MADISON (WKOW) — The highly debated wolf hunt has come and gone, but the controversy is far from over.
Friday night several demonstrators gathered outside the state’s Department of Natural Resources building to pay tribute to the 117 wolves killed this season.
Many have been protesting this hunt since it first came up last January. Since then the issue has been discussed in several court proceedings clarifying issues from using dogs to hunting at night. However, the message for a few dozen demonstrators is simple: they simply want it to end.
“We want to honor the wolves that lost their lives to this unnecessary hunt,” one demonstrator says.
The hunt that was the first of its kind. After years of being on the nation’s endangered species list, wolves are no longer the top predator in Wisconsin.
“The wolf is an iconic, beautiful animal very much like us. It is appalling that we are allowing this to happen in our state,” says demonstrator Patricia Randolph.
The group honored the 117 wolves with poems and songs, even lighting candles for each individual wolf, then blowing them out to symbolize their last dying breath.
Down the block a lone demonstrator on the other side of the issue speaks out against wolves that threaten her way of life.
“The wolves in our area, they have been coming onto our lawns,” Shelly Seiler explains. “There was a neighbor dog that was attacked and killed by one.”
Seiler says over the past two years she’s seen the population near her Columbia County home double in size. Without the hunt she’s afraid the population will be out of control.
“We are dairy farmers so there is a small concern about that.”
Demonstrators argue that’s not the hunting they’re concerned about. It’s the trophy hunting that they believe is unnecessary.
“They were on the endangered species list due to hunting, then we bring them back from the brink of being endangered to hunt them. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” says demonstrator Melissa Smith
The Department of Natural Resources has said during this entire debate that an organized wolf hunt will not threaten the local population. Friday’s demonstrators not only question that statement, but argue the DNR’s decision to approve a hunt was motivated by money and not what’s best for the species.