The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board voted Monday to allow for a wolf hunting season amid an ongoing legal challenge.
The board unanimously voted to allow 200 wolves to be harvested between Feb. 22 and Feb. 28. The move comes after the Trump Administration delisted the gray wolf from the endangered species list, which went into effect in January.
Wisconsin state law requires a wolf hunt every year from November to February if wolves do not have federal protection. The state’s DNR planned to resume wolf hunts in November of 2021, but the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the group Hunter Nation to allow a wolf hunt this winter.
The groups claim the Wisconsin DNR violated state law and the Wisconsin constitution by not allowing a wolf hunt.
The Biden administration is currently reviewing all Trump administration environmental decisions, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did write to environmental groups to defend the decision to delist wolves, according to The Hill.
The wolf hunt approved by the board is meant to keep wolf populations stable in the state, according to meeting materials. Last year, Wisconsin wolf numbers hovered around 1,034 - 1,057, according to the Wisconsin DNR.
Board Vice Chair Greg Kazmierski pointed out that allowing select wolf hunting permits could reduce illegal harvests.
“If we actually have a season, those non-harvest mortalities… will probably reduce from what our current numbers are,” Kazmierski said.
Because the season is short this year, the board also upped the number of permits from 2,000, as recommended by the DNR, to 4,000. Applications for the permits will be open from Tuesday through Saturday.