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Conserving the Nature of America

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

History of Decline, Protection and Recovery


Control of Depredating Wolves in Wisconsin: 2005 to 2006


The Humane Society of the U.S. and others filed suit against the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Service for issuance of a permit to Wisconsin for use of lethal measures to control wolf depredations. On August 9, 2006 a U.S. District Court judge ruled against DOI and the permit was no longer in effect. DOI began an appeal, but when the Gray Wolf Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment was delisted in 2007, the appeal became moot.


August 9, 2006 District Court Judge's Opinion: Humane Society of the United States, et al., vs Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior, et al. (34-page PDF)


May 2006 Endangered Species Permit

Measures to protect pets and livestock from problem wolves in Wisconsin were adopted. The measures, approved by federal and state agencies in consultation with tribes, address wolf depredation control measures using an integrated approach that included lethal and non-lethal measures.


An April 2006 Environmental Assessment was prepared to evaluate a range of options for addressing wolf damage in Wisconsin.


The Environmental Assessment was prepared in response to a Wisconsin DNR application for a permit to "take" (killing, harming) gray wolves for various recovery activities. Gray wolves in Wisconsin are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Permits authorizing removal of problem wolves are provided for under the ESA when those actions are needed for scientific purposes or to enhance survival of a listed species' population. Allowing removal of problem wolves helps ensure that illegal killing of gray wolves is minimized, and public tolerance of wolves in general is maintained.


Following completion of the Environmental Assessment the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a permit (PDF) that provided for full implementation of the integrated management program that allowed control or removal of depredating wolves. The permit was issued to the State of Wisconsin; control actions were carried out by the State of Wisconsin and USDA Wildlife Services, acting as an agent for the state.

A Set of Findings, Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact, Biological Opinion, a copy of the permit (PDF), and the final EA, which included public comments on the draft EA and responses (Chapter 6) can all be viewed from this website.


Set of Findings (May 2006) describe the Service’s rationale for making its recommendation to issue an ESA permit to the Wisconsin DNR. Much of the summary information used in this document is described in detail in the Environmental Assessment and Biological Opinion.


Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact provides the reasons why the proposed action (wolf depredation control in Wisconsin) will not be a significant impact, individually or cumulatively, on the quality of the human environment.


Biological Opinion addresses the effects of issuing an ESA permit to the Wisconsin DNR to conduct research, monitoring, and depredation abatement activities involving the gray wolf.


ESA Permit (PDF) (May 2006) to Wisconsin DNR for wolf recovery activities, including wolf depredation control.


Final Environmental Assessment (April 2006) evaluates the need for wolf depredation control in Wisconsin and alternatives considered for controlling wolf depredation problems.


DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT of issuing permit to Wisconsin DNR for wolf depredation control (available for public review and comment from March 2 thru April 3, 2006)

Draft Environmental Assessment for the Management of Wolf Conflicts and Depredating Wolves in Wisconsin (PDF; 130 pages)



The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted an application for a permit to take gray wolves in order to conduct various recovery activities for the species. An announcement of that permit application was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 14, 2005, which opened a 30-day public comment period. Our review of that permit application included compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which necessitated the preparation of an Environmental Assessment. Below are links to information about Wisconsin DNR's permit application.


Wisconsin DNR permit application (Sept. 2005) to take gray wolves for recovery purposes.

A summary of public comments and FWS responses on the Wisconsin DNR permit application.


Wisconsin DNR draft permit (PDF)

Wisconsin DNR final permit (PDF)


Chronology of Federal Actions
Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes States