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Wolf shooting puts DNR in tight spot

good wolves

A close-up of two animals shows the radio collar worn by a wolf, top, which had last been active in December 2002 in Price County. The coyote was used to show the size difference in the two species. Special to the Press-Gazette
Door County man must be fined, or ‘it’s open season’

By Kevin Naze
Press-Gazette correspondent

Wisconsin’s growing population of gray wolves might prove costly to a Door County man who thought he had a coyote in the crosshairs of his scoped rifle Monday along the Ahnapee State Trail southwest of Sturgeon Bay.

The 63-pound female wolf was killed with a single shot from a .300 short magnum rifle at a laser-measured distance of 385 yards.

Department of Natural Resources conservation warden Mike Neal said the minimum fine in an unintentional killing of a wolf is $500 plus court and restitution costs that would push the total to almost $2,000, plus a one-year revocation of hunting licenses.

It was the second wolf illegally taken in Door County in less than 10 months. Last May, an 82-pound male wolf — also incorrectly identified as a coyote — was shot near Baileys Harbor.

An average adult wolf weighs 60 to 80 pounds, according to DNR biologists. Coyotes average 25 to 35 pounds.

No charges were filed last year, but Neal warned that from then on, there would be “no more free rides” now that wolves were possibly in the area.

Monday’s shooter understood he would get some sort of citation but came forward anyway, Neal said.

“We’re backed into a corner,” Neal said.

“We’re darned if we do (charge him) and darned if we don’t. If we do, some people will say, ‘He thought it was a coyote and turned himself in.’ But if we don’t, it’s open season on wolves.”


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