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Wildlife group offers $10,000 reward for prosecution of wolf poachers | Science & Environment

Gray wolf

Wildlife protection group Animal Wellness Action is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to prosecution of poachers while Wisconsin’s wolf hunt is on hold.

With Wisconsin’s wolf hunt on hold, a wildlife protection group is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to prosecution of poachers.

Animal Wellness Action says it is “alarmed” by online chatter from people saying they plan to “take matters into their own hands” after a judge suspended the statutory hunting season for gray wolves.

An injunction issued by Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost put a hold on wolf hunting while he considers a lawsuit brought by Animal Wellness Action and other wildlife conservation groups.

Paul Collins, the state director for Animal Wellness Action, said the group has been monitoring “endless” online chatter since hunters killed at least 218 wolves  more than the state and tribal quotas combined  in less than three days during a court-ordered hunt in February.

“I paid for a point I will pay for a fine they are not endangered anymore so not a big fine,” one user on the Wisconsin Wolf Hunting Facebook page said in response to a post about cancellation of the fall season.

“Well I guess I will just shoot large ‘coyotes’ then,” said another.

“Your local Dnr doesn’t care if you start your own wolf elimination program … SSS!” a Minnesota resident posted, using a common abbreviation for “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

Circuit Court Judge Bennett J. Brantmeier also said the agency must hold a hunt immediately any time federal protections are lifted during the statutory hunting season, which runs from November through February.

A 2011 state law requires the state Department of Natural Resources DNR to hold an annual wolf hunt between November and February when wolves are not subject to federal protections.

The law also allows people to shoot wolves in the act of “killing, wounding or biting a domestic animal” on private property. Such killings must be reported to the DNR and the wolf carcass turned over.

DNR spokesperson Sarah Hoye said the agency has received three reports this year of wolves killed in the act of depredation  all in Price County  but “has not encountered any trend of unlawful harvest arising this fall or related to the injunction.”

Hoye said the DNR monitors comments on its social media accounts.

“We send any comment that mentions poaching to law enforcement for investigation,” Hoye said. “Additionally, if someone mentions that they know of someone who is poaching, we encourage them to report the information they have via our violation hotline.”

In his October order, Frost said the law creating the wolf season is constitutional, but the DNR failed to create permanent regulations enacting it.

Frost said his injunction will remain in place until the DNR implements updated regulations on determining quotas and the number of licenses it issues and updates its wolf management plan with new wolf population goals for the state. It’s not clear how long that will take.

The DNR announced in October that it would not issue licenses for the fall season.

The state is facing a separate challenge from six Native American tribes that have sued in federal court to block the hunt, accusing the DNR of violating treaty rights and endangering an animal they consider sacred.

Anyone with knowledge of illegal wolf hunting can submit a report through the DNR Tip Hotline at 1-800-847-9367.

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