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Animal Wellness Action is offering a $10,000 reward for information which leads to the successful prosecution of people who’ve illegally poached wolves in Wisconsin. The group says it is, “alarmed by internet chatter for self-described wolf hunters boasting that they will take matters into their own hands and kill wolves, absent any state authorization to do so.”
In a press release, Animal Wellness Action states that it became aware of these sorts of conversations after a Dane County Circuit Court judge blocked the planned November wolf hunt. The decision came after Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, Project Coyote, Friends of Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife and others joined in opposition to the impending hunt.
Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list during the waning days of the Trump Administration. On the heels of that decision, a Hunter Nation, a Kansas-based hunters organization, sued the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to compel an immediate wolf hunt. After a hunt was held in February, more wolves were killed than were allowed by the quota set by the DNR. Native American tribes in Wisconsin which were allocated portions of the quota also did not hunt their portion. Hunters in other parts of the state exceeded the allowed quota for wolves in every hunting zone. It’s still unclear exactly how many wolves were killed during the last hunt. Independent studies, which have been criticized by the DNR, suggest that the impact on the wolf population was far higher than official estimates accept. The quota was exceeded despite the DNR closing all the hunting zones early.
In late November, Wisconsin Examiner also reported that a member of the committee responsible for establishing how to manage wolves in Wisconsin had been twice cited for violations of state trapping laws.
Animal Wellness Action is also raising the alarm about hunters discussing “gut shooting” wolves online, and not reporting wolf kills to the state. Independent studies on the wolf hunt have raised the prospect of “cryptic poaching” which may be more difficult for state agencies to track.
“The February slaughter of wolves was a national embarrassment to Wisconsin and proof that the DNR has not been able to maintain even minimal safeguards for wolves,” stated Paul Collins, Wisconsin state director of Animal Wellness Action. “While the agency updates its ten-year-old wolf management plan, it must also exercise its enforcement authority to prosecute and punish those hunters who think they’re above the law.”
Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, stressed the importance of holding poachers accountable. ‘Poachers cannot be allowed to undermine wolf management in Wisconsin, and that’s why we are announcing this major rewards program today,” said Pacelle. “Wildlife protection rules are enforced by sworn officers of the state, but these personnel rely on responsible citizens to assist them by reporting on illegal activities, testifying against perpetrators, and otherwise working in tandem with them to respect the rule of law.”
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