President Teddy Roosevelt is widely considered the father of conservation. In his book, The Wilderness Hunter, which detailed his experiences in the Dakota Badlands during the 1880's, Roosevelt referred to wolves as “the beasts of waste and desolation.”

Wolf population growth has gone unchecked while wolves have had protection from an Endangered Species Act that has been hijacked by high priced (and well paid) lawyers hired by liberal environmental animal rights groups. Countless lawsuits have been brought by environmental groups and upheld by liberal federal judges who have stripped the ability of local and state wildlife officials to manage the population growth.  What is transpiring is a conservation tragedy of monumental proportions.  All across North America, moose, elk, mule deer and white tailed deer are in steep decline anywhere wolf populations are thriving.

                             Whitetail deer disappearing from the Northwoods

What was once a great success story in the recovery of the Wisconsin white tailed deer population has become a tragic story by the irresponsible non-management of the grey wolf as mandated by a federal judge. The recovery of the white-tailed deer population was asked for and funded directly by the sportsmen and sportswomen, yet they were not afforded a stake in the management of the largest canine predator to the deer herd. The currently unmanaged grey wolf population is destroying what so many worked so hard to accomplish.

By 2004 the grey wolf surpassed the population goal of 350 individual wolves with an over winter minimum count of 373. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) performs an annual over winter count, when wolf numbers are lowest, to come up with the minimum count. Knowing this is the minimum count and that not all areas in Wisconsin were being tracked at that time (or even today), the population goal of 350 was likely met in the late 1990’s.  The 2004 Wisconsin total deer harvest by all legal means was 516,366. This was a testament to the hard work of the WI DNR and the sportsmen and sportswomen considering the harvest in 1919 was only 25,152.

Fast forward to 2015/2016. The latest over winter minimum wolf count reported by the WI DNR is 897 wolves and 222 wolf packs. This is an increase of 240% in just 12 years, and is at a minimum 547 grey wolves over the population goal of 350. The 2015 Wisconsin total deer harvest by all legal means was only 309,829. This is a decrease in white-tailed deer harvest of 40% or 206,537 in that same an 11 year time span and one can only predict the 2016 white-tailed deer harvest will be lower yet. The effects of this irresponsible non-management of the grey wolf to the Wisconsin white-tailed deer harvest is a conservation travesty to say the least.

Wisconsin cannot sustain a healthy deer herd and an overpopulated and unmanaged grey wolf population at the same time. Northern Wisconsin will very likely see the white-tailed deer population drop below pre-management levels in the next decade if the grey wolf is not delisted following the population criteria the U.S. Wildlife Services has already approved.

Moose are disappearing

Moose populations are in alarming decline in North America. One can do a Google search in an attempt to find explanations for the dramatic decline and you will get returns for everything from global warming, brain worms, parasites, and alien abduction.  The fact is that moose are disappearing from our continent and in particular, moose are disappearing in the same geographical areas that wolf populations are exploding.

Over the past decade, Minnesota's herd of moose has dropped roughly 60 percent, from a high of approximately 8,840 animals in 2006 to 2,760 in 2013.  2016's aerial survey by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources put the number of moose in the state at 3,450. The steep downward trend over the past decade is troubling news to moose biologists, hunters, guides and those who make their living in tourism-based jobs.  
During the time of the moose decline, the grey wolf population has nearly doubled. The 2015 estimated population of wolves in northern Minnesota was 2.221 wolves living in 374 packs.   Wolves eat moose.  Wolves eat a lot of moose.

One Minnesota DNR research project shows that wolves have killed just over a third of the adult moose in the study. And in a parallel study, wolves killed three-fourths of 40 collared moose calves before the research was halted last year over controversy about its impact on the newborn animals.

Moose Mortality
Source:  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Moose numbers have been in such decline that Minnesota cancelled its hunting season in 2013 and environmental groups are petitioning the United States Wildlife Service for federal Endangered Species protection.

The irony is that the grey wolf, which no longer needs federal protection through the ESA, is a major contributor to the decline in the moose population which now needs federal protection through the Endangered Species Act.  This is a clear example of how not properly following the ESA guidelines is a direct threat to other species. 

Moose in Yellowstone

Traveling to Yellowstone National Park hoping to view a moose?  Good luck.  Recent population estimates of moose in the park are down 90%.  The National Parks Service estimates that there are fewer than 200 moose left in the park, and many locals claim they are, in reality, gone from the park. 

Elk Herds being Devastated

Disappearing Elk from Yellowstone

Elk have long been a fixture of the landscape of Yellowstone National Park, but the once-abundant animals have become scarcer as of late. In the past 20 years, the population has fallen from tens of thousands of elk to just a few thousand. And every summer, when elk migrate into Yellowstone National Park, fewer calves are spotted in the herd. Below is an analysis showing the decline in the Yellowstone elk since 1994 comparing the growth in the population of wolves.  The trends are alarming.

Western States Decline

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's rings the alarm bell over the devastation of western states' elk herd decline.

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 205,000 strong, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) has conserved more than 6.7 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. 

The RMEF's position on wolf management has evolved as they have witness the devastating effect that wolves have on the western elk herds.

The Northern Yellowstone elk herd trend count dropped from some 19,000 elk in 1995 before the introduction of the Canadian Gray wolf to just over 6,000 elk in 2008. At the same time the wolf numbers in this same area are on a steady increase.

Yellowstone’s Madison Firehole elk herd trend count has fallen from 700 to 108. The Gallatin Canyon elk herd trend count between Bozeman and Big Sky, MT, has declined from 1,048 to 338.

Wolf numbers in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have far exceeded the original goals of 30 breeding pairs and 300 total wolves. Population estimates now exceed 1,700 wolves, and yet and others want to push the total up to 2,000 to 5,000 wolves.

Studies show that wolves kill up to 23 elk per wolf from November through April alone which equates to 40,000 elk in just six months. A smaller but still significant number are killed from May through October; with total annual elk kills by wolves just for food potentially greater than 50,000 at the present level of wolf population. This accounts for only the elk needed for food, not surplus killing, which are elk killed by wolves and not eaten, which also occurs.

The majority of all these kills are not elk that are sick or old.  Elk calf survival rates where wolves (and bears) are present are extremely low in specific herds, resulting in a survival rate of 10 percent.  
This is too low to sustain the herd over the long-term. RMEF points out this is a major issue as elk numbers going into the future, where wolves are concentrated, will suffer even greater losses and replacement becomes out of balance.


How many wolves inhabit Wisconsin?  The  2019 - 2020 wolf monitoring reports counts 1034 - 1057 wolves in 256 packs, a 13.1% increase.  Using a new method that has been used in others states for years, the WI winter wolf estimate is 957 - 1573 with the most probable number as measured at the lowest point in the population cycle being 1195.

How many deer do wolves eat?  Check out the link below to review an analysis of the 2015 deer season vs. wolf deer kill by county in the Northern Forest Land

Please click the link below to see the relationship between the White-tailed deer harvest decline and the increase in unmanaged wolf population.