf is less likely to back down and run away if encountered.

  • In Wisconsin, per animal, wolves kill more than any other predator. They will attack deer, rabbits, birds, farm animals, domesticated pets, and humans.

It is with these points in mind that I firmly believe the out-of-control wolf population in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan must be closely controlled through wildlife management programs.

Donald P. Chartier Jr

A note on hunting in Wisconsin from the author: 

"...Hunting in general is a $2.5 billion, with a 'b', event in Wisconsin and the nine-day gun deer season is 88 percent of that impact. It does mobilize a lot of people. They have to buy fuel and food and gear. It's something that gets people excited and it has a big shot in the arm for the state..."
“…deer hunting is 'the big homecoming…My understanding is we're #2 in the country in non-resident license sales. We are definitely a destination. I don't think that's all hunters trotting the globe looking for the biggest buck I think the homecoming aspect of it are a big part of those non-resident sales….”  Scott Loomans, Division Administrator for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division.
I feel strongly about the wolf population in Wisconsin because I want to see the hunting tradition continue.  It was a very important part of my upbringing and I see it dwindling.  Hunting is something you learn from your father, mother, grandfather; not a hobby that is taken up as an adult.  There is a huge difference between shooting a real firearm and playing a video game.  With the predator populations increasing and the deer populations decreasing, there are fewer hunters and as a result far fewer youth hunters.  If we do not maintain a balance, I am afraid that young men and women in the future will never experience the joys and challenges of hunting. 

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Donald P. Chartier Jr.
Donald P. Chartier Jr.

Donald Chartier is a lifelong woodsman and has been hunting in Michigan and Wisconsin since 1966. He holds an undergraduate degree from Northern Michigan University and received his Masters of Business from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Donald is a private land owner and resident of Lincoln County Wisconsin, and has held a position on the County Deer Advisory Council within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources since 2016.

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