Volunteers Needed To Help Monitor Wolf Populations In Wisconsin

Volunteers Needed To Help Monitor Wolf Populations In Wisconsin
Wolf tracking training sessions and ecology courses set.

Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wisconsin – People interested in volunteering to help locate and count gray wolves and other forest carnivores in the coming year can learn how at a series of upcoming training sessions.

In Wisconsin wolves are a protected wild animal under state law, and due to court action on July 1, 2009, are again an endangered species under federal law.

Volunteer trackers are assigned survey blocks in forest portions of northern and central Wisconsin, and are asked to conduct three or more surveys in their assigned block each winter. Information they gather can be compiled with that of other volunteers to aid Department of Natural Resources biologists in evaluating wolf populations.

Wolf and Carnivore Tracker Training sessions are scheduled:

  • Nov. 7, Ashland, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Highway 2 & G, west of Ashland.
  • Dec. 5, Babcock, Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, 1 mile north of Highway 173 along County Road X.
  • Dec. 5-6, Grantsburg, Crex Meadow Visitor Center, along County Highway D, 1 mile north of Grantsburg.
  • Dec. 12, Tomahawk, Treehaven UW-Stevens Point Field Station on Pickerel Creek Road off County A.

Training sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Applicants should register as soon as possible because space is limited. Please try to register at least two weeks before each session. There is a small fee for the classes. The training at Crex Meadows near Grantsburg on Dec. 5-6 will be by world renowned tracker, Dr. James Halfpenny. Cost of the workshop has yet to be determined.

Details about the volunteer tracking program and the wolf ecology and tracking training sessions are available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site.

In late winter 2009 DNR biologists counted between 626 and 662 wolves in the state, including 599 or more outside Indian reservations. As of early fall, 62 wolves were being radio tracked by Wisconsin DNR pilots. Normally about one-third of the state packs are monitored by radio-telemetry, the remaining packs are monitored by DNR and volunteer trackers.

In 2009, 174 volunteer trackers surveyed 88, 200-square-mile survey blocks covering 8,062 miles of snow-covered roads and trails. Volunteers averaged 4.2 surveys per block, covering 91.6 miles, conducting 15 hours of tracking per block, and detected more than 367 different wolves.

“With the continued spread of the state wolf population and reduced funding for surveys, the volunteer carnivore tracking program is critical for us to obtain accurate counts of the state wolf population,” said Adrian Wydeven, DNR mammal ecologist who coordinates the state wolf program. “These surveys will continue to be important for long-term conservation of wolves and other forest carnivores in Wisconsin.”

Volunteers are also helpful in other ways, Wydeven said. Last fall, several volunteers conducted hunter outreach in the field and made contacts with deer hunters across several northern counties. During the spring volunteers helped with wolf trapping, radio collaring, donations of radio collars, and howl surveys as well as staffing educational booths at sport shows and other events.

Volunteers are also strongly encouraged to take a wolf ecology course if they have not done so already, and biologists recommend taking the ecology course before signing up for track training workshops. Wolf ecology courses will be offered next year on the following dates at the locations listed.

  • Jan. 23-24, Babcock – Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, Babcock, $75 (includes 2 meals & dorm lodging). Contact Dick Thiel at [email protected]
  • Jan. 30-31, Fall Creek – Beaver Creek Reserve, cost $70 contact the Beaver Creek Reserve at [email protected]
  • Jan. 30-31, Tomahawk – Treehaven, cost $105-$140 (includes meals; opt. lodging), contact Treehaven at [email protected]
  • Feb. 20-21, Babcock – Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center, cost $75 (includes 2 meals & dorm lodging), contact Dick Thiel at [email protected]
  • Feb. 27-28, Tomahawk – Treehaven, cost $105-$140 (includes meals; opt. lodging), contact Treehaven at [email protected]

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Adrian Wydeven – (715) 762-1363