Over the last few weeks I had posted several items like this one about how the Wisconsin DNR and its Wolf Advisory Committee gather and assess wolf population data before setting annual hunting season kill quotas.
A specific issue raised in the posts was whether the wolf population estimate that was released at the 4/29 advisory committee meeting in Wausau was based, in part, on an annual open meeting of interested parties where tracking data and other numbers were openly shared, discussed and debated.
While a DNR spokesman had told me that the process used prior to the April meeting was the same as in past years, others disagreed, and Rachel Tilseth, one of those stakeholders, has written for this blog, below, her personal experience with the process.
Her guest post is below:
I was a Wisconsin wolf stakeholder as a WDNR volunteer wolf tracker from 2000 until I resigned in the spring of 2013.
You are right that a very important meeting is missing from the tracking and gathering of wolf population numbers prior to the 2014/15 hunt.
This meeting was held every spring and helped get accurate numbers on wolves as well as discussion/input on wolf recovery.
I also was in on the process of wolf recovery and the wolf management plans. The 350-wolf population number the WDNR uses now as its goal was only a gauge to measure when the wolves could be taken off life-support early on in wolf recovery.
But since then, the pro-hunt camp has seized on that number as an end goal that they allege can sustain the wolf population.
Wisconsin can support more than 350 wolves.
There is the matter of social carrying capacity, whereby the questions become whether people living in wolf country can tolerate wolves. Then it becomes a question of education and helping people to learn to live with wolves as neighbors.
The WDNR has dropped the ball on that concept, restricted public involvement and turned too much of the process over to hunting advocates.
- - - - Rachel Tilseth
Rachel Tilseth WDNR volunteer winter wolf/carnivore tracker 2000 to 2013. Photograph taken winter of 2005, Northern Wisconsin.
Rachel Tilseth is the founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, a wolf advocacy grassroots organization first started in the summer of 2012 for the purpose of getting dogs out of the wolf hunt. Rachel is an artist and educator living in the heart of wolf country in northern Wisconsin.