Wolf - Western Great Lakes
Midwest Region


Map of Region 3 Minnesota Wisconsin Michigan


Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

Archived Information - Control of Depredating Wolves in Wisconsin:

Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Environmental Assessment:
Management of Wolf Conflicts and Depredating Wolves in Wisconsin


Gray wolf (Canis lupus) populations in North America, including the wolf population in Wisconsin, have undergone a dramatic recovery in recent years due to protection from persecution. However, the combination of an increasing Wisconsin wolf population, human encroachment on wild habitats and conversion of natural landscapes to agricultural and urban environments has led to increased conflicts between wolves and humans. Conflicts with wolves include predation on livestock and pets, and risks to human safety from potentially hazardous or threatening wolves. Management of conflicts with wolves is addressed in the Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan (WWMP; WDNR 1999) and in the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan (USFWS 1992). Prompt, professional management of damage and conflicts with wolves is an important component of wolf recovery efforts because it facilitates local public acceptance and tolerance of wolves (Fritts 1993, Mech 1995, WDNR 1999, 50 CFR 17.40(o)). The United Stated Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Services (WS), the United States Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) have prepared an environmental assessment (EA) evaluating ways by which the agencies may work together to resolve conflicts with wolves in Wisconsin. The EA documented the need for wolf damage management (WDM) in Wisconsin and assessed potential impacts on the human environment from the various alternatives for responding to wolf damage problems in Wisconsin, including the USFWS issuance of permits and establishment of 4(d) rules allowing the lethal removal of wolves for WDM under authorities in Section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act. The EA analyzes the potential environmental and social effects of alternatives for protecting domestic animals and human safety on private and public lands throughout the State.


WS was the lead agency in the preparation of the EA, and the USFWS and WDNR were cooperating agencies The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), Wisconsin Ho-Chunk Nation, and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians were consulting agencies in the production of the EA. The USFWS has the primary statutory authority, under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), for managing federally protected species including wolves. While wolves are federally protected as an endangered or threatened species, permits or special 4(d) rules must be issued by the USFWS before select non-lethal (aversive conditioning and non-lethal projectiles) and all lethal WDM techniques may be used. WS is the Federal program authorized by law to provide assistance with the reduction of damage caused by wildlife. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides for the control, management, restoration, conservation and regulation of birds, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state. The Tribes exercise similar authority on tribal lands, in addition to having retained the right to hunt, fish, and gather on lands and waters in the ceded territories. The GLIFWC represents tribal interests in wildlife management on lands in the ceded territories.


The agencies prepared the EA to assist in planning WDM activities; to clearly communicate with the public the analysis of cumulative effects for a number of issues of concern in relation to alternative means of meeting needs for such management in the State, including the potential cumulative impacts on wolves and other wildlife species; and to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The analysis in the EA covers current and future WDM actions by WS, the USFWS, and the WDNR while wolves are federally protected under the ESA1. Comments from the public involvement processes for the EA and permit application were reviewed for substantive issues and alternatives which were considered in developing this decision (Chapter 6 of the EA).


The proposed action (EA Alternative 2) of WS, the WDNR, and the USFWS is to permit and conduct an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM) program for wolves on public and private lands in Wisconsin. The IWDM approach, commonly known as Integrated Pest Management (WS Directive 2.105), involves the simultaneous or sequential use or recommendation of a combination of methods to reduce damage. Wolf damage and conflict management is not based on punishing offending animals but as one means of reducing damage and is used as part of the WS Decision Model (Slate et al. 1992, USDA 1997 revised, WS Directive 2.201). The WDNR, organizations, associations, groups, and individuals have requested USFWS and WS assistance with the management of wolf conflicts and wolf damage in Wisconsin. All wolf damage management activities would be conducted in compliance with relevant laws, regulations, policies, orders and procedures, including the Endangered Species Act of 1973.


Wildlife Services (APHIS-USDA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each signed a Finding of No Significant Impact.

PDF of Complete FONSI signed by Wildlife Services (10 pages)
PDF of Complete FONSI signed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (10 pages)


Back to Archives


Last updated: September 12, 2016