Wolf hunting debate continues as advocates gather - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wolf hunting debate continues as advocates gather to unify their message

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MADISON (WKOW)-- Wolf hunting has been a controversial topic here in Wisconsin ever since the state decided to allow hunting last year. This year the hunt started on October 15th and will end in February.

On Saturday afternoon several advocacy groups gathered at the Madison Public Library's Hawthorne Branch. It's safe to say everyone who attended the meeting cares an awful lot about the state's wolf population, but the opinions on how to protect them from going back on the endangered species list are wide ranging.

"There are a number of wolf advocacy groups spread out all over Wisconsin and the problem is we're not one unified voice," Elizabeth Huntley of Wisconsin Wolf Defenders says. "That's really what we want to do. We want to strategize."

The hosting group Wisconsin Wolf Front invited advocates, wild life experts and DNR officials to the event. Each entity was able to bring a different perspective to the table.

"Citizens of our state really do care about the wildlife and the other natural resources in the state. I think today is a great example of that," DNR Large Carnivore Specialist David MacFarland says.

Right now we're currently in the middle of this year's wolf hunting season in the state of Wisconsin. The state is actually separated into six hunting zones. Altogether the DNR has set a statewide quota of 251 wolves. In all but one of those zones the quota has already been met by hunters. Zone three in the nation's upper west corner hunters are still working to meet their 71 wolf quota.

State law says that after December 3rd hunters can start using dogs to help them hunt the wolves. Hunters say it's a traditional practice that helps manage the state's population. Advocacy groups however call the act state sanctioned dog-fighting.

"We know that wolves kill dogs. Wolves are very territorial and when dogs come into their territory especially during certain times of the year they will kill dogs," Huntley says.

The group's goal is to eventually build a political action committee and also hire a lobbyist to communicate their opinions to the Wisconsin state legislature. First they'll have to come together on various issues, which members say will take some time to achieve.

The wolf advocacy groups plan to hold another meeting in Wausau next May. They plan to hold many others in preparation for next year's legislative session.

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