Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Battle lines drawn in state wolf hunt

 Set to start Oct. 15, use of dogs in limbo
  Sep 3, 2012   |  
Associated Press photo
Associated Press photo

Wolf application sales through Aug. 31, 2012

Sales of wolf applications as of 3:30pm on Friday, August 31.

Date Non-resident Resident Total
20120801 52 3148 3200
20120802 24 1187 1211
20120803 15 1018 1033
20120804 10 670 680
20120805 14 490 504
20120806 18 614 632
20120807 20 544 564
20120808 13 496 509
20120809 17 603 620
20120810 10 449 459
20120811 10 311 321
20120812 2 280 282
20120813 13 379 392
20120814 9 391 400
20120815 9 381 390
20120816 11 357 368
20120817 11 356 367
20120818 6 522 528
20120819 5 328 333
20120820 21 388 409
20120821 14 331 345
20120822 5 322 327
20120823 11 279 290
20120824 14 325 339
20120825 3 328 331
20120826 14 363 377
20120827 12 463 475
20120828 21 461 482
20120829 15 567 582
20120830 23 752 775
20120831 20 756 776 *as of 3:30 pm
TOTAL 442 17859 18301
Animal rights advocates are happy about a Dane County judge’s move to temporarily halt the use of dogs during Wisconsin’s inaugural wolf hunt.

However, the ruling puts the fate of the five-month hunt in jeopardy, according to officials at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The season is set to run Oct. 15 through Feb. 28, 2013.
Humane societies and wolf groups have voiced opposition ever since they heard how the state’s new wolf hunt was to be conducted.

The Oshkosh Humane Society already received inquiries from someone looking for “four large dogs” to be used for hunting wolves, said Joni Geiger, executive director of the humane society.

“I find this appalling and I am ashamed Wisconsin would take such a giant step backwards when it comes to animal welfare,” Geiger said. “I honestly feel that most people in the state of Wisconsin would be outraged knowing that our DNR has legalized the inhumane treatment of dogs.”

The request for an injunction was sought by a group of Wisconsin Humane Societies, which argues the DNR should have used its authority to put in place regulations to prevent violent confrontations between dogs and wolves — both during the training of dogs, when conflicts could arise, and in the actual hunts.

Dane County Circuit Judge Peter Anderson said in his ruling that the DNR could move forward with a hunt that does not involve dogs. But on Thursday, DNR officials said they would cancel the hunt if the judge issued the injunction because the agency would not have time to create regulations on the use of dogs before the hunt begins.

Fond du Lac Humane Society Shelter Manager Renee Webb said they have been on guard for requests for large dogs that could be used to hunt wolves.
“One of our biggest concerns is if people are looking for dogs to use as bait dogs. It’s disconcerting to me, really, that there are no restrictions on how people can use dogs for hunting. That’s why there is this outcry,” Webb said.

According to the DNR wolf hunting regulations, it is illegal to allow a hunting dog to kill a wolf.
Carl Schoettel, vice president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, said its ridiculous to imply that hunting dogs would run after wolves and grab on to the animal or that hunters would tie dogs out as bait. Dogs used to hunt wolves would be no different than the hounds used in bear and coyote hunting, he said.

“These aren’t catch dogs, we aren’t using pit bulls to hunt,” Schoettel said. “Our hounds trail the animal and tree it or bay it up. We love our animals and don’t ever want our dogs killed,” he said.
The 2012 wolf hunting season proposal is a temporary framework, known as an emergency rule. Over the next two years, the DNR will work with the many groups that have an interest in the season to develop a more permanent wolf hunting season framework.

The National Wolfwatcher Coalition rejects the DNR’s wolf hunting/trapping proposal altogether. Nancy Warren, Great Lakes Regional Director of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition stated, “the quotas established by DNR are too high and represents a reduction of the wolf population by 18-29 percent.”

Legislators argued a wolf hunting/trapping season was needed to reduce livestock depredation. However, the approved Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan already allows for killing wolves responsible for depredation, she said, adding that research suggests that Wisconsin has a biological carrying capacity of 700-1,000 wolves.

Lora Kolz Bosin of Fond du Lac said the wolf hunt needs more time and work before being approved.

“I don’t think it should be so long. I don’t like it at all really, but realize like any animal hunted, they need to be regulated in order to keep numbers at a good level to prevent bad health of the animals when there are too many,” she said.

Adrian Wydeven, wolf expert with the DNR, said Wisconsin’s wolf population grew from 25 in 1979 to between 815-880 in 2012 because of a comprehensive management plan.

He said the state loses 25 percent of the adult wolves annually, about 200, and of the 1,000 pups born each year only about 300 survive the first year.

Still their numbers continue to grow and the hope, he said, is that a public harvest would control the animals in parts of the state where they are causing problems.

In 2000, eight farms suffered wolf depredation. Last year, it was 40 farms, he said.
“Wolves are apex predators, they hunt the largest herbivores on the landscape. If they are living in an agricultural area, they don’t distinguish livestock from wild prey,” he said.