Series: Wisconsin's Wolves

Nearly everything about wolves is controversial. Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states with a gray wolf population. After being hunted to the brink of extinction in most states, the state granted the species legal protections in the 1950s, followed by federal listing in the 1970s. Since then, wolf numbers have not only recovered, but they've seen a relative boom in population. These predators play a big role in their ecosystem by feeding on deer and other prey, but their hunts also cross paths with livestock, causing grievances among ranchers and farmers. A hunting season was briefly opened in the early 2010s, and there is plenty of other proposed legislation surrounding their management. Wolves also claim strong support among advocates for continued protection. Whatever policies are in place, this charismatic species drives public passion and scientific interest.
 
Volunteers are an integral part of helping the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources keep track of the state's gray wolf population, which has grown in size and range over the past several decades.
Isle Royale's main draws are wilderness and wildlife, including beaver, otters, moose, martens and – for the moment – a very few wolves.
The traditional way to track wolves involves setting traps, sedating and then radio-collaring individual animals. While effective, this approach is time intensive and expensive, and entails risks for the animals.
It's not an undertaking that most people must think about in everyday life, but dealing with cow carcasses is serious and oftentimes strenuous business.
Across wide swaths of Wisconsin, black bears and gray wolves have long played an important and prominent role in the food chain. But human activities can threaten populations of these wild animals, especially when they are considered a threat to agriculture.
In recent decades, ranchers and federal agencies have spent a lot of time figuring out how to expand and improve the use of dogs to guard livestock.
In an attempt to educate and advocate for state control of the gray wolf population, Wisconsin state legislators Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, hosted the Great Lakes Wolf Summit in September 2016.
A new study suggests the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been underestimating the number of wolves killed illegally for years.
A former state wildlife biologist contends that Wisconsin's high wolf numbers may not be the driving factor behind a record 40 hunting dogs killed by wolves this bear season.
For Erik Olson, an assistant professor of natural resources at Northland College in Ashland, the biggest weakness in Wisconsin's policy toward wolves hasn’t been any one particular policy decision.