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Hunter proposes grey wolf hunt

The hunter who has prompted a statewide question about a possible wolf hunt in Wisconsin says he doesn't believe there's any other ethical way to keep the wolf population in check.

Last April, Dennis Chitko of Armstrong Creek went to the one of the spring conservation hearings held every year around the state.

He filled out a form asking that this year the Wisconsin Conservation Congress place a question on the spring meeting ballot as to whether the state should set up a public hunting season for the grey wolf.

The Conservation Congress, official advisors to the DNR Board, has agreed to allow the question this April.

Chitko says even though the grey wolf in Wisconsin has only been off the federal list of endangered and threatened species in the state for less than a year, their numbers are getting relatively large.

He says like any animal population it has to be regulated to avoid overpopulation.

He says he thinks they do have an impact on the deer herd.

The DNR estimates the wolf population at about 550.

Chitko says about two years ago in Forest County, state and federal wildlife officials trapped and relocated a wolf that was bothering farm livestock.

However, the DNR says thanks to last year's delisting, officials and landowners can also kill problem wolves: 40 were put down in 2007.

Adrian Wydeven, DNR wolf expert, says the agency has been aggressively trying to control problem wolves in areas where they were harming livestock and pets, but they want to carefully examine the impacts before moving ahead with a public harvest.

But Dennis Chitko says he's heard from some hunters who claim they aren't afraid to illegally shoot wolves so he says it would be better to have a formal hunting season.

The Conservation Congress ballot question will only be advisory.

Any wolf hunt would need legislative approval and not begin for at least several years.