Tomorrow in Wisconsin Dogs get to help hunt wolves

Will it be h0 hum or a blood bath?

In Wisconsin’s continuing wolf hunt which has felled wolves at a surprisingly rapid pace, now dogs will be added to mix. Wisconsin’s wolf hunt is supposed to end when 251 wolves out of the estimated 800 in the state have been killed. So far about 215 wolves have been recorded as legally killed.

There has been a long legal and public opinion battle on this new hunting technique, but tomorrow, Dec. 2, dogs will be allowed to chase wolves in part of Wisconsin. The official line is that the dogs and the wolves are not supposed to fight it out, but rather the dogs will chase the wolves into the open where the wolves can be more easily shot.

No states currently allow dogs to directly attack wildlife and this is said to be no exception, although it is clear that in fact in states that use dogs to hunt bears, cougar, and bobcats, that the dogs (hounds) do sometimes attack their quarry, and sometimes the cougar or bear fights back injuring or killing the dogs. Note: this paragraph is in error. A number of states do allow use of domestic animals to kill or help kill wildlife (beyond the traditional retriever and bird hunting). 

Dogs and wolves are natural enemies. Since the recovery of wolves began in the Great Lakes and the Northern Rocky Mountain states there have been many incidents of wolf packs killing hounds that were tracking bears and cougar. Most incidents where people have claimed to have been threatened by wild wolves in these states have turned out to involve a dog as well, the dog being the likely reason for the close approach of the wolf.

Can dogs turn the tables on the wolves now? Over the centuries in other countries a number of wolf hounds (dogs that chase and maybe fight wolves) have been bred. Up until wolves were all but extirpated in the lower 48 states, there was some wolf hunting with dogs, including in Wisconsin.

It will be a “no no” under the Wisconsin law if the wolf or wolves don’t run and turn on the dogs, but it is not hard to see a lot people will be cheering for the wolves and others for the dogs.






  1. Cris Waller Avatar
    Cris Waller

    “No states currently allow dogs to directly attack wildlife”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Foxhunting, coyote coursing, coyote and fox penning, hare coursing, terrier work, etc. all are allowed in some or all states.

  2. ramses09 Avatar

    The whole wolf hunt sucks – in ALL states that allow it. If they De-List them, there will be no saving the wolf this time.

  3. Ed L Avatar
    Ed L

    It looks like Wisconsin is imitating the barbaric slaughter of wolves now going on in Idaho and Wyoming where it is basically open-season on wolves. With wolves now in a steep decline in the Rocky Mountain states and Wisconsin, it is once again time to Re-List the wolf as an Endangered Species.

    1. ma'iingan Avatar

      “With wolves now in a steep decline in the Rocky Mountain states and Wisconsin,…”

      I’d like to know what you’re using to measure this “steep decline”. NRM wolf numbers are down 7% since the advent of hunting, and Wisconsin’s 2012/13 wolf harvest did not reduce the population at all.

      Actually, if there was a “steep decline” anywhere it was Minnesota – and it appeared to be mostly a natural decline, but significant enough to cause them to substantially reduce their public harvest this year.

    2. Debbie Nelson Avatar
      Debbie Nelson

      I am from WI and am embarrassed of all the bad things that have happened to this state since it has turned red. I really want to move out of this place.

  4. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    As per ma’iingan,

    “The reality is that Wolf Zone 3, the only zone left open, will see little if any use of hounds. There is a significant amount of ag land, including dairy and beef producers, and few large blocks of public land.”

    Also, cannot find map of all bear hounds killed by wolves in WI this year, but the last five were killed in counties not found in zone 3.

    I’m going for and hoping for ho-hum.

  5. Jon Way Avatar

    No doubt if there is conflict the owners of the dogs will want to be compensated fair market value for putting their own dogs at risk. Ahh, the stupidity and hypocrisy…

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      At least the 2012 rules refute reimbursement for hounds pursuing wolves found on Page 5

      1. Jon Way Avatar

        Thanks IT, Just getting this. Wow, a 38 page document on hounding wolves… (including sworn testimony). That is at least encouraging. I can see now that 1 wolf track is found and the dogs are released, and soon after it is found that an entire pack of wolves was traveling together, just that 1 individual was a slight distance from the pack. Then the dog gets torn apart and the houndsman demands something be done. Or he claims that he wasn’t trailing wolves and that the wolves just killed his dog…

  6. john philip Avatar
    john philip

    Well I’m the ultimate dog sap, but I’m routing for the wolves in this fight.

  7. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    I don’t understand why this is necessary. If there are so-called problem animals and the population needs to be ‘managed’, then just have your friendly neighborhood animal control go in, or the hunting methods being used so far seem to be more than adequate. Why must they be chased by dogs also? With ATVs and GPS? The animals stand no chance with today’s technology. Because it is ‘fun’ isn’t a professional and scientific reason, when we are told it is all about science and reason.

    If the government agencies cared anything at all about wildlife conservation, they’d set some kind of limits – instead of allowing a free-for-all. Especially for an animal that was recently removed from the Endangered Species list.

    And we should not forget that ID has in fact suggested bring back bounties on wolves.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Ida Lupine,

      I speculate it is just another way to try to build up the constituency for the department, but in this case it will be small.

      If my speculation is correct, the way to defeat such a tactic is unfortunately to be very unpleasant and make it cost them.

  8. Jeff Avatar

    I think this is about establishing rights—in the end no houndsman will want to risk the death of his dogs for the hunt. Terrain and speed of the interaction will dictate that wolves will kill dogs much more quickly than dogs (and hunter) will kill wolves. Trapping and opportunistic big game hunters will take wolves, I don’t think the hound thing will last long. Too expensive to train and raise hounds only to see wolves kill them. Bears, cougars and bobcats all tree when pursued, they are also solitary. Wolves can’t climb and thus the pack will stand and fight. Perhaps a large group of hounds will kill or harass a small pack of wolves or a lone wolf, but unless the hounds outnumber the wolves 2:1 my money is on the wolf and two years from now the idea of hunting wolves with hounds will be forgotten.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      I hope you are right.

    2. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      I believe It is illegal for the hounds to kill wolves.

  9. Jeff Avatar

    That may be true, but its naïve to believe that it won’t happen given the speed that dogs and wolves move through the forest—even with ATVs and GPS hunters aren’t on the scene immediately, what happens in the woods…

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      You’re preaching to the choir on that.

  10. Therian Canine Avatar
    Therian Canine

    It should be wrong to use dogs to hunt and aid in the killing of wolves. I can understand farmers wanting to protect their animals, but it would be so much easier just to build better fences. It should not be a sport where you can kill these creatures with animals that used to be kin. It just sounds so twisted, like long lost relatives in a fight to the death.

  11. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I don’t know if this was posted before or not, but there is some interesting information in it:

    Wisconsin Pays Scofflaws Over Dog Deaths

    Some of the lowlights:

    . Seven individuals received a total of $19,000 in payments after they were convicted of crimes or paid forfeitures for hunting or firearms-related offenses, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. An additional $20,000 went to four claimants who were subsequently fined for such offenses, including bear hunting without a license.

    .In one case, the state Department of Natural Resources paid $2,500 to a man for a dog death that happened while he was prohibited from having a hunting license, due to a prior criminal conviction.

    .The DNR program also has approved more than $80,000 in payments to repeat claimants — those who put dogs in successive situations where they were killed by wolves.

    . Some compensated depredations occurred in areas that the DNR has flagged as being at high risk for wolf attacks.

    . A study released last April by researchers in Michigan found significantly higher rates of wolf attacks on dogs in Wisconsin than Michigan, which does not compensate owners for wolf attacks. Besides being a reporting inducement, it said, “compensation also creates an incentive for riskier behavior.”

    . For many years, funding for these payments came from sources including the state’s Endangered Resources Fund, from people who bought endangered species license plates or made contributions via their tax return. Since 2012, these payments have come from the state’s wolf-hunt application and license fees. That means these fees have not been available for other costs associated with the wolf hunt.

    . State officials do not routinely check whether those seeking compensation for dogs killed while hunting or training are properly licensed. But DNR attorney Andryk said “we’re looking for a way to do that,” after the Center called the agency’s attention to a particular case.

    . In the decade under review, the state paid or approved about 150 claims for hunting dogs killed by wolves. Of these, 31 came from 14 individuals who filed more than one claim, including a four-timer. A total of $82,236 has gone to these repeat claimants. The review also found claims totaling $28,086 from six individuals who live in other states. They lost a total of 10 dogs while hunting in Wisconsin.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan