August 27, 2014

Bill would bar dogs from wolf hunt

Legislation being offered at the Capitol would bar the use of dogs to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. It hasn’t actually happened yet, but with rules governing the use of dogs in the wolf hunt now in place, state Senator Fred Risser has drafted a bill to prohibit what he calls state sanctioned dog fighting. “I see no purpose for it all,” said the Madison Democrat, noting that Wisconsin is the only state which allows dogs to used in a wolf hunt. “Dogs and wolves get into vicious battles, and it’s just mayhem.”

Anne Reed is executive director of the Wisconsin Humane Society, one of several groups in support of the legislation. “We don’t just think wolves kill dogs, we know they do,” she explained. “The DNR has documentation. Hundreds of dogs have been killed in the woods, by wolves, while either hunting or training for other game. This isn’t a hypothetical situation. Wolves kill dogs, and in the most horrible way.”

An injunction by a Dane County judge, in place throughout the most recent hunt, has been lifted and the Natural Resources Board approved rules to allow dogs to be used in the wolf hunt.

Risser said a prohibition on the use of dogs to hunt wolves would not be a “slippery slope” towards any sort of similar ban on the use of dogs to hunt bear. “Personally, I don’t think dogs should be used in bear hunts,” he said. “But there’s a lot of difference between hunting bears with dogs and hunting wolves with dogs. Bears will be treed, and will not fight the dogs. The wolves will turn on the dogs, and you’ll have a very bloody situation.”

Other groups which who support prohibiting dogs in the wolf hunt are the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Inc., Wisconsin Mainstream Hunters, The Sierra Club, and the Northwood Alliance. Risser said he’s looking for bipartisan support for the bill. Reed, with the Humane Society, agrees the issue ought to cross party lines. “The Wisconsin Humane Society has adopters and donors and volunteers and staff from all parts of the political spectrum,” she said. “I would very much hope that, regardless of whatever or political disagreements are on other issues, that we could come together on this.