Illinois could soon have a wolf problem, and the state’s department of natural resources is preparing for that possibility.
Wolves were hunted to extinction in Illinois more than 150 years ago, but five have been sighted in the state in the last three years. In response, state wildlife officials are drafting plans to manage wolves in the future.
“Is it certainly something that people need to be aware of? At the moment, probably not. Long-term? Probably yes,” said Tim Schweizer, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Schweizer says the wolves seem to be coming from Wisconsin, but have been found as far south as Pike County. While the day that wolves are commonplace in Illinois forests may be a ways off, hunters should be careful that they don’t kill any when they’re out hunting for coyotes.
“Wolves are a threatened species throughout the entire state of Illinois,” Schweizer said.
If a permanent population of wolves becomes established in Illinois, Schweizer says they would find a suitable habitat in forests in the southern tip of the state, along with parts of northwest and west-central Illinois.