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WI: Dog killed in second Wood County wolf attack in a week

Jamie Rokus, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

HANSEN – A second confirmed wolf attack in less than a week in Wood County has claimed the life of an 18-year-old dog.

Diane Schiller says her dog, Tucker, was killed Thursday night or Friday morning about 10 feet from her home on Lincoln Road in the town of Hansen, about 15 miles northwest of Wisconsin Rapids.

“I am so very heartbroken and so mad that I am just shaking,” Schiller posted Friday on Facebook. “The wolf got Tucker last night. My friend, companion and protector for the last 18 years. RIGHT IN MY YARD!! Tucker wasn’t out running around, he was in his own space where it is supposed to be safe.”

Schiller said Tucker was an outside dog and had access to a garage attached to her house.

“We were just letting him live what was left of his life,” she told a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Monday.

On Friday he wasn’t in the garage where he normal would be in the morning, and she found him lying dead by his favorite tree.

An agent from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to Schiller’s home Monday and found wolf tracks along the edge of a nearby cornfield, Schiller said.

“I showed him the photos I took after the attack and he said right away that it was a wolf,” she said. “They killed purely for sport. Tucker was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Dan Hirchert, a wildlife specialist with the USDA, confirmed Tuesday the attack was caused by a wolf.

The USDA also confirmed last week that wolves had killed 13 sheep July 8 on the farm of Ray and Barb Calaway, about a quarter-mile from Schiller’s property. In both attacks, wildlife specialists say it’s hard to know how many wolves were involved.

“We have motion lights and dusk-to-dawn lights and not even the lights scared off the wolves,” Schiller said.

Hirchert said while it’s not common, it is possible that wolves would approach a building or residence.

“Occasionally wolves can be bold,” he said. “They feel more comfortable at night.”

Schiller said she has lived at her home since 2006 and they have seen wolves in the past. Her son lives in between her property and the Calaways’ farm and she said she is concerned for her two grandchildren who often play outside.

“I don’t think I want to be outside or walking down the road,” she said.

Hirchert said there is no history of humans being attacked by wolves in Wisconsin. He said if a person was to encounter a wolf, they should “be bold. Make your presence known. Yell at it. Throw a rock or stick toward it,” he said. “Leave the area, but don’t turn your back on it or run away.”

After she posted about the loss of Tucker on Facebook, Schiller said she was surprised by the amount of criticism she received.

“Honestly, I didn’t know the wolves would come this close to the house. The (USDA) guy seemed kind of surprised too,” she said. “The sheep that were attacked were in a field, this happened in my front yard.”

Wolves are considered an endangered species, so only non-lethal abatement options are allowed, Hirchert said.

He said the USDA does regularly use abatement tools such as lights, electric fencing and sirens to help farmers protect their livestock against nuisance wolves.

“But, we are limited to nonlethal techniques unless there is a human health and safety incident,” he said.

“We live in a rural area that is populated with farms and we know we live with wildlife,” Schiller said. “When it comes to the point where something needs to be done, the (wildlife specialists’) hands are tied. I think if they know a pack is causing problems, they should be able to track them and remove them. It doesn’t make sense that a pack is causing trouble and they can’t do anything about it.”

Tucker’s death is one of 23 confirmed or probable wolf attacks to occur in Wisconsin in 2019 and one of 10 to occur in July, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Wolf Depredation Reports. A beef calf was also injured in a probable wolf attack on Thursday in Wood County, according to the report.

The USDA and the DNR encourage people to report suspected wolf attacks.

People in the northern part of the state can call the DNR at 800-228-1368 or 715-369-5221. Any attacks in the southern part of the state can be reported by calling 800-433-0663 or 920-324-4514.

More information on wolves in the state is available on the DNR’s website.

Melissa Siegler contributed to this report.

Protect your livestock and pets

Dan Hirchert, a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers the following recommendations to help protect your livestock and pets from wolf attacks.

  • Don’t leave pets outside at night. If you have an outside dog, keep it penned up and near the house.
  • If you need to take your pet outside at night, keep it on a leash where you can see it. Also, keep a light on while you are outside.
  • Don’t feed dogs outside, as pet food can attract wolves and other animals.
  • Avoid feeding deer around your residence, as bringing deer to your area could attract wolves.
  • Keep table scraps, including compost piles, away from your property.