A Dane County judge will decide Friday afternoon whether to allow the use of hunting dogs to track wolves.
The move followed a three-hour hearing, during which attorney Carl Sinderbrand argued the use of dogs during Wisconsin’s upcoming wolf hunt amounts to animal cruelty. Sinderbrand, who represents several animal rights groups that filed the lawsuit, says the dogs are set loose and will be far from their owners when a wolf turns and attacks them. If that happens, he says the animals are “a goner.”
Wisconsin is the only state with a wolf hunt that allows the use of hounds for tracking. However, Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Hirsch says dogs are already allowed to track several other animals and the process is well regulated. Hirsch told the judge Wednesday, “whether we like it or not, that is legal in this state.”
Sinderbrand countered that while the use of dogs is allowed, their primary enemy is the animal they will now be trained to track. He says 195 hunting hounds have been killed in Wisconsin over the last 18 years by wolves. Many of those died while tracking or being trained to track other animals.
If an injunction is granted, the Department of Natural Resources says it could stop the upcoming wolf hunting season from even taking place this year. A spokesman for the DNR says that’s because officials would have to restart the rules process to create new restrictions on the use of dogs, which would stop the agency from issuing permits to hunters before the start of the season on October 15th.
As of Wednesday morning, over 16,187 people had applied for a permit to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. The state only plans to issue about 2,000 licenses to hunt 201 wolves. The permit application deadline is this coming Friday.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:16)