In my dozen or so years as a volunteer WI DNR Winter Wolf Tracker, I learned a great deal about wolves. Wolves are territorial predators, social animals living within family packs, that depend on each other for survival. Wolves have a beneficial effect on ecosystems as a keystone predator. Wolves have been off the endangered species list now for over two years, and are being managed by the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is only managing wild wolves as a trophy game animal. Managing the wolf only as a trophy, especially using dogs to hunt them, is an outright waste of natural resources, money, and time previously spent on recovery.
I cite the loss of 23 hound hunting dogs during 2013 bear-hunting training season with reimbursement up to $2,500 per dog.
On July 10, 2014, a Judge ruled that dogs could be trained on wolves and this is concerning. Here is why. Based on what I’ve learned about wolves during tracking:
Training dogs to chase wolves during breeding season in January and February will result in a blood bath. While tracking wolves during the winter breeding season I found wolf scent marking every tenth of a mile, for about a mile. There were multiple wolf tracks on the edge of the packs range. I found obvious signs of a female wolf in estrous near these scent markings. I’m certain if a wolf hound handler sends dogs to chase wolves during breeding season it will end in a blood bath because wolves are very protective of their mates at that time.
These fringe hunters put both wild wolves and hunting dogs in known situations that cause conflict. Should citizens be paying money for this reckless behavior?
Over the next several months the Wolf Advisory Committee, which Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp admitted is stacked with pro-hunter interests) will be writing training rules for dogs to chase wolves.
Stepp has limited citizen input by selecting a committee stacked with pro hunting lobbyists that cater to a minority of extremist fringe hunters.
All citizens have the right to weigh in on this issue, including ethical hunters, hikers, eco-tourists, cyclists, photographers and bird watchers. I ask that Wisconsinites speak out against this practice of chasing wolves with dogs and stop this before it ends in a north woods blood bath.
Photograph WI Senator Fred Risser and Rachel Tilseth
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