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June 19, 2013

Wisconsin Voters Support Protecting Wolves by 8 to 1 Margin

New poll shows Wisconsin voters statewide oppose a reckless trophy hunt of wolves

A statewide survey reveals Wisconsin voters, by more than an eight-to-one margin, strongly oppose the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves, with strong majorities in every demographic group and political affiliation supporting wolf protection. The survey was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research and commissioned by The Humane Society of the United States.

The survey also found that by more than a 9-to-1 margin, Wisconsin voters oppose the use of traps, bait and packs of dogs to kill wolves for sport. In addition, 85 percent of voters statewide support a ban on using packs of dogs to chase down and hunt wolves. 

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from the Endangered Species list even though the wolf population is only around 800 in the entire state. The removal placed authority for managing the species in the hands of individual states where livestock and other special interests wield considerable influence on decision makers. After more than 40 years of protection and despite the population’s fragile status, the Wisconsin legislature approved a bill in 2012 to allow the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves.

Alyson Bodai, Wisconsin state director at The HSUS said: “Wolves are an important part of our ecosystem and are just starting to recover in our state after being on the brink of extinction. These survey results confirm that Wisconsin residents want wolves protected and will not tolerate the trophy hunting and trapping of these remarkable animals.”

On June 26, the Natural Resources Board will vote on a proposed recommendation to increase the quota of wolves to be hunted during the 2013 trophy hunting season from 201 in 2012 to 275. When combined with other forms of human-caused wolf mortality, this could result in 50 percent of the entire wolf population being killed. In Wisconsin, wolves may be killed in the cruelest and most unsporting methods, including trapping wolves in painful steel-jawed leg hold traps where animals may suffer for hours or even days, shooting wolves over piles of bait and even using packs of dogs to chase down and kill wolves.

The survey also asked voters about lax laws that allow private ownership of dangerous wild animals. Wisconsin is one of only six states without some provision for protecting animals as well as residents and communities from the risks inherent in allowing anyone to own a tiger, lion, bear or other dangerous wild animal. The survey found that a large majority of Wisconsin voters, 79 percent, said they would support legislation to prohibit private citizens from owning wild animals, such as chimpanzees, tigers and bears as pets.

The poll of 625 statewide Wisconsin voters was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. from June 13 – June 15, 2013. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent. For the full survey results visit, humanesociety.org/wisconsin-wolves-poll-results.

Timeline:

  • April 2012 - July 2012 – Wisconsin enacts legislation mandating a wolf hunting and trapping season, requiring that the state wildlife agency authorize the use of dogs, night hunting and snare and leg-hold traps. The state wildlife agency adopts regulations for the hunting and trapping of wolves in 2012-2013 via emergency rules.
  • September 2012 – The USFWS issues a final ruling delisting gray wolves in Wyoming from federal Endangered Species Act protections.
  • Oct. 15, 2012 – Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping season begins, marking the first public hunting and trapping season in the Great Lakes region in nearly 40 years. The HSUS and others send notice of their intent to sue the USFWS over its unlawful decision to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region.
  • October 2012 - January 2013 – Trophy hunting and trapping as well as depredation programs and illegal killings resulted in 243 wolves being killed in Wisconsin.
  • February 2013– The HSUS and other wildlife protection groups file a lawsuit to restore federal protections for Great Lakes wolves.

 Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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