A state appeals court says hunters can train their dogs to track on wolves, and the attorney for groups who challenged the practice says it’s a clear sign that state lawmakers should revisit the issue.
A Dane County circuit judge had previously ruled that dogs can be used to track wolves, but their owners were not able to train them on the animals. In a ruling released Thursday, the Fourth District Court of Appeals found other state laws do protect the right of Wisconsin residents to train hunting dogs though. As a result, the panel said the prior ruling blocking training has no real effect in stopping the practice.
Attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who represents the coalition of humane societies and conservation groups that filed the original lawsuit, expressed disappointment with the appeals court ruling. She noted that it also underscores the need for the state Legislature to revisit the wolf hunt in order to prevent dogs from being released into violent confrontations with wolves. Sinykin says “until Wisconsin citizens demand a ban on dogs in wolf hunting, this blood sport will remain a stain on Wisconsin’s reputation and a significant challenge to the state’s animal welfare ethics.”
The wolf hunt last year was the first time dogs were able to be used during the season, although hunters could not use them to track until December 3 when just a single zone remained open. During that period, the state Department of Natural Resources says 35 wolves were harvested last year with the aid of dogs.
The DNR is still reviewing the decision, but a spokesman says they are glad the court agreed they are following the law properly.