By Brooks Hays
Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are closing another wolf hunting zone tonight, effective at 6:30 p.m. local time. Two other hunting zones were shut down on Sunday, and another closed the week prior. Only two zones will remain open.
Wisconsin is one of the few states outside of Alaska to allow a short hunting and trapping season for gray wolves. The gray wolf is no longer federally protected -- it was de-listed in 2012 -- but it is still illegal to kill the majestic pack predators in most states. Populations have rebounded in much of the West and Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, where state wildlife agencies have attempted to sponsor annual hunting programs.
Predictably, those attempts have been accompanied by considerable controversy, with environmental advocates arguing wolf numbers weren't high enough to withstand a hunting season, heavily regulated or not. Earlier this year, Michigan nixed their plans to host another wolf season after scientists said the state's wolf numbers were down for the second year in a row.
Wisconsin wildlife officials set a maximum kill limit of 150 animals this year, and as of Monday hunters in the state had taken 85 wolves. It's estimated that there are somewhere between 700 and 800 wolves in the state. More information on the wolf hunting regulations in Wisconsin can be found at the natural resources department website.