Wisconsin wolf hunts are known for allowing the use of dogs to harvest wolves, and this season, hunters claimed six animals.
The low rate of canine-assisted harvests from this year’s hunt is attributed to an uncharacteristically brief season. Last year, hunters had nearly three weeks to send out dogs, compared with this year, when there were merely a few days to do so.
Dogs cannot be used to pursue wolves on the first day of the season, which began Dec. 1 this year. Five days later, only six wolves had been harvested with the aid of dogs, compared with the 35 harvests documented last season.
Wisconsin is the only state that allows dogs to be used in wolf hunts, and although the state does not permit dogs to wound or fight with hunted wolves, some locals are questioning the canines’ animal rights.
Jodi Habush Sinykin, attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA), told reporters she’s more concerned with the number of wolves that were trapped this year. The MEA wants wolves to be recognized as endangered species if the state can’t ensure a healthy population.
Dave MacFarland, a carnivore specialist with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), told reporters the modifications the state will consider for next year. He said in order to make the season last longer, the DNR may assign hunters to specific zones. In addition, the DNR is considering imposing harvest limits for each zone.
The DNR plans to release draft revisions to the management plan, which calls for a population of 350 wolves. The current population of wolves is 650, and the DNR will solicit public opinion on its future endeavors to maintain or modify these numbers.
During the Wisconsin wolf hunt this season, a total of 154 wolves were harvested, which exceeds the non-tribal harvest limit by four animals. This year, 123 wolves were trapped; three were killed with a bow and 22 were harvested with the aid of guns.