Lincoln County board adopts wolf population resolution
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
LINCOLN COUNTY – The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, during its meeting on Tuesday, April 19, adopted a resolution supporting a population goal of 350 gray wolves in Wisconsin.
The resolution points to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s 1999 establishment, and 2007 reaffirmation, of a wolf population goal of 350 “based on prey availability and human population density.”
The DNR currently follows the 2007 framework and is in the process of reviewing the state’s Wolf Management Plan. Tribal consultations and a public comment period were scheduled for this spring, with the DNR slated to present a final draft of the plan to the Natural Resources Board at a later date.
Prior to the board’s vote, three members of the public voiced their opposition the resolution. Several Lincoln County residents wrote letters regarding wolves in the county, and a fourth member of the public read the letters on behalf of the writers. One letter encouraged the board to “respect the science and the professionals who spend their lives studying this subject,” while another spoke out against hunting wolves.
One member of the public spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that from 2010 to 2017, “half the county boards in Wisconsin passed a resolution similar to this, and I think that tells you where the county boards are coming from as representatives of their people.”
Following comments from members of the public, the board discussed the resolution.
District 13 Supervisor Calvin Callahan noted that numerous farming and outdoors groups, as well as majorities of respondents to a pair of surveys conducted by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supported capping Wisconsin’s wolf population at 350.
“I think it’s very accurate to say that the people of the State of Wisconsin, that the people up here in the northern part of the state, our constituents, agree that the wolf population is a problem,” Callahan stated. “We have left it, at the State Legislature, up to the DNR time and time again, and they have constantly failed us. We shouldn’t even have to be worrying about this at the county level, but unfortunately because of a lack of leadership in Madison by the current governor’s administration, we are forced to listen to our constituents and do something about it.”
District 19 Supervisor Julie L. Allen opined that the introduction of the resolution was “a bit premature,” noting that the DNR is slated to complete its Wolf Management Plan before saying that she would vote against the resolution.
A proposed amendment to the resolution that sought strike language regarding the 350-wolf population goal and replace it with “not more than 50% of the population as designated” by the DNR failed after discussion, garnering one vote.
Following further discussion, the resolution ultimately passed with a 15-6 roll call vote.
Voting in favor were Callahan, District 1 Supervisor Bill Bialecki, District 2 Supervisor Lori Anderson-Malm, District 4 Supervisor Steven L. Osness Jr., District 6 Supervisor Norbert “Nubs” Ashbeck, District 8 Supervisor Laurie Theil, District 9 Supervisor Don Friske, District 10 Supervisor Jesse Boyd, District 11 Supervisor Randy Detert, District 12 Supervisor Julie DePasse, District 15 Supervisor Marty R. Lemke, District 17 Supervisor George Brixius, District 18 Supervisor Ken Wickham, District 20 Supervisor Angela Cummings and District 22 Supervisor Greg Hartwig.
Allen, District 3 Supervisor Elizabeth McCrank, District 7 Supervisor Greta Rusch, District 14 Supervisor Brian Hafeman, District 16 Supervisor Michael J. Loka and District 21 Supervisor Eugene Simon were opposed.
With the resolution’s passage, the board “advises that Wisconsin reaffirm a wolf population goal of 350 or less in the next Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan; encourages the WDNR to include elected officials from counties with high wolf conflicts in the DNR Wolf Advisory Committee; requests that WDNR and other partners implement meaningful population controls in the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan; and requests that WDNR not relocate problem wolves from other counties in the state into Lincoln County.”
The resolution will be forwarded to “the offices of the Wisconsin Governor, Secretary of the WDNR, Preston Cole, Secretary of DATCP, Randy Romanski, and state and federal legislators who represent Lincoln County,” according to the resolution.
“When the WDNR public comments period for the revised Wolf Management Plan is announced, the resolution will be sent to the designated contact determined by WDNR,” the resolution states.