Tiffany bill seeks to permanently remove gray wolf from federal endangered species list
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill introduced by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) and Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) on Friday, Sept. 4 seeks to permanently remove the gray wolf from the list of federal endangered species and “restore authority” to control the animal’s population to state lawmakers and state wildlife officials, according to a release from Tiffany’s office.
The legislation, called the Managing Predators Act, would permanently bar federal officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming from interfering in state wolf management efforts.
“It’s time to end the era of urban judges and paper-pushers a thousand miles away in Washington, DC micromanaging Wisconsin wildlife policies,” Tiffany said in the statement. “Wolf attacks on pets and livestock are becoming commonplace and the soaring wolf population is beginning to do long-term damage to the hunting industry – enough is enough.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s 2018-2019 data, there were between 914 and 978 wolves in Wisconsin at that time, a 1% increase from the 2017-18 minimum count of 905-944.
“2018-19 results represent a leveling in the population following a modest decline of 2.2% last year,” DNR’s 2018-19 Wolf Count Brief states. “This leveling off has been anticipated and may suggest wolves have reached biological carrying capacity for the habitat currently available in Wisconsin.”
According to DNR, 20 hunting dogs have been killed and four have been injured by wolves in Wisconsin this year. Two pet dogs have been killed by wolves in the state in 2020.
31 beef calves have been killed by wolves in Wisconsin this year, along with one alpaca, one dairy calf, one dairy cow, one colt, one ewe sheep, two Filly horses, two beef cows, two lambs, three Angus steer, and 12 sheep, according to DNR data.
“This legislation is especially timely with Minnesota’s whitetail deer season around the corner,” Stauber said in the statement. “As the hunters in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin set out their orange and head to the woods, let’s make sure we have a robust deer herd to continue these timeless family traditions.”
“Wisconsin farmers, ranchers and sportsmen have seen enough real-world evidence to know that it is their livelihood and future that’s endangered, not the gray wolf,” Tiffany stated.
DNR calls the relationship between wolves and deer “complex.”
“Generally, winter weather and human harvest, especially antlerless harvest, have greater impacts on deer populations than predation over the long term,” DNR stated. “Deer herds in northern Wisconsin have increased significantly in recent years, even with an established wolf population, suggesting that wolves do not limit deer population growth. However, deer may alter their behavior, movements and/or habitat use in response to the presence of wolves.”
According to DNR, wolves identify vulnerable prey and target individuals that are “are old, young, sick or otherwise weakened.”
“Hence, deer removed by wolves are less likely to survive and less likely to produce offspring than the deer that remain,” DNR said. “The average age of white-tailed deer killed by wolves was 6.5 years in Minnesota, for example, whereas the average age of does taken by hunters was 2.5 years in this same area. This targeting of vulnerable animals serves to reduce the impact of wolves on long-term deer population dynamics. It has also been suggested that wolves might reduce CWD transmission rates and prevalence by removing sick individuals.”
The legislation has been endorsed by Luke Hilgemann, Chief Executive Officer Hunter Nation, Lucas Withrow, Vice President of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, and Erica Tergeson, Director of Hunting Policy for the National Rifle Association.
“On behalf of the nearly 50,000 hunters who have signed our petition to de-list the gray wolf, Hunter Nation is grateful for champions like Congressman Tiffany who has been a tireless advocate for sportsmen,” Hilgemann said. “We look forward to advancing this important bill that will finally allow states to manage these apex predators and restore balance to our outdoor resources.”
“Wisconsin’s Bear Hunters applaud the introduction of this bill which delivers the long overdue return of wolf management to the State of Wisconsin,” Withrow stated. “Our state has proven it can successfully sustain and manage wolves. The past few years our state has been without the ability to manage wolf populations and it has caused many unknown and unnecessary depredations and negative impacts on our hunting and farming communities. Wolves need to be managed for public tolerance within the wolf range and the health of the wolves themselves.”
“It is high time wolf management was taken from the federal government and returned to the states,” Tergeson said. “The federal cookie cutter approach does not take into consideration the unique needs of states. Wolf populations have increased exponentially and need to be held in check to protect livestock, humans and other wildlife. Congressman Tiffany’s bill would do just that.”
Verified cases of healthy wolves attacking humans are extremely rare, and there have been no documented cases in Wisconsin, according to DNR.