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Wisconsin's First Wolf Hunt Fuels Lawsuit

More than 10,000 applications for wolf hunt permits have been submitted for a season that the Wisconsin Humane Society and others say shouldn't involve hunting dogs without more rules in place.

Concerned for the safety of hunting dogs brought along during Wisconsin's first wolf hunt this fall, the Wisconsin Humane Society has joined other groups in a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resoures and Natural Resources Board.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, asks the court "to stop the DNR from authorizing the use of dogs for wolf hunting until reasonable rules are established to protect dogs from injury or death, according to a press release from the society. Other plaintiffs include outdoorsmen, hunters, volunteer trackers, and other Wisconsin animal welfare organizations.

When the state passed a law permitting the hunt, it included use of dogs for tracking and trailing — and it directed the DNR to set in place rules for use of these domestic animals, said Anne Reed, executive director of the Wisconsin Humane Society. She added: "They didn't do it."

"Wisconsin has just become the only state to allow dogs in wolf hunting, and we have done it with rules that do virtually nothing to protect dogs from being ripped apart by wolves," she said.

Wolves were given federal protection in the early 1970s, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The paper wrote that farmers and citizens reported more threats to dogs, deer and cattle as the wolf population grew out from northern Minnesota.

In January, the gray wolf was removed from the federally endangered species list in Wisconsin and other Midwest states, according to the Wisconsin DNR website. The DNR said it hoped to maintain the population at a healthy level and address problem areas of wolf attacks. A New York Times blog item said the Wisconsin wolf population is about 800.

"Wisconsin regulations will treat the gray wolf as a protected wild animal, which means that authorization from the DNR is required before a person can attempt to 'take' or kill a wolf," the website said.

More than 10,000 applications for wolf hunt permits have been submitted, and only 2,010 will be chosen via a lottery system, according to GazetteExtra.com. The hunt runs from Oct. 15 through the end of February. Applications cost $10 and are being taken through Aug. 31.

The Humane Society and others involved in the suit believe that wolf attacks on dogs being used in other animal hunts are proof that stronger regulations are needed before this season starts up.

"The DNR has paid more than $427,000 since 1985 to hunters whose unleashed hounds were killed by wolves while pursuing bears in known wolf pack areas," Reed said. "One-hundred and ninety-two dead hunting dogs in total, not to mention the 40 more treated for injuries at an additional cost of $20,000." (See attached PDFs.)

Reed said the law lacks training requirements for dogs, and leash restrictions that would keep hunting dogs in "safe proximity to their handlers," do not exist.

Bill Cosh, a spokesman with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, has said the DNR is "disappointed" by the lawsuit, but added little other comment, according to the New York Times.

Mary Anderson September 02, 2012 at 02:26 AM
22-250 works wonders as a varmint rifle. A 17 is brilliant but you won't get the distance. Thank goodness someone with two brain cells quashed the dogs. Gah! I can't believe it was even advocated.
Wolflover13 October 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
seriously? if a dog is chasing a bear a wolf is not going to randomly jump out and kill your dog. in all likely occasions the bear turned around and killed the hound. a predator will not attack a dog while a bigger and angry predator is in the same area. its just not going 2 happen
carol October 22, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I agree with you Brittany..i'm totally against it
vocal local 1 October 24, 2012 at 09:56 AM
Neither the elect or the DNR is listing to the majority on this issue. The hunt will occur. Your without voice per your voting so live with it or examine who you are voting for. VOTE the deadbeat INCUMBENTS OUT.
Gregory Kluck October 24, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I found some stats on wolves attacking humans...it's a rare occurrence. http://www.aws.vcn.com/wolf_attacks_on_humans.html

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