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.
 
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.