Wolves Killing Dogs

Wapiti Slayer

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Posted on Thu, Aug. 26, 2004



Wolves kill more bear-hunting dogs

WISCONSIN: State's hunting laws allow dogs to track bears, unlike Minnesota regulations.

BY JOHN MYERS

NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER


A wolf pack in Ashland County has killed seven bear-hunting dogs in four incidents over the past month, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are warning hunters to keep their dogs out of the area.

Another wolf pack recently killed a bear-hunting dog in southern Sawyer County, said Adrian Wydeven, DNR wolf expert, putting the total at eight dogs killed this summer.

Bear hunters often turn their dogs loose near where a bear sign is found and allow the hounds to follow bear scent to train them for the coming hunting season, which starts Sept. 15.

In some cases, the dogs stumble into an area that wolves fiercely defend, often near pups, and wolves kill the dogs. The seven dogs were attacked in an area of the Chequamegon National Forest west of Glidden. The attacks occurred between Aug. 4 and Monday.

"It seems like it takes one incident that gets the wolves going after dogs. Once we had one (dog killed), the wolves became more aggressive toward dogs," Wydeven said Wednesday. "They may consume some of (the dog). But it's mostly a territorial defense thing over pups."

In investigating the attacks, Wydeven conducted a howling survey and had pups answer him in the area. Wolf experts say the wolf pack would act just as hostile toward coyotes, other wolves and even small bears. The pack in the Glidden area has about 10 animals and is one of the largest in the state. Wolves have been in the area for years but this is the first attack on dogs, Wydeven said. Wisconsin has about 400 adult wolves in more than 90 different packs, and only two packs currently are attacking dogs, Wydeven noted.

"It's usually not a problem. But it seems like once a pack attacks a dog, they do it again," he said.

Six bear-hunting dogs were killed in 2003, 10 in 2002 and 17 in 2001, DNR records show.

The state will not attempt to trap or kill the Glidden wolves because they are simply defending their territory, Wydeven said.

"If they were going onto private land and killing livestock or pets, then we go in (with federal trappers) and can take the wolves out," he said.

Hunters who lose dogs are compensated by the DNR's state wildlife depredation fund, usually between $500 and $2,500 per dog.

Dogs can be trained on public land for bear hunting in Wisconsin from July 1 through Aug. 31. The bear-hunting season for people hunting with the aid of dogs opens Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 5.

Hunters are being asked to avoid the area south of State Highway 77, north of Forest Service Road 164 and east of Forest Service Road 168 to the eastern edge of the National Forest.

Wolves currently are listed as a federally threatened species in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They can be trapped and killed only by federal authorities and only near where livestock or pets have been killed. Federal officials have proposed removing protections for wolves and giving wolf management back to states, including allowing broader hunting and trapping, but that move is a year or more away.

In Minnesota, which has about 2,500 wolves, attacks on dogs are rare. Dogs are not allowed for bear hunting in Minnesota, and other hunting dogs are usually close to their owners while in the field, causing wolves to stay clear.

Wolves occasionally do venture into yards in remote areas or on the edges of towns and kill dogs, said Bill Paul, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's animal damage control program in Grand Rapids.

"We're not getting as many reports of wolves killing pets as we were about three years ago. We used to get 15 to 20 every year and it's down to five or 10 now," Paul said. "It's usually a territorial thing where wolves run into a dog and they just won't tolerate it in their territory, even if it's in someone's yard."

Grouse hunters and people walking their unleashed dogs have also had their dogs killed, Paul said. "It happens... People need to remember we have a lot of wolves out there and they don't like dogs."
 

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