Re-list the Gray Wolf

I am a hunter. This is my favorite time of year. I look forward to spending hours in my tree stand with a bow at my side waiting for a buck to walk by and, in November, still hunting the fields and wood lots of the Driftless.

But I just can’t abide wolf hunting. At least not like this. I’m so disgusted by how radical, irresponsible groups like Hunter Nation are conducting themselves that I now hope that the Biden administration will re-list the gray wolf as an endangered species.

Since the Trump administration de-listed the wolf last January, some states — at the behest of radical groups and over the objections of responsible hunters and wildlife managers — have initiated wolf hunts that are scientifically unjustified and ethically wrong.

Here in Wisconsin, Hunter Nation forced through an ill-advised hunt last February that blew past the harvest goal by 80%. That hunt was the first in Wisconsin to take place during the wolves’ breeding season and so the hit to the population is likely to be well beyond a hunt that would have taken place at another time. Hunters were also allowed to use dogs to track and chase down wolves, a practice that many hunters, most definitely including me, find unethical.

In some western states hunters are allowed to use traps and even helicopters. Yes, helicopters. Why don’t they just call in air strikes?

I’m not against wolf hunts in principle. Wolves can be a threat to farm animals and domestic pets and they can have some minor impact on the deer population. But they can be kept in check in ways that are both ethical and underpinned by good science. This spate of hunts is more about “owning the libs” hard-right politics than it is about anything else.

Back in Wisconsin insult has been added to injury as the Natural Resources Board approved a hunt for this fall with an alarmingly high quota that far exceeded staff recommendations. And that only happened because Chair Fred Prehn, appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, refuses to give up his seat for a term that expired in May, which only underscores the political nature of the whole damn thing.

Dozens of tribes have now petitioned Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use her emergency authority to protect the wolf for 240 days while the issue is reviewed. That would prevent the irresponsible Wisconsin hunt from moving forward this fall.

More importantly, it would send a message to groups like Hunter Nation that they won’t be rewarded for their irresponsibility.

Welcome to the 211th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

5 thoughts on “Re-list the Gray Wolf

  1. I’m so disgusted by how radical, irresponsible groups like Hunter Nation are conducting themselves that I now hope that the Biden administration will re-list the gray wolf as an endangered species.

    You’re disgusted, so what?

    This is a pure ends justifies the means rationalization and this kind of unethical thinking can be pushed to absurdity.

    Do you know that there are people that are completely disgusted with you hunting wild animals too; how about they make what you hunt an endangered species just so they can stop you from hunting.

    Lets push it a bit further; there are lots of people that are truly disgusted at the meat counters in stored, how about we pander to these people too and make it illegal to slaughter domesticated animals too therefore eliminating all meats.

    Either wolves are an endangered species or they’re not, period! If they are not an endangered species and people want to change the hunt then they need to go through the proper channels to regulate the hunt and prosecute those that violate the regulations to the FULL extent of the law!

    Stop using ends justifies the means rationalizations, it’s unethical.


  2. From the “Hunter Nation” site Ted Nugent commenting about “responsible predator control”—

    “The jury is not still out on what that balance should and must look like, which is why we don’t, or at least, shouldn’t, allow populations of dangerous predators to live in our neighborhoods.”

    “Wolves and neighborhoods cannot co-exist. Wolves and schoolyards and children’s playgrounds cannot co-exist”.

    If “predator control” means gangs, pedophiles, drug dealers, etc., I’m for it. (I wasn’t aware that WOLVES were the problem.)


  3. I’ve been contemplating the ethics of meat consumption for a while, and am currently ethically ok with hunting, still learning about farming/herding, and against large-scale industrial production. It’s interesting to see the variety of viewpoints in the hunting community, so thanks for the article.

    There certainly must be some sort of line between what is and isn’t ethical in hunting practices. Certainly killing simply to be cruel would fall on the unethical side for me.


    1. Books have been written about what constitutes “fair chase.” And it’s a slippery thing because technology is always advancing. Is my powerful scope on my deer rifle fair chase? Is a cross bow fair chase? Almost all hunters would say that these things don’t cross the line while many hunters object to the use of dogs collared with tracking devices. But I admit that there is little in the way of a fixed definition of what is ethical. My own view is that the animal should suffer as little as possible (and best, not at all) and that the animal be consumed or, as in the case of wolves, that the animal presents a real danger to domestic animals or people. So, my problem with the use of dogs in wolf hunting is that the animal is chased and “suffers” a great deal. I also object to killing an animal that won’t be eaten and without a clear need to kill it from a safety standpoint.


      1. Dave wrote, “I also object to killing an animal that won’t be eaten and without a clear need to kill it from a safety standpoint.”

        I agree with this position; however, the problem is who is defining and how are they defining when the population of wild predatory pack animals, like a wolfs, go beyond the “safe” point in any particular geographical area.

        I suppose it would seem reasonable to say that an area that has a large wolf population it’s likely that the wolves are killing a lot of animals to support the needs of the wolf population and an area with a small wolf population is likely killing fewer animals to support the wolf population. It’s also likely that as the population of wolves in any specific area increases the population of typical wolf prey will decrease and that decrease will not likely be a one-to-one correspondence but will be an exponential decrease in prey because the efficiency of wolves hunting rapidly increases as the wolf pack grows in numbers. It’s also likely that some of the animals that the wolves kill are domesticated animals and as the population of wolves in any geographical area increases the threat to domesticated animals also increases.

        Are those “reasonable” givens?

        Based on those givens, wouldn’t it seem reasonable to adjust the wolf hunts based on the population of the wolves in a specific geographical area therefore one area may have a smaller allowable wolf kill number than another?

        Wolves are at or the top of the food chain in many areas and if wolves are not hunted what happens, they will physically dominate the area and the population of all their prey will decrease exponentially as the size of the pack grows. It seems to me that the goal of wolf hunts should be to maintain/limit the size of the wolf pack in any specific geographical area so the wolves don’t physically dominate the area thus wiping out their prey and then preying on domesticated animals.

        There’s more at stake in any specific geographical area than just the extinction of the wolves, how about the extinction of their prey and the destruction of domesticated animals. There needs to be a balance so we don’t need to go to extremes because of wolf hunt perceptions but regulate wolf hunting based on real information.


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