Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Survey: Wis. outdoorsmen favor wolf-dog hunt rules

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A majority of Wisconsin outdoorsmen support the Department of Natural Resources' proposed new rules for using dogs to hunt wolves, according to a statewide vote released Tuesday.

The Conservation Congress, a group of influential sportsmen, asked thousands of people who attended annual spring hearings whether they're behind the agency's proposed rules limiting the number of dogs wolf hunters can use and the training season.

More than 6,000 people attended the spring meetings held in every county in Wisconsin on Monday, the DNR said. Citizens can comment and indicate their preferences on a range of proposed fish and wildlife management rule changes at the meetings.

The vote is advisory only. This year's results will be reviewed at the state Natural Resources Board's May 22 meeting in Madison.

Statewide, outdoors enthusiasts attending the meetings favored the DNR's proposed regulations for training and using dogs in wolf hunts by wide margins.

Under the DNR's proposed regulations, hunters would be allowed to train dogs on wolves during daylight hours during the wolf season and the month of March. Dogs would be allowed to pursue wolves but not kill them.

The rules also would require each dog to be tattooed or wear a collar with its owner's name and address.

The training window allows hunters to train their dogs in snow, when they can easily identify through tracks whether a wolf is alone and avoid confrontations with a pack. The identification requirements mirror the standards for bear hunting dogs.

A group of humane societies filed a lawsuit in August alleging Wisconsin wildlife officials failed to impose any real restrictions on using and training dogs on wolves. That shortcoming sets the stage for deadly dog-wolf fights in the woods in violation of Wisconsin's animal cruelty laws, the groups contend. DNR attorneys have maintained that wording in the wolf hunt bill passed by state lawmakers last year didn't allow them to impose any restrictions on dog training in emergency rules adopted by the agency last July. DNR officials said they planned to impose more dog regulations in a permanent rules package.

A Dane County judge issued a temporary injunction that blocked the use of dogs during the wolf season. In January the judge approved dog use during the hunt but barred training them on wolves.
DNR officials don't expect to implement the new rules until after they've studied data from Wisconsin's first two wolf seasons.
Statewide hearing results and the questions are available at ; search "Spring Hearings"