GOP legislators ready bill calling for wolf population goal

A pair of Republican legislators circulated a bill Friday that would require Wisconsin wildlife officials to establish a new population goal for wolves in the state in their next management plan, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The state Department of Natural Resources has operated since 1999 under a wolf management plan that limits the statewide population to 350 animals.

As the number of wolves in the state has increased — DNR estimates released in September put the statewide population at about 1,000 wolves — hunters have pointed to that number as justification for setting generous quotas during the state’s fall wolf season. Animal advocates, however, argue the population isn’t strong enough to support hunting and wolves are too beautiful to kill.

The DNR released a draft of a new management plan in November that doesn’t include any specific population number. The draft plan instead calls for the DNR to work with advisory committees to monitor local populations and decide whether to reduce them, maintain them, or allow them to grow.