Local wolf harvest zone to close Wednesday
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday announced the closure of the second hunting zone for the 2013 wolf season, and two more zones are expected to close within days.
Zone 1, which covers northwestern Wisconsin and includes Douglas, Bayfield and Ashland counties, will close to hunting and trapping of gray wolves, effective at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"Harvest trends in Zone 1 have been steady with an increased harvest rate over the past few days," said David MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist. "We will be considering harvest trends as we approach quotas in other zones as well."
As of Tuesday afternoon, Zones 4 and 5 fell on the verge of closing. Zone 4 was four wolves shy of its 12-wolf quota, and Zone 5 was three from its 34-wolf quota.
Tom Hauge, DNR wildlife management director, said he expects both zones to close within the coming days.
"We always try to come as close to the quota as we can," Hauge said.
The closure of Zone 1 was prompted by a jump in harvest numbers Tuesday.
Hauge said calls came in steadily as hunters and trappers reported their kills. Successful hunters and trappers have 24 hours to report their kill.
The wolf harvest quota for Zone 1 was set at 76 wolves, and the closure process was initiated when 72 wolves were reported as harvested.
The final tally when the zone closes Wednesday may be slightly higher or lower than the set quota, but Hauge said it will be close.
The DNR tracks harvest totals daily. Call-in reporting allows the DNR to keep close tabs on the harvest, Hauge said, but the department lacks the historical data needed to map out and forecast trends.
"It's a little bit like the stock market in that it goes up and down," Hauge said.
Zone 2 closed earlier this month, finishing two wolves over its quota. Those numbers have since been revised, and the zone now stands one over its quota of 28.
The wolf season remains open in Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6, but hunters and trappers are advised to verify a zone's status daily. Notice of closures is posted online (dnr.wi.gov) and is announced on the wolf call-in number, 1-855-299-9653.
"Our ultimate goal is to harvest 251 wolves, distributed across the landscape," MacFarland said. "The harvest zones are a tool by which we attempt to direct the harvest to achieve desired outcomes. ... This is our second season, and we continue to learn information about harvest success that will be valuable in future management decisions."
Wolf Harvest by Zone
Zone 1 76 72 (Closed, 7 p.m. Wed.)
Zone 2 28 29 (Closed)
Zone 3 71 5
Zone 4 12 8
Zone 5 34 31
Zone 6 30 21
Total: 251 166
Wolf Harvest by County
Eau Claire 1