DNR chief vows to bring wolf plan up for vote in October

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ policy board will get a finalized wolf management plan in October, the agency’s leader said Wednesday.

The DNR in November released a draft of its first new wolf management plan in almost 25 years. The draft erases the current 350-animal population goal, recommending instead that the department work with local advisory committees on whether local packs should grow or be reduced. DNR estimates released in September put the statewide wolf population at around 1,000 animals.

The change has proven contentious, with hunters demanding a numeric population goal. Such goals form the basis of kill limits during hunting seasons. Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would mandate a specific population goal in the new plan.

The DNR has received more than 3,500 comments from the public and stakeholders on the draft plan.

DNR Secretary Adam Payne told the policy board during a meeting Wednesday that agency staff is reviewing the comments and promised revisions. He did not elaborate on any possible changes.

He said the department plans to present a finalized plan to stakeholders between July and mid-September. Agency officials will bring the final plan to the board for a vote in October, he said.

Assuming the plan is approved, DNR staff will begin drafting administrative rules implementing it in December. The approval process for such rules can take months if not years.

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