Two high-profile animal species are making remarkable comebacks in Wisconsin and Georgia. Upper Midwestern wolves and Southern loggerhead turtles are showing marked increases in recent animal population counts.
Wolf Numbers Have Doubled
In Wisconsin, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials report the wolf population has reached roughly 550, up from 250 in the year 2000. State officials are beginning to consider if and when to allow hunting of the formerly endangered wolf.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Upper Midwestern wolves from the endangered species list as a result of strong population gains throughout Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. State officials now have primary decision-making authority regarding wolf management plans.
Minnesota officials have enacted a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting that may or may not be renewed when it expires. Although no formal moratorium is in place in Wisconsin, hunting is not currently allowed.
Wisconsin farmers and hunters are increasingly expressing concern about livestock and pet losses due to wolf attacks. In 2007, wolves killed 30 cattle, 13 dogs, six sheep, and one horse in the state. Midway through 2008, wolves had killed almost as many pets and livestock as in all of 2007.
Each year DNR financially reimburses livestock and pet owners for their losses. DNR paid out nearly $70,000 in compensation for wolf kills in 2007.
Turtle Nests Set Record
In Georgia, state Department of Natural Resources officials report a record number of loggerhead turtle nests along the 100 miles of state beaches.
Loggerhead turtles have been listed by the federal government as endangered for the past 30 years, but recent population gains up and down the South Atlantic coast have federal officials considering upgrading them to threatened status.
Loggerhead nesting season runs from May 1 through September 1. By August 1, a full month before nesting season ended, Georgia officials reported the number of loggerhead nests had already broken previous records. As of August 1, state officials counted 1,544 loggerhead nests, breaking the record 1,504 nests counted in 1989.
James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.