reVISED Statement of Scope
Department of Natural Resources
This revised statement of scope modifies, SS 027-21, which was approved by the Governor on February 26, 2021, published in Register 783A2, on March 8, 2021, relating to gray wolf harvest regulations.
WM–01–21 (Emergency), WM–02–21 and WM–03–21
Gray wolf harvest regulations, NR Ch’s. 8,10, 12 and 19
Both Permanent and Emergency
1. Finding/nature of emergency:
Wis. Stats. s. 29.185 directs the department to allow the hunting and trapping of gray wolves if the wolf is not listed on the federal or state endangered and threatened species list. The same statute also directs the department to hold a single annual season for both hunting and trapping of wolves which begins on the first Saturday in November. Non-statutory provisions in SECTION 21 of 2011 ACT 169 require the department to promulgate emergency rules necessary for implementation or interpretation of Wis. Stats. s. 29.185 but exempt the department from making a finding of emergency. An emergency rule promulgated under this SECTION remains in effect until a permanent rule is adopted. The department promulgated EmR1210 in compliance with SECTION 21. Although that rule remains in effect, some provisions have been affected by the renumbering or repeal of the underlying code provisions which were the subject of the rule or by statutory changes. Subsequently, gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list on January 4, 2021. The department implemented a gray wolf harvest season in February 2021 as a result of a court order. The timing of the court’s order did not permit the department to engage in rulemaking to align EmR1210 with current laws and regulations and make other substantive changes to promote orderly season administration and enhance tools for ensuring that wolf harvest remains within established limits. In compliance with statutory requirements, the next wolf harvest season will begin in November of 2021. A new emergency rule is necessary in order for the department to implement the November 2021 season. Pursuant to SECTION 21 of 2011 ACT 169, a finding of emergency is not required for this emergency rule. Nonetheless, in order to preserve the welfare of state-licensed hunters, as well as the welfare and sustainability of wolf populations in Wisconsin, the department finds that an emergency rule is necessary to implement harvest regulations.
2. Detailed description of the objective of the proposed rule:
The objectives of this proposed rule are to provide regulated and managed harvest opportunities for gray wolves via hunting and trapping, and to revise the administrative procedures for submission and payment of wolf depredation claims. The desired outcome of these rules is the maintenance of a healthy wolf population at an established population goal.
EmR1210 also established a wolf depredation program that is similar to the existing program that applies when wolves are listed as threatened or endangered and consistent with the wildlife damage, claims and abatement program that is in place for other species (Sections 36-43 EmR1210).
The department plans on bringing three different rules from this scope statement.
The first rule will be an emergency rule. Since 2015, many sections in code which relate to wolf harvest and depredations have been moved or updated and new statutes have been put in place. The purpose of this emergency rule will be to align wolf regulations to reflect the subsequent changes in statute and code. In addition to these measures, this emergency rule will also explore shortening the registration timeline for successful wolf hunters and trappers. It may also explore eliminating night hunting for wolves to establish consistent shooting hours for the wolf hunting season for all methods for hunting wolves.
Additionally, one or more permanent rules may be promulgated from this scope statement. The purpose of one permanent rule will be to permanently codify provisions of EmR1210 as modified by WM-01-21(E) and 2011 ACT 169, as well as the substantive changes included WM-01-21(E). This permanent rule may also establish zone specific tags for wolf management zones.
Finally, the department has begun the process to make updates to its wolf management plan. The department may also bring forward an additional permanent rule from this scope statement that may make any changes which would implement the department’s updated wolf management plan. These changes may include changes to zone structure, registration and tagging requirements and other items related to the management of wolves that would necessitate a change in administrative code. The wolf management plan is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2022.
These rules may make additional updates such as correcting cross-reference citations, updating road names on maps, changes needed to update application forms, revisions necessary to effectuate enforcement, or revisions which are necessary for consistency with recently enacted legislation.
3. Description of the existing policies relevant to the rule, new policies proposed to be included in the rule, and an analysis of policy alternatives:
EmR1210 establishes regulations for method of the harvest, transportation, recording and registration of many harvested animals. A primary objective of these proposed rules is to ensure consistency of regulations with rules and statutes that are currently in place.
Current rules require many game species to be registered by 5 p.m. the day after recovery of the harvested animal. This registration is typically done either online or over the phone. This registration data is important for wolf harvest seasons because the department uses registration data to determine when the quota for a wolf management zone is nearing being filled which then triggers closure of the zone. This proposal will explore shortening the time that wolf harvesters will have to register their harvested game. The current rules potentially allow for a wolf hunter or trapper to wait over 24 hours after the wolf has been recovered to register the animal. With a small quota species such as wolves, the timeliness of closing the season when a quota has been reached is important so that harvest goals are maintained. The current registration structure makes it more difficult to timely obtain accurate harvest information. A shorter registration window will allow the department to more quickly obtain data regarding the number of wolves harvested during a season which may help prevent going over the quota in a management zone.
Current rules allow wolves to be hunted at night. These rules implemented a previous statutory requirement to permit night hunting of wolves. That requirement was removed by 2013 ACT 20, but because wolves were placed back on the federal list of endangered and threatened species shortly after the Act’s passage, the department did not have the opportunity to engage in a review of its rules in response to 2013 Act 20. This rule may eliminate night hunting of wolves to establish consistent shooting hours for the entire wolf hunting season across all methods of hunting wolves.
Hunters and trappers who have been issued a wolf permit are currently allowed to harvest a wolf in any wolf management zone in which the quota has not been met. One potential effect of this allowance has been that quotas within individual zones are quickly approached, resulting in early closures of wolf zones to harvest and a shortened overall wolf harvest season. This rule will explore establishing tags that are zone-specific. This will allow the department to apply different levels of harvest pressure and prevent crowding in individual wolf zones. This could potentially extend the season by allowing the department to regulate how many hunters and trappers are in a particular zone which would provide better opportunity for hunters and trappers and reduce the likelihood that the quota in each zone will be exceeded. This change would be consistent with the department’s administration of other species seasons for which there is a limited draw quota.
4. Detailed explanation of statutory authority for the rule:
The department is directed by s. 29.014, Wis. Stats. to establish regulations for the taking of game that conserve populations, including wolves, and provide opportunities for good hunting. This authorizes the department to establish rules that restrict harvest to safe levels which are established based on population estimates, population goals, and hunter and trapper success rates. This section authorizes other actions such as establishing that wolves are not small game and allows removing them from a protected species list because they will be protected under other rules. Section 21 of 2011 Act 169 directs the department to propose any rules that are necessary to implement or interpret s. 29.185 and 29.888, Wis. Stats. Some provisions of s. 29.185 will be duplicated in administrative code because that is where people are accustomed to finding similar or identical regulatory information for other species. Rule updates on the payments of claims for damage associated with gray wolves will be similar or identical to the language found in s. 29.888. The department is given authority to regulate the types of traps that may be used to harvest wolves under s. 29.185(6)(f) and generally by s. 29.014. The department’s authority with respect to forms of proof and reprints is found s. 23.47(1) and (3)(a). The department is authorized by s. 23.47(1) to designate, by rule, forms of proof of approvals and the locations and times during which those forms of proof are valid. In addition, under s. 23.47(3)(a), the department is authorized to maintain a system under which an individual may obtain a reprint of certain approvals and directed to designate, by rule, who may produce a reprint of an approval, which approvals a reprint may be produced, and the manner in which a reprint of an approval may be produced. Restrictions on the removal of wild animals and the wildlife damage abatement and claims program are established under the authority of ss. 29.014, 29.885 and 29.888. These provisions allow the department to require written authorization for a member of the public to capture and relocate or kill wolves in damage and nuisance situations. Public hunting and trapping of certain species must be allowed for species currently covered under s. 29.885 (4m).
5. Estimate of amount of time that state employees will spend developing the rule and of other resources necessary to develop the rule: