The Trump administration's lifting of a ban on killing gray wolves resulted in killing of at least 216 of them in Wisconsin in three days last week, far exceeding the state's limits amid hunters' concerns that the Biden administration will remove protections.
"These animals were killed using packs of dogs, snares and leg-hold traps," Kitty Block, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said on Tuesday. “It was a race to kill these animals in the most cruel ways."
The Trump administration in January end the wolves' protection under the Endangered Species Act, after announcing two months earlier that the species had rebounded to numbers where government regulation was no longer necessary.
The number of killings of the wolves in Wisconsin was at least in part the Hunters scrambled to take advantage of Trump-era wildlife rules that they worry may be tightened by the Biden administration, according to The New York Times.
Wisconsin set a quota allowing 200 wolves to be hunted, specifically designating 119 to hunters that applied for permits with the Department of Natural Resources and 81 additional wolves allocated to the Ojibwe Tribes under their treaty rights.
However, the tribes consider wolves to be a sacred animal, which resulted in their decision not to hunt the wolves.
In-turn, permit hunters not only exceeded their 119 wolf-limit but also decided to take the tribes remaining wolves and more, totaling well-above the total 200 allocated by the state in less than 60 hours, the New York Times also reports. An estimated 1,200 gray wolves were in the state before the hunting.
Former President Obama removed the species from federal protections, which allowed wolves to be hunted in Wisconsin during the 2014 season. Since then, no wolves have been hunted in the state due to a federal judge who rejected the Obama administration's efforts.
The resurgence in wolves in parts of the country has been called a success by conservationists, but the large hunt has environmentalists hoping the species can be put back onto the list of protected animals under the Biden administration.
The wolf-hunting season was supposed to end on Feb.28 but all hunting zones closed four days early.