Since the beginning of 2012, two dogs have been killed by wolves – one in Douglas County in the Town of Solon Springs, and another just last month in Ashland County’s Town of Jacobs.
The dog killed in January was a bobcat hound in the Brule River State Forest, while the dog last month was on private property and involved a pet, an 11-year-old Plott.
A caution area has been set up by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for hunters in Douglas County, while no caution area has been established in the Town of Jacobs.
Sometime in the next day or so, the state Assembly might take up a bill passed by the Senate last week to create a wolf hunting and trapping season this fall. The season would be held less than a year after the federal government took the gray wolf off the endangered species list in Wisconsin.
If state lawmakers give final okay to a wolf hunting bill this week, it will be against the advice of some attorneys and wildlife researchers.
University of Wisconsin-Madison wildlife researcher Adrian Treves warns that instead of trying to reduce the incidence of wolves killing livestock or pets, the wolf hunt proposal seems like a plan to simply reduce the wolf population or provide recreation to hunters.
“Because the bill allows a statewide hunt whereas we know that depredations by wolves occur in less than one-third of wolf range, let alone the whole state,” he says.
Environmental attorney Jodi Habush-Sinykin says federal officials could reverse the delisting unless lawmakers make changes in the bill. She recommends blocking nighttime hunting of wolves, the use of dogs, and to shorten the proposed season.
“This type of non-targeted, expansive hunting season really could put our recovering wolf species in jeopardy,” she says.
But the supporters of a wolf hunt in Wisconsin may be focused on hunters who claim wolves are killing too many deer.
Location of Ashland County wolf depredation in February.
Reporting by Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio was used as the basis for this story.