By TODD RICHMOND | Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wolf hunters exceeded Wisconsin's statewide kill limit by four animals, according to the state Department of Natural Resources' final tally.
The agency decided to end the wolf season midday Friday after tallies the day before showed hunters were one wolf over the 150-animal statewide limit. State law allows the hunt to run from Oct. 15 through the last day of February or until hunters reach the limit.
The final kill total was 154 animals, according to the department's website, making it the third straight year hunters have exceeded the limit. In 2013, 257 wolves were killed, six more than the limit. Hunters took 116 wolves, one more than the limit, in 2012, the first year of the organized hunt.
DNR officials haven't offered an explanation for why they didn't announce the season would close sooner to avoid going over the quota.
The wolf hunt has been one of the most contentious outdoor issues Wisconsin has seen in years. Opponents say the state's wolf population is too fragile to support hunting; farmers contend something must be done to curtail attacks on their livestock.
A band of about 10 protesters affiliated with the Wolf and Wildlife Action Group held a short demonstration outside the state Capitol on Monday, lining up posters of injured wolves against the base of the building.
They accused the DNR of mismanaging the hunt by allowing hunters to exceed the kill limit. They also maintained that provisions in state law allowing hunters to trap wolves and chase them with dogs are inhumane and violate the United Nations' nature charter.
“These animals are being tortured,” said protester Grace BlackBear of Sparta, who wore a “Wolf Warrior” T-shirt over her coat. “This is animal abuse.”
The group marched inside to Gov. Scott Walker's office. A police officer refused to let them in but a Walker staff member emerged and listened to their complaints. He said he would relay their problems to the governor's attorneys.
Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick referred questions to the DNR. Agency spokesman Bill Cosh declined to comment.
The DNR's board is scheduled to hear a report on the wolf season Wednesday in Madison.