Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stop use of dogs in hunting wolves

21 hours ago

We fail to understand the judge’s decision to allow dogs in the actual wolf hunt, given his stated recognition that DNR failed to put forward any evidence to indicate that dogs could be used to pursue wolves safely, humanely or without deadly consequences for the animals involved.

As lifelong Wisconsin citizens and longstanding hunters, we believe in hunting with principles. We do not believe brutality towards wildlife or hunting dogs should be open-ended to the point where nothing is considered too cruel. Wolves can strip a large hunting hound of hide, bone and flesh in a few short minutes. It’s not an easy death because they are often eaten alive. This usually happens while the hound hunters sit in their trucks and ATVs with radios, listening to GPS collar beeps, while their dogs die in the woods.

Not once during the court hearings did (or could) the DNR or hound hunters dispute the fact that hundreds of large hunting hounds have already died this way. The DNR web site keeps a tally of dead dogs, warns hunters to keep their hounds out of those areas and provides a map. Now it wants to sell you a license so you can intentionally pit your dogs against wolves anywhere in Wisconsin. Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Wolf Hounds and Airedales are being considered for use in the wolf hunt. All are fighting breeds with one intended purpose.

Are you also aware that hound trainers can use live bait animals to train hunting hounds? Raccoon, fox, coyotes, bobcats and bear can be kept in captivity and owners can for a fee allow hunters to bring in their hounds and terrorize those animals in pens or roll cages for up to 16 hours a day. While any zoo, rescue, rehab-center or sanctuary that allowed this practice would risk being fined or closed down for inhumane treatment, in the name of “live bait training” it’s legal for hunters. How long will it take before they add captive wolves and wolf dogs to that live animal bait training list?

The hunting lobby has spent decades promoting a shiny public image of ethical hunting. Why, are such principles as respect for wildlife, the hunters’ code of ethics, fair chase doctrine, and the love of hunting dogs so utterly absent? How low will extremists go — and legislators tolerate — in the name of hunters’ rights? There has been discussion of the public’s tolerance level of wolves. Now discussion needs to turn to the public’s tolerance level for how cruel Wisconsin hunting and hound training has become.

Legislators passed this law in the wee hours of their session last year. We wonder if they were clear as to the events they were putting in motion. We ask that legislators remove dogs from the wolf hunt and stop the use of live bait training on captive wildlife in Wisconsin.

Mike and Jayne Belsky, Necedah