First ran on May 4, 2014 by Justin King on Digital Journal.
First, could you explain what wolf hounding is?
What is wolf hounding? It is a form of hunting that uses dogs to chase the wolf to the hunter so he can kill it. Wolf hounding is a barbaric practice and a return to the time when wolves were considered vermin. Wolves are far from vermin status as they were allowed to recover on their own in Wisconsin starting in the 1970s. Wisconsin monitored wolves and allowed them to establish territories free from human interference. That is until 2012 when the Wisconsin legislature enacted law, Act 169, which allowed wolves to be hunted once they were taken off of the endangered species list. Wolves were now designated a game animal that could be hunted and killed. Wisconsin became the only state to allow wolves to be hunted with the use of dogs.
How does it work exactly?
Hunters use packs of free ranging dogs to chase the wolf to the hunter/hunters and kill them.(six dogs allowed at one time by DNR wolf hunting regulation) Wolf hounders send out six dogs at a time replacing tired ones with fresh dogs(if they can catch them if not then the pack of dogs could be up to 20). These dogs are equipped with high tech radio collars and the dogs handlers follow along with radio telemetry antennas.
Wolf hounders typically release hounds on fresh wolf track/tracks. The dogs pick up the wolf’s scent and chase after it until they corner it or the wolf turns to fight. Then this can either be a kill shot for the hunters or a huge fight between wolf and dogs. In Wisconsin it is illegal for packs of dogs to kill wildlife and the hounds handlers must kill the animal the dogs are chasing.
How long does it take for the dogs to bring down a wolf?
This can depend on many factors. Typically dogs chase the animal until it is exhausted and wolves can trot up to 40 miles per hour in order to conserve energy, but when being chased by a pack of dogs is a different matter all together. The wolf then becomes the pray of the dogs. If an older more experienced (alpha)wolf is being chased by dogs he leads them away from his family. The alpha wolf will lead the pursuing dogs into a low area and then turn on them to fight for his life.
Do the dogs kill the wolf or does the handler?
The handler by law is supposed to kill the wolf. But suppose handlers are nowhere in sight when the dogs corner the wolf. Then this could end in a blood bath resulting in a fight between up to six or more dogs to one wolf.
How is this any different than dog fighting?
The only difference is they are in a contained area called a pit. While hounds are out in the wolf territory.
How does the state justify this being legal? The US congress delisted wolves in 2011 without any scientific testimony or federal agency testimony. This was the beginning of the end for science driven legislation and this opened the door for wolf hunting. Then in Wisconsin they already use dogs on bears so for the hounders it was a natural progression for them to hound wolves.
What happens when a wolf kills a dog?
Hounders are not required to report any injured or killed dogs in the pursuit of a wolf kill. There is no way of really knowing this as it is a purposeful lack of information on the WDNR’s part. Citizens are kept out of the process and they don’t want us to have any evidence to shut them down. WDNR claimed this year’s wolf hunt with dogs was a success without any incident.
Wisconsin gives out depredation payments to people whose dogs were killed by wolves. Do they make those payments even if the dogs were turned loose to hunt a wolf or some other predator?
Wisconsin pays out up to $2,500.00 for each dog killed by wolves out of wolf hunting season. They are reimbursed when their dogs are killed by wolves while training on bear. Wolf hounders are not reimbursed if their dog is killed while running them on wolves in the hunt.
According to one source about a third of that money over the last year went to people who intentionally put their dogs at risk by using them to hound.
Does that sound right to you?
Yes that sounds exactly right to me as hounders are given proper warning of where wolves keep their pups. WDNR gives out these warnings every year during bear hounding seasons and these are repeatedly ignored by the hounders. Last summer, 2013, 23 bear hound dogs lost their lives to wolves because owners ignored these warnings.
Update: July 2014 wolf hounders are now allowed to train their dogs to chase wolves. Wolf hounders can release dogs to chase wolves through the north woods but must use rules that are in place for hound hunting wildlife. The Wolf Advisory Committee has recommended a training period beginning sometime in November running through February that must be approved by the NRB. Training dogs to chase wolves during January and February is a bad idea for both wolves and dogs. The recommended time to train is during wolf breeding time when wolves are very protective of their territory and this will result in conflicts between dogs and wolves.
“Wolf hounding is a barbaric, in-humane, and archaic practice that has no place in civilized society.” Rachel Tilseth founder of Wolves of Douglas county Wisconsin a grassroots organization
We are working to ban wolf hounding in Wisconsin and for how to help:
Photographs from Rachel Tilseth Tracking journal, raven in the north woods of Wisconsin and wolf tracks in the woods Wisconsin