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Thursday - January 11, 2018 2:55 am

Contentious wolf management bill has critics howling at public hearing Featured

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Telling wardens not to enforce laws. Ending wolf counts.

It's all part of a contentious measure to end funding for wolf management in Wisconsin.

The contentious proposal would deal with growing wolf populations in Wisconsin. It has some supporters holding their noses.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is among the groups supporting a measure that would yank all state funding for wolf management.

The measure, however, comes with risks, says the group's vice president Al Shook, during a public hearing Wednesday. Among them is the Wisconsin DNR not being allowed to keep track of how many wolves are in the state.

"If no money is spent on the state level to monitor the wolves, we would have no current population status if this draws on for several years," Shook said.

Shook's group, along with many others, say the best way to control the state's growing gray wolf population is for the feds to end wolves' protected status under the Endangered Species Act.

One of the bill's sponsors, Republican Senator Tom Tiffany, said there shouldn't be much debate about it.

"This is a route that we can take to protect sportsmen's dollars here in the state of Wisconsin," Tiffany said. "The federal government can send all the agents they want to in the state of Wisconsin to deal with this if they choose to."

The proposal also prohibits wardens from enforcing federal or state laws related to wolf management, which doesn't make much sense to Democratic state rep. Mark Spreitzer.

"It seems to me," he said, "that we would go from the wolf management program that you're hoping to have, to essentially a free for all, where anybody can kill a wolf under any circumstances in any numbers and not have any enforcement in the state of Wisconsin."

Sponsors admit it's an extreme move that the state needs to take but is how the wolf issue should be addressed, said Democratic state rep. Nick Milroy during the hearing.

"When are members of the Wisconsin legislature gonna stand up and demand Speaker (Paul) Ryan get this done?" Milroy said. "That's all it would take."

Wolf population numbers are now more than three times greater than targets for the state.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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