Hunting Wolves with Dogs in Wisconsin

Ignorance can be bliss. But it can also let bad things happen, and it grieves me to say that bad things might happen soon in my home state. In its wisdom, the legislature of the state of Wisconsin signed into law Act 169, which directs that dogs can be used to hunt wolves in our state. The wolf population in Wisconsin, having recovered naturally (no wolves were re-introduced) to over 800 individuals, were removed from the endangered species list in Wisconsin in January of 2012, and the legislature mandated that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) establish rules and regulations for the hunt itself. These rules were developed under “emergency” rule-making process, that began in May and will allow the wolf hunt to begin in October of this year.

The hunt brings up many issues, from the hunt itself to how it is conducted, but the issue on the table right now is the rules and regulations that the DNR has established related to the use of dogs. Or lack of them. Let me start out by saying that, in my opinion, dogs should never be allowed to be used to hunt wolves. Period. In addition, any regulations about how the wolf population is controlled should be based on good, solid science and the recommendations of the people who have studied the species for decades. There are several extremely knowledgeable wildlife ecologists who have been studying wolves for years here, and it appears as though their knowledge and expertise was not a part of the decision-making process.

Changing laws take time, and right now the legislature isn’t even in session. What is highly relevant now is that the DNR was charged with creating rules and regulations about, among other things, how dogs would be used. Here’s what they had to say: Dogs can’t be used at night, and no more than six dogs could be used at any one time. That’s it. Nothing else. You can just take your dogs out there, set ’em after wolves and see what happens. This, in spite of the fact that the law says dogs can be used to “track and trail” wolves, but not necessarily to do anything else (as in engage them in fights.)

The stunning lack of reasonable restrictions on the use of dogs is why I’ve been involved with a lawsuit filed by a group of Humane Societies and citizens, which has asked the courts for an injunction to stop the use of dogs in the hunt until, at a minimum, regulations can be formulated that at least decrease the inevitable suffering that will occur if dogs are set out after wolves. As structured now, it’s nothing less than state-sponsored dog fighting.

Supporters of using dogs to hunt wolves (mostly bear hunters) argue that dogs are essential to a successful hunt, that dogs will be trained to stop on command as soon as they locate a wolf, and that only single wolves will be pursued. Beyond this optimistic set of expectations, the behavior of the wolves themselves appears to be downplayed or ignored. Wolves are territorial animals that don’t take kindly to incursions by other canids. As a matter of fact, one of the arguments for the wolf hunt itself was from bear hunters whose dogs were killed by wolves. (Anyone hunting bear in Wisconsin with dogs can receive $2,500 in compensation if their dog is killed by a wolf, even if the hunt took place in an area targeted by the DNR as not safe for dogs due to previous attacks.) Up to 22 hunting dogs have been killed by wolves in just one year (2008). You can see the details, year by year, on the DNR’s own website. Wildlife ecologists are clear: Setting free-ranging dogs off after wolves, purposefully into known wolf territories (and during the mating season no less) is a recipe for severe injury, if not death, for man’s best friend.

That is why I have agreed to act as an expert witness in the lawsuit, arguing that first, at minimum, dogs MUST be kept on a line. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: dogs ranging far from humans (bear & coyote hunting dogs run far afield of their handlers, usually with GPS collars on so that the hunters can locate them) are at risk of attack from wolves, while dogs close to humans are less so. I’ve also argued, as have others, that the regulations must include restrictions that only allow scent hounds–the dogs bred to track and trail–to be allowed to be used in the hunt. Rumors are flying about hunters bringing in a range of dogs, large dogs who were bred not just to locate prey but to fight with it. Some people are concerned that a breed restriction sounds like a breed ban, but rather it’s a mechanism to try to keep dogs from suffering. Even if all dogs truly were kept on leash (and the DNR argues that that would be difficult to enforce, which is a bit of an understatement), even in the best of circumstances, we all know that “stuff” happens, and that some dogs are going to end up off leash. So which kind should they be? A black and tan coonhound bred to track and trail, or a greyhound that someone picked up cheap from a track that is going to run after a moving wolf until it catches up? Or how about one of the dogs actually used to hunt and kill wolves in Kurkistan? Argh, the thought of it all is truly horrific.

The good news is that the court has granted us a temporary injunction, but it is only temporary. There is a hearing tomorrow, Friday the 14th, in which the state is asking the lawsuit to be dismissed. If it is not, then the issue will come up again at the Natural Resources Board Meeting in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Sept. 26th. I expect to be there to testify that it is a violation of the state’s animal cruelty laws to rush into allowing dogs to hunt wolves without serious information gathering and input from a variety of sources. Several other dedicated folks have also been integrally involved, including wildlife ecologists and wolf experts Randall Jurewicz and  Richard Thiel and Adrian Treves, an expert on “co-existence & conflicts between people and wildlife. I don’t know if they will be at the NRB hearing, but they have been integral to the fight, led by our Alpha Female, Jodi Habush Sinykin from Midwest Environmental Advocates.

I realize that this issue is not relevant to many readers, but it’s too close to my heart and too much a part of my life right now, not to bring it up. I know that dogs are not allowed to hunt wolves in any other state in the US, but that there are a few places in the world where they are used. Given that wolves have been harassed and decimated for centuries all over the world, most places don’t have the luxury of talking about “wolf overpopulation.” It’s been a joy for many of us to watch our wolf population increase, even though, yes, as a livestock producer I do sympathize with the problems that can ensue from living with a large, pack hunting predator. It is absolutely appropriate that livestock producers be compensated for losses to wolves, and receive assistance in how to manage their animals to avoid depredation. And it is more than reasonable to use knowledge and science to manage the population. But what a sad, sad day for Wisconsin if a small contingent of hunters are allowed to exploit dogs by asking them to risk their lives as “man’s best friend.” All the hunters I’ve talked to (deer, small game and water fowl) are universally appalled at the idea, but it only takes a few. And there have been over 20,000 applications for wolf hunting licenses already turned in. Less than 2,000 will be issued, but how many will want to use dogs? I’d argue that one is too many. I’ll keep you posted, but if you live in Wisconsin, know that we’re living in a state that could be the first in the nation to allow dogs to be used to hunt wolves.

Here is my favorite photo of wolves, that I was able to take at Wolf Park in Indiana. Monty Sloan, the resident (and brilliant) photographer, let me borrow his kick ass telephoto lens, and I took this picture of these gorgeous animals just as the sun was going down. It was February, breeding season, so although we got to be up close and personal with individual wolves, no one but staff was allowed in with the pack. (This is the same time of year that the state of Wisconsin wants to  allow dogs to hunt wolves.) The wolves here are engaged in ritualized displays about who’s who in the pecking order. There would be nothing ritualized about the next steps if the canid on the bottom was a dog who just ran into the pack’s territory.


  1. UrbanCollieChick says

    Dogs have not been permitted on use with deer for ages, yet they will be turned upon wolves. I was given a political history on another blog not long ago regarding why dogs are not allowed on deer, but I do not recall all of it at the moment. I do recall a simpler explanation that the dogs could be mistaken FOR deer. I would think an orange vest might help this but there’s always the occasional trigger-happy or macho amateur hunter I suppose, that could screw things up.

    But now they will be used for WOLVES? There are a whole lot more deer than wolves, and deer that overrun don’t just affect ranchers, they affect everyone, because of car accidents they cause and their role in lyme disease, and over browsing. Plus on the practical side, people eat deer meat pretty favorably. There are millions of them and few other large predators like wolves to check the numbers. Yet for all of this, it’s okay to use them on wolves and not deer?

    This smacks of anger and a salivation to take out a perceived threat to business by people who’ve had it their way for a long time, more than they realize.

  2. em says

    Oh for the love of all that’s reasonable!

    I don’t have words to adequately express my feelings on this matter. Aside from taking issue with the wisdom of hunting a population that numbers less than a thousand individuals, I am appalled, just appalled that anyone is advocating that dogs be used for this purpose.

    I wish you the best of luck at the hearing, Trisha. I hope that sensible choices prevail.

    p.s. I do appreciate the effort to work toward a compromise, but I would be concerned about trying to introduce breed limitation, though not because I think it unreasonable. I worry that it is likely to bump up against the same difficulties faced in areas trying to enforce breed bans. What room does such a limitation leave for crossbred dogs, or dogs that look like trackers but are used to attack? If we can’t realistically expect hunters to keep their dogs on a line, can we realistically expect them to use only purebred dogs trained solely in their traditional hunting method? In this case we presumably don’t have to worry about dogs being unjustly seized or euthanized since I imagine the penalty for an infraction would be a fine, but still. Breed-specific legislation tends to open more cans of worms than it closes.

  3. Kathy says

    I am a Wisconsin resident and agree with you completely. My own dog has had 2 close calls with wolves IN MY YARD in the past couple of years. One wolf lures the dog out and the rest attack, not a fair scenario for any hunting dog. I’ve also known of other dogs being attacked by “bear dogs”. Any dog trained to attack a bear or wolf is a danger to rural pets on their own property and any dog trained not to attack is just “bait”.

  4. says

    Thank you for this informative blog post. This is actually devastating news. I cannot imagine why they didn’t just disallow dogs for now, and then revisit the issue when there was time to give it proper consideration. I actually felt ill when reading through this posting. I hope there will be no dismissal, and that you and others will get a chance to testify on the 26th.

    Please do keep us posted.

  5. Kat says

    Dear merciful heaven. When did we become a culture that ceased to value science and reason? When did the opinions of bear hunters become more valuable in determining policy than that of scientific experts?

    Wisconsin outlaws dog fighting right? How is having dogs track and engage with wolves not a form of dog fighting? And where on earth is the sense in having the hunting season correspond to the mating season. Isn’t that just going to make the inevitable fights that much more intense?

    I wish you all the best success at the hearing. Keeping all fingers and paws crossed that the decision makers are receptive to reasoned arguments.

    Your desire to at least limit the type of dogs used to tracking hounds makes sense but remember you’re dealing with policy makers who are going to be writing in absolutes and that these absolutes spill over into other areas as precedent. I have too many friends devoting their lives to stamping out breed specific legislation not to be aware of potential problems with breed limits.

  6. Diane Lueck says

    Thank you so much for posting about this. It is important that people recognize the risk to their dogs–most hunters are not familiar enough with wolf behavior to make an informed decision. The wisdom of hunting wolves at all set aside, the issue of hunting with dogs must be revisited. Thank you so much for your efforts.

  7. Julie says

    I wonder what the impact on the wolves would be if they are hunted by dogs. Could this possibly increase their territorial instincts causing more confrontations with pet dogs or dogs used for small game hunting?

  8. Dawn Byford says

    Unbelievable. Kill the only predator good at keeping the deer population healthy and controlled and use mans best friend to do the hard work.

  9. Beth with the Corgis says

    I can’t say whether or not wolves should be hunted at all in Wisconsin. I don’t know the population, their dynamics, their interactions with civilization, and so on.

    I am personally not anti-hunting. Honestly falling to a hunter’s gun is about the fastest and easiest way most wild animals will ever die. I do understand why it upsets some people, but on the other hand I have seen enough quality nature shows to realize that there are very few good endings for a wild critter.

    And there are few things more beautiful than watching a really good dog do a job it was bred to do.

    Having set things up with all of that: what a truly awful, horrible, terrible idea this is! Have they gone mad? First off, even a pack of dogs is no match for a full pack of wolves. How can a person possibly tell if their dogs are on one wolf or 12? Second of all, even if the dogs only trail and corner the wolf, there is no saying the wolf won’t bring the fight to the dogs (and logic tells me it is likely that they will; as an apex predator, wolves don’t back down to much). Third of all, it is likely to increase wolf predation on pet dogs; wolves kill coyotes as it is, so my guess is there is already dog predation. If they see dogs as active enemies rather than passive competition, the situation is likely to worsen. Fourth of all, it places the people behind the dogs at risk as well, if the wolves come to associate the people as being part of the “dog pack.” Fifth of all, as someone mentioned, would YOU want to live in a neighborhood with a pack of dogs who have been bred and trained to be game on wolves?

    There is just so much wrong with this. Honestly if wolf numbers are to be restored (and I think they should) then I think it is not just wise but essential that wolves maintain a healthy respect of people. I don’t want them prowling my back garden. I think that practical concerns dictate that wolves association people with guns that make loud noises and occasionally knock down a wolf. I’m not saying that because I like the idea of watching wolves killed, but because I think that people-acclimated wolves would become a detriment to their own recovery and to the well-being of those who live near them. But dogs should not be part of the equation, not even to trail them. It’s a horrible idea. It creates a whole bunch of problems and solves none.

  10. Beth with the Corgis says

    I should add that I just read online that in Alaska, I believe, a leashed dog can be used to trail an injured wolf that got away. That is humane and reasonable and I would not object to that.

  11. Trisha says

    em and Kat, I agree that the breed issue is a complicated one. em is right, in that determinations of breed are difficult at best. And breed-specific regulations can be a can of worms… I would hate for anyone to use this as a justification for a “breed ban.” The intent would be to restrict the regulations to track and trail breeds, in an attempt to impose regulations that at least in some way protect dogs themselves. But both are extremely difficult to enforce… just another reason why dogs shouldn’t be allowed to hunt wolves at all. Period. Tracking an injured animal? Yes, but “hunt” wolves, no.

  12. Laura says

    So it was suggested that wolves be hunted because they killed several bear hunters’ dogs? Do people think that hunting is some sort of retaliation when humans believe they’ve been “wronged?” Or that the fact that wolves killed something valuable to humans means they are now officially a menace? Or that hunting is the only way to address clashes with wildlife? UGH!

  13. Martie says

    I am appalled by some of the decisions made by the state of Michigan as well as Wyoming. Wolves are an integral part of the ecosystem and must be protected …too many have already been lost. There are other ways to deter wolves from attacking lifestock, one of which is to make sure that they have adequate prey in their territories. And large populations of wolves cause other wildlife to reproduce in response to protect their own populations. All of this is nature’s way. Let’s leave it alone, and develop other ways to protect lifestock. People could learn a lot from Native Americans about how to live peacefully with wolves, and all of nature. Listen to the experts!

  14. liz says

    Hope that the hearing and follow-up board meeting allow for regulations to be reconsidered.
    In the “better than nothing” category, I know a hunter who applied for a wolf permit only to keep it out of the hands of someone who’d use it. As a casual conservationist, wolf and dog-lover, he feels like one unused permit could be even the smallest step towards protection. If his number comes up in the lottery and he’s granted a permit, I know a few people who would cover the cost :) It’s probably wishful thinking, but one can hope that a large number of applicants are hunters like him.

  15. Beth with the Corgis says

    Trisha: I would strongly prefer to see a ban on hunting wolves with dogs. HOWEVER, if a ban could not be achieved but a requirement could be put into place that only trailing/scenthounds be used, I would prefer that to no restriction.

    I appreciate what Kat and em are saying, and understand the sentiment. However, in my home state the only dogs that can be legally used to hunt foxes are foxhounds (I pulled up the actual statutes to double-check— moreover the pack must be 5 or more and must be pursued by people on horses) and that has not been used as a model for any other breed-specific legislation. In fact, my state actually prohibits breed-specific legislation.

    In theory it’s a valid concern, but in practice hunting laws rarely influence township nuisance laws, which is where BSL’s usually arise.

  16. Donna B. says

    It breaks my heart too.

    I lived with a captive pack of wolves as a senior at Cornell. I have owned and raised Irish Wolfhounds for over forty years (and had two living with me when I lived with the Cornell wolves) but am so upset at the thought of using any dogs, including IWs, to hunt them. I am interested in it historically, but am so horrified at the thought of this today.

    I also have a PhD, and anything I could possibly do to help, I would gladly do.

  17. Betsy Lane says

    If the matter continues at the meeting on the 26th, is it possible or desirable for members of the public to come? I would drive up from Illinois. This is truly such an abhorrent idea, on all kinds of levels. Thanks for an excellent post!!!!

  18. matthew says

    Not a hunter my self, but generally speaking I am 100% ok with hunting. I get it’s place in nature (which we humans are a part of) and in wild life management.

    having said that. Trisha, I hope you prevail. Anything to impede/prevent hunting wolves is ok in my book. It’s certainly not like we have “too many of them”.

  19. Carol Walker says

    Good luck, Patricia. Sounds like God has put YOU in the right place at the right time, to be the VOICE that needs to be heard. If anyone can bring reason and common sense to this bad situation, I imagine that it will be you. Keep us posted.

  20. Nicola says

    What a terrible situation. I only hope reason & science (ie you) will prevail. As someone else said, hunting a population of less than 1000 individuals seems likely to put the wolves back on the endangered list. Good luck & best wishes.

  21. Linda Ledbeter says

    I often wonder and am amazed at the lack of “common sense” within the human world. Our so called leadership within the government of all rankings are not making decisions based on the greater good of the whole, but rather the dollar bill. Money speakes, it is that simple. In this state alone, people’s rights have been attacked and taken away because of the employeers right to run his company as he so chooses. Our law makers, DNR, politicians, employeers want money at all cost, and will simply use any means to obtain it. Hunters who simply like the thrill of the hunt and the kill, I feel are no different, they want what they want and regardless of the facts, will find ways to get what they want. This is about filling holes in the coffiers plane and simple.

  22. Margaret McLaughlin says

    All the best, Tricia. I hope sanity prevails, because this sounds like a recipe for diasaster.
    I read a few years ago–can’t remember where–that the root of our North American method of dealing with preditors–extermination, came about because all large preditors, such as wolves & bears, were extinct in England by the time people started to emigrate, & people simply assumed they were entitled to a preditor-free environment & set about creating one. Makes some sense to me, especially because those parts of the world where this was not possible have always found ways to cope, often with livestock guardian animals.
    Getting people to re-examine their most deeply-held beliefs about how the world is supposed to work is about the hardest task there is, & I think that’s what you’re facing here.

  23. Laura says

    Right next door to you Tricia, in Minnesota, we have the same possibility of wolf hunting this coming season. I don’t know if they’re allowing the use of dogs to hunt wolves, but I find both ideas just terrible. Don’t hunt wolves, and really, don’t use dogs to do it. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and all of the people you have supporting you on the 26th. I’d drive there if I could, but I’ll be thinking about you all day.

  24. Kim says

    As a wildlife biologist (specifically a bear biologist) working for a state wildlife agency that just recently allows the hunting of wolves, I’m disappointed that WI DNR officials has cowed to a specific hunting group to allow the hunting of wolves with dogs. Wolves are not bears or lions that will climb a tree to get away from the dogs, allowing the hunters to chose whether to kill that animal or take pictures and let it live. The many lion hunters that use dogs to tree cats that can tell you that their baying hounds have pulled in the wolf pack in the area in which they were set out…actually drawing IN the wolves and not the other way around. I don’t see how setting out dogs to track wolves will do anything besides bring the wolves to where the dogs are and then the fight to the death ensues. The only up-side to it, is that it will be a highly ineffective means of hunting wolves…few wolves will be killed by using this method, but I fear that many hunting dogs will.

  25. Babeth says

    Dogs should be used to guard livestock, which will help reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock.
    The ranching and hunting industries have way too much power and greed and the consequence is the destruction of the wolf, a keystone species, which is very important to biodiversity and ecological systems. Therefore, the politicians should be listening to the biologists and not lobbyist for the meat and hunting industries. The people need to be managed not the wolves.

  26. Trisha says

    Thanks for all your comments. I was especially interested to learn that only Foxhounds are allowed to hunt fox in Beth w/ Corgi’s state (care to tell us which one?). And thanks Kim, from the comment as a bear biologist. (there’s a grammar problem there, but hopefully you’ll forgive me, I’m on a plane.) It is a great irony that the bear hunters have pushed for a decrease in the wolf population because they have lost dogs to wolves (for which they receive $2,500 in compensation) , and are now arguing that wolves would never kill a dog, but would only run away from them. It is the consensus of all the wolf biologists I know here in the state that the wolves will indeed respond to the presence of dogs by attacking them; the evidence is so consistent with that it is difficult to imagine anything else happening. In addition, as I’m sure Kim already knows, bears don’t always read the books and climb trees. Sometimes they turn and fight, and no small number of dogs are reported to be injured, sometimes very badly. Here’s something else I have learned as a part of this process: It is legal in Wisconsin for a coyote hunter to trap a coyote and use it to train his dogs to hunt coyote. Coyotes can be placed in a “roll cage” (imagine a barrel with holes in it) and be attacked by dogs in order to “train” the dogs to hunt (and kill?) coyotes. But only for 12 hours. After that the coyote must be placed back in it cage. I’d say more but I don’t trust my next words to be measured.

  27. says

    Oh, sometimes it’s just so horribly embarrassing to be a human! Once again, we’ve proved that the experiment in free will and conscious thought is a bust.

  28. Lisa W says

    And this is why these regulations and the fight against them becomes a rabbit hole: Beth w/Corgis stated: “However, in my home state the only dogs that can be legally used to hunt foxes are foxhounds . . . and that has not been used as a model for any OTHER breed-specific legislation. In fact, my state actually prohibits breed-specific legislation.”

    If her state has a statute that says only fox hounds can hunt foxes, isn’t that De facto breed-specific legislation?

    Oh, good luck and may the Canis win.

  29. Rachel says

    I’m appalled by the idea of hunting wolves with dogs, as is pretty much everyone else here. I do have one question – how can they issue 2000 hunting licenses if the wolf population is only 800 individuals?

    I assume that not every hunting license results in a kill, but I would think that it would be a huge problem to the wolf population if very many individuals were killed (out of so few to begin with). I mean, if we’re thinking 10% population loss is acceptable, then only 4% of issued hunting licenses result in one kill. I seriously doubt the success rate for human hunters is that low.

    Does anyone know?

  30. JJ says

    I’m anti-hunting of any kind of animal with any kind of tool or biological creature – with some possible minor exceptions. None of the several pro-hunting arguments that I have heard justify the practice.

    And then hunting wolves in America? That’s repulsive on so many levels. How does one justify 2,000 licenses for approximately 800 individuals? I get that not every license might result in a wolf kill, but surely there is a math problem here somewhere unless they are trying to wipe out the wolves permanently?

    I appreciate you sharing the story. My good wishes are with you. But I just have to say that this is one more example showing why I think humans are doomed. I find it really depressing.

  31. Trisha says

    Re the number of licenses: This is not part of the regs that I have focused on, but I bekieve that the idea is to stop the hunt once the quota is reached. I’ll check, traveling now…

  32. Beth with the Corgis says

    Trisha: I am in Pennsylvania.

    @ Lisa W: “Breed Specific Legislation” is commonly understood to mean laws that target specific breeds with regulation or banning in the misguided effort to reduce dog attacks/bites. Hunting laws are not usually lumped in with BSL. In PA, it is not legal for towns to target specific breeds. HUNTING laws are very specific that dogs cannot be used to chase big game or to kill game directly. Apparently, they can be used to scatter turkeys and foxhounds can be used to pursue foxes. The reason the law is very specific is because it’s meant to protect the sport of foxhunting by means of using hounds and horses to chase a fox.

    In areas where the goal is to KILL the fox, terriers are used to drive the fox out when it goes to ground. In areas where the goal is the pursuit, and killing the fox may occasionally be a side-effect but is not the real goal (riding to hounds is), you don’t use a terrier. The fox goes to ground, the hounds can’t get it, and everyone goes home and has some brunch. In PA, you can’t use terriers, only hounds. This is an important distinction, but no I do not lump it in with BSL as it is commonly understood.

    “Except as otherwise provided in this title or by commission regulation, it is unlawful for any person controlling or harboring a dog to permit the dog to chase, pursue, follow upon the track of, injure or kill any game or wildlife at any time.”

  33. Beth with the Corgis says

    I wanted to comment on one other idea, and that is the idea that wolves only worry livestock when other game is scarce. I don’t think that is biologically accurate. It’s not realistic to think a pack of wolves is going “I really want some elk, but since there is none this veal will have to do. Bummer.” Predators will kill livestock and if we are to reintroduce predators, there MUST be an approved method of dealing with animals that set themselves up near a farm and call it home. It is fair to neither rancher nor cows to have the resident wolf pack taking down a half-dozen calves a month.

    I live in a state where large game is plentiful. We have had black bears come down out of the thousands of acres of untouched game lands and set up residence in the middle of a city of 70,000 plus, not because there was no place for them to go but because the human civilization provided food, cover, water, shelter in plenty. Coyotes love suburbia. So do deer. Many of our homes and pastures are ideal habitat for wildlife. The bear I mentioned was moved twice, dozens of miles away. He was one return trip away from being killed but he did not come back a third time.

    But the methods of control should be determined by wildlife biologists (who frequently do recommend controlled hunts).

  34. Jennifer says

    Good grief. There must be a very small but well-connected group of individuals who have pushed through this ridiculous dog-hunting-wolf thing. Didn’t anyone think that maybe there was a reason no other state allows this? So disturbing. Keep fighting the good fight and good luck!

  35. Beth with the Corgis says

    This conversation has piqued my curiosity about the status of wolves in Wisconsin. To me 800 sounds like a lot for an apex predator, to be honest; they require fairly large territories. I recently read that they started hunts in Montana because populations of elk and deer were crashing in some areas.

    I found this from my personal most trusted conservation source, the National Wildlife Federation:

    “In January 2008 the National Wildlife Federation together with its affiliated state organizations, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Minnesota Conservation Federation and Michigan United Conservation Clubs, filed a legal brief in support of the federal government’s position. The NWF brief included the following points for upholding the delisting rule:
    – The goals of the endangered species act are best served by recognizing species recovery when it occurs, delisting the listed species, refocusing limited federal resources on other species that are listed under the ESA, and returning primary authority for species management to the states.
    – The wolf population has fully recovered in the Western Great Lakes area.
    – The affected states have wolf plans to effectively manage wolves to sustain a viable population for the foreseeable future…”

    So it sounds like at least a fair number of conservation biologists are in favor of a hunt of some type.

    It’s the dogs part of the equation that has me so very worried.

  36. Ellen Pepin says

    This is a really stupid idea, and new low for Wisconsin. No dog is a match for a wolf. There will be confrontations, and the dogs will die. I hope that you will be able to convince the court to set aside this law. Please keep us posted. This is important to me as I hope it is to every dog lover.


  37. RTL says

    Thank you for sharing this information. Though I am not in Wisconsin this is an issue that is important to me.

  38. Beth says

    Reprehensible. Irresponsible. Wisconsin DNR = “Do Nothing Right”. On a more positive note. STUNNING photo from Wolf Park. Fantastic shot; the raw intelligence and brilliance of the wolf is fascinating.. Thank you Trisha, for fighting for those canines (and wolves) that cannot speak.

  39. Lisa W says

    @ Beth w/Corgis, I was smelling a loophole with the breed specific legislation. I understand what is “commonly understood,” but I was also wondering if it could be taken further into the legal realm, and if a state, such as Wisconsin perhaps? has a statute banning BSL, then could it be applied to dogs that would be used to hunt wolves if there were specific types of dogs or specific characteristics of dogs defined?

    Breed Specific Legislation or the banning thereof could possibly be legally defined as such regardless of the intent of the law or the common assumption or the purpose for such specificity.

    Hoping against hope.

  40. Rachel S. says

    I just wanted to comment on the post made by Beth W/ Corgis, concerning the use of using leashed dogs to track already injured wolves in Alaska; unfortunately, in that state, they have allowed hunting wolves by helicopter. They chase the wolves down until they are exhausted, taking pot-shots at them from the air, often causing painful, but not fatal injuries. That is why the leashed dogs are used to track them. Hunting any animal by air is such a outrageously unfair and cruel practice.

    Also, someone else mentioned the possibility of using dogs to hunt wolves in Minnesota; I have seen many posts on social media concerning the practice of trapping wolves in that state (leg-hold traps) which I consider hideously cruel. Animals caught in these traps die slow painful deaths, often starving to death. I do not understand why these traps are still allowed. We tried to get them banned here in Ohio many years ago, and it was voted down. I guess that I am totally out of touch with the mindset of many living in my state, because, while I am not a vegetarian, and I am not against hunting, I do believe that the use of these traps is wrong.

  41. Beth with the Corgis says

    Lisa W, in my state’s case, the statutes regarding hunting dogs predate the anti BSL laws, probably by many decades. However, they get around it by forbidding local municipalities from enforcing any breed-specific legislation. The power lies with the state:

    “(c) Local ordinances.–Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby abrogated. A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog.

    (d) Insurance coverage discrimination.–No liability policy or surety bond issued pursuant to this act or any other act may prohibit coverage from any specific breed of dog.”

    Hunting laws are at the state level and so there would appear to be no legal conflict (though I’m not a lawyer).

    Hope this helps.

  42. Margaret T. says

    What an incredibly bad idea–hunting wolves with dogs during mating season.
    Wolves do kill other canids. When wolves come back, many coyotes leave or are killed. That brings back the population of ground birds. Here in northern Illinois, where pheasant calls were common in the country, I haven’t heard one in probably fifteen years, in spite of being outside where I should be hearing them. Quail? Not in many decades.
    Elk have not been declining in such numbers simply due to wolves. Wolves cause the elk to move out away from easy hunting, though. Where the elk, pre-wolf comeback, used to hang around rivers and lakes, eating all the browse and muddying the waters, is no longer safe for them, so they travel. Growth along the riverbanks increases, cleaning up the streams, bringing back habitat for birds, beaver, fish…. good things for everyone but those who want an easy elk hunt.
    Killing wolves usually gets the older, wiser wolves, the very ones who teach the young how to hunt. With less knowledge of hunting, the yearlings will travel for easier prey–livestock.
    In order to maintain genetic diversity, we should be hunting only those wolves proven to be a danger to humans. Livestock, we can replace. When I travel to Michigan next week, I plan on keeping my dog close to me, on leash in wooded areas. Only on the beach, where I can see long distances, will she be loose.
    Thank you for testifying for wolves and for dogs. I would be willing to contribute financially if this comes down to hiring lawyers.

  43. mgr says

    “…it’s nothing less than state-sponsored dog fighting.”

    “Rumors are flying about hunters bringing in a range of dogs, large dogs who were bred not just to locate prey but to fight with it…”

    I’m wondering how the legislation would go over if a bunch of thugs and gangstas showed up at the hearing with a brace of spike-collared pit bulls.

  44. Bikes With Dog says

    I too live in Wisconsin (can’t wait to see you next week at Lawrence!) and have been sickened by the whole wolf hunt in general. I can’t believe that a creature just recently taken off the endangered species list will soon be hunted. Then when they started talking about allowing dogs on the hunt, I was rendered speechless. Thank god you have a voice and will be lending it to this important battle. I always think the DNR’s purpose is to actually protect our natural resources, but I’m proven wrong time and time again.

  45. Judith Michels with the Cardigan kids says

    Hunting wolves with dogs is one of the stupidest things Wisconsin could do. Our local humane societies in the Fox Valley and FDL area are not adopting out any large breeds of dogs right now. (that’s what I’ve been told) The reason, hunters have been stopping in to try and find out what LARGE dogs are available to use as BAIT dogs! They will tie them in the woods in a wolf area and then wait for the wolves to come kill the dog. Nice….So the dogs that are waiting for good homes could find a one way trip to the north woods. They have to stop the use of dogs to hunt wolves once and for all. I wish they’d stop them from using dogs to hunt bears too.

  46. says

    Trisha, thank you a million times over for getting involved in this! If there is one area of the law that is evolving at lightening speed right now, it is animal law. There are so many ways animal behaviorists and trainers can get involved in local, state and federal issues. I am ecstatic that these groups have chosen to work with you on this issue. Best of luck, and please keep us posted on how this is going.

  47. UrbanCollieChick says

    Trish, forgot to add, and so ashamed that I DID forget, that if there is any effective way for me to help, I would like to know.

  48. LarryC says

    I’m in total agreement with banning dogs on wolves. It’s a recipe for animal cruelty, and should never be allowed.

    On a positive note, your mention of scent hounds got me to thinking about the scenting ability in dogs. I hope you will forgive me for taking off on an entirely different topic.

    Willie will not be a good study in scenting ability, but you may be surprised by your spaniel. Spaniels were bred for high scenting ability, and are sometimes surprisingly good at it. I once used a Springer to locate a lost lamb on a wild hillside at night in a snow storm. It took her less than 5 minutes to backtrack the ewe half a mile to where she had dropped the lamb. That same springer made a wonderful bird dog. I never saw her miss a retrieve.

    I have a rescue Lab that was terribly abused as a pup. He arrived at 9 months, completely untrained, with now real world skills at all. He didn’t even know how to pack things around in his mouth, which I would have sworn was impossible for a retriever. He also demonstrated no sense of smell. Packing with two spaniels and a miniature dachshund, he at first was clueless about their scenting behavior, but the spaniels would flush birds, which was exciting, and the dachshund would nab the occasional mouse, which was also exciting. After a few weeks, he started to associate smells with these happenings, but it took years for him to really start to use his nose.

    The Lab is 7 years old now, and finally understands the stories his nose is telling him. He picks up trails from the ground, and tastes the wind. A dog that displayed absolutely no scenting ability 6 years ago is now a competent tracker and retriever. He has taught me a lot about innate vs. learned behavior.

  49. Kristy says

    I am so glad you are involved! Thank you!

    It just frosts my cookies that this is going on. I am a hunter and I love watching a good “hunting” dog work, but this just makes me ill. Leaving the actual wolf hunt out of the picture here. . .One of the main cries heard to delist the Wolf in WI aside from the “they are eating my livestock” cry was “They are killing my bear hunting dogs!” cry from bear hunters who hunt with dogs. I have known several bear hunters who use dogs, plus I have seen interviews, read and watched things about hunting bear with dogs. They really don’t give 2 hoots about the dogs. Their dogs live short brutal lives and die pointless deaths. They don’t get vetted and if hurt they get stiched up without anesthetic in the field or shot. Yet these hunters lobbied for a wolf hunt because “Wolves kill my dogs!” and then they turn around and lobby to hunt the wolves with the same dogs they were so angry about losing to the wolves. GAH! I do not have the words to express my rage!

    I feel so powerless on this one. No one on the lawmaking end appears to be using rational though and are listening to no one but those who have the money to make them look the other way while signing this into law.

  50. Trisha says

    Kristy: I’m sorry you also have to have the awareness of what’s going on. I’ve heard from dozens of hunters who are also appalled by the information coming out. I had no idea how bad things were until I got involved in this issue. It’s so much worse than I ever thought. The Animal Cruelty laws are being violated over and over again (it is legal to train your dogs to hunt coyotes and bear by putting them in ‘roll cages,” or a small barrel with holes in it that hunters let their dogs attack. But it’s only legal to do it for 12 hours. After that you have to take what’s left of the coyote or the bear cub out. I’m truly sorry to have learned this. It’s also a shame, and I mean that literally, that our lives are now being threatened on some of the hound hunter lists. However, there are people who are raising funds to bring some modicum of reason back to this very small subset of hunting. I’ll let you know when I get the information if anyone is interested in contributing to a fund to try to combat some of the things that are going on.

  51. susan montgomery says

    What can the rest of us do? As an Irish Wolfhound owner, I know my breed will be on the top of the list for these sadists and their blood games. We have already heard of some breeders buying and stealing IW to breed with heavier and more aggressive breeds to get a ‘mean hunting dog.’ (IW give size and speed) Horrific and heartbreaking!

  52. Bob Hocking says

    Dogs are used to hunt canines all over the world and this is benificial to both people and wolves as the hunted animal will quickly learn to avoid dogs/people. Currently wolves here in western upper Michigan/Northern Wisconson fear nothing. They make easy prey of domestic animals even when people are close by. Two years ago
    our family lost our Terrior to wolves. The dog was killed 15′ from our house. Our German Shorthair was also attacked a year later while out with me on a walk but was quick enough to get away.

  53. the don says

    Most of you are as weaker than bottled water. In the not too distant past we were an easy meal for wolves. Canadian wolves are enormous and the only dogs that can handle them are Greyhound/Deer hound crosses or, possibly Greyhound/American Bulldog crosses used in packs of no less than ten. They must be specifically trained for the duty. The proper usage of spiked collars and Kevlar vesting greatly reduces the likelihood of “man’s best friend” being seriously injured.
    The deer herds need to be culled first and foremost and like it or not, well trained dogs are the fastest method to use in this pursuit. Dispatching nuisance wolves are secondary to this. Watch “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson it’s a fair depiction of what real wolves will do to unarmed human beings encroaching upon their territory. (disregard the ridiculous animatronics) We are just a link in their food chain.

  54. Trisha says

    Claiming that a Hollywood thriller like The Grey is based on reality is, with apologies for my being so blunt, ridiculous. Unarmed people “encroach” into wolf territory on a regular basis without any threat from wolves. As a matter of fact, few people ever see a wolf, even if they live in wolf territory all their lives. And sticking with the facts instead of wild conjecture, 111 wolves have been killed in the Wisconsin hunt, only 5 short of the quota, with the use of guns and traps, not dogs. The season runs until Feb 28th, but 4 of the 5 zones have been closed in mid December because so many wolves have been killed. In addition, arguing that dogs used to hunt wolves wear spiked collars and Kevlar vests pretty much confirms that the animals are engaged in fights. Organized dog fighting is illegal, last I looked.

  55. Lee hanson says

    What is WRONG with people? Legalized dog fighting? We fight to stop this barbaric sport but encourage it in a different setting? Shame.

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