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UW-Madison Releases Survey Findings on Wolf Hunt
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 08/23/2013

A survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison to gauge people's opinions on the state's inaugural wolf hunt last fall shows that most people did not increase their tolerance of the animal because of the program.

The questionnaire, which was returned by 772 people living in and outside of areas designated as wolf range, evaluated people's perceptions about the October through December 2012 hunt. All the respondents who were residents of wolf range had also been asked many of the same questions in a 2009 survey, which allowed researchers to see whether opinions of wolf country residents had changed.

Fifty-one percent of the wolf country residents surveyed in 2009 had indicated that they would be more tolerant of wolves if people could hunt them. But in 2013, these respondents showed a net shift towards disagreement that their tolerance had risen after the 2012 wolf-hunt. When examining the entire sample of respondents both inside and outside of wolf range, 37 percent of respondents said they were more tolerant of wolves since people could hunt them.

Very few of the respondents in this year's survey felt that their opinions about wolves in Wisconsin had changed since the 2012 hunt. Eighty-one percent said that their tolerance for wolves had not changed, while 14 percent said they were more tolerant and 5 percent said they were less tolerant. There were no significant differences in self-reported changes in tolerance between residents of wolf-range and non-wolf range.

"If one of the goals of the wolf hunt was to increase tolerance for the species, the first season did not appear to accomplish this objective," says Jamie Hogberg, a graduate student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies who was on the study team.

The researchers also examined support for various restrictions on wolf hunting. Of those living outside of wolf range, 68 percent opposed hunting pups, 61 percent opposed hunting with hounds, 57 percent opposed hunting at night and 61 percent opposed hunting during the breeding and pregnancy seasons.

Among those living in wolf country, 44 percent opposed hunting pups, 36 percent opposed hunting with dogs, 45 percent opposed hunting at night and 37 percent were against hunting during breeding and pregnancy seasons.

Although these results suggest wolf country residents are more lenient about wolf hunting rules, in fact wolf country residents appear to have shifted opinions about these restrictions between the 2009 and 2012 surveys. Opposition to hunting wolf pups and to hunting with dogs both rose seven percent. Support for restrictions on trapping, baiting, out-of-state hunters, predator calling, and hunting only wolves that caused property damage rose by 3-6 percent. However, since 2009 there was also a similar increase in the number of respondents who said they wanted to be able to hunt wolves without restrictions.

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