Duluth News Tribune August 27, 2018
By Stacy Kolkind
Contrary to a recent article (“Density causes annual clashes with wolves,” Aug. 14), confirmed wolf conflicts with livestock are decreasing in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, those incidents decreased almost 30 percent from 2015 to 2016 and decreased again from 2016 to 2017. Based on recent data, wolves are responsible for less than 1 percent of all annual unwanted cattle and calf losses in Wisconsin, compared to other causes like weather, theft, and respiratory problems that resulted in over 97 percent of unwanted losses.
These decreases occurred even as our wolf population is finally recovering from the misguided trophy hunting, trapping, and hounding seasons the Wisconsin DNR held the last time federal protections for wolves were removed. Over three seasons, at least 520 wolves were killed using steel-jawed leghold traps, strangling neck snares, fetid bait, packs of trailing hounds, and electronic predator calls. If federal protections are lifted again, this reckless and pointless killing likely would quickly resume.
Some Wisconsin legislators even tried to pass a law to legalize poaching wolves.
DNR statistics also show that incidents of non-livestock wolf conflicts decreased by more than half last year. These were almost exclusively conflicts with dogs used for hounding: intentionally sent into wolf territory to chase, attack, and often kill (or be killed by) bears and other wildlife. Of course there’s conflict. And when those dogs are killed or injured, their owners are financially compensated for their reckless behavior. It’s tragic these hound hunters knowingly put their dogs into harm’s way and that their dogs harm all manner of wildlife.
Killing wolves and rewarding irresponsible behavior isn’t the answer. If the DNR won’t end hounding, at least we need to end Wisconsin taxpayer payouts for hounding in wolf country and support using highly effective, non-lethal husbandry techniques to protect livestock on ranches and farms.
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