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Wolf Attacks on Dogs Increasing in Wisconsin

The number of dogs suffering from wolf attacks in Wisconsin is on the rise. How long will this be allowed to continue before the state takes back wolf management?

As of the end of August 34 dogs have been killed or injured by wolf attacks in Wisconsin. Only five of the 34 dogs were injured and not killed.

Bayfield County has by far the most reported deaths with 14. The rest are split between 10 other counties spread over the northern half of the state.

“There’s definitely a cluster of activity in Bayfield County in both northern and southern reaches of Bayfield County,” said David Ruid, wildlife biologist with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. According to Ruid, the majority of attacks occurred on large blocks of public forest lands.

Most of these have been hunting dogs and state wildlife officials are urging hunters to be careful with their hounds, and to be on the lookout for wolves.

“It’s important that hunters subscribe to that wolf depredation alert system so they can be notified where and when these incidents occur,” Ruid said. “And be vigilant and be aware if wolves are in the area that they’re hunting or if wolves have recently used one of their baits that they have out for bear.”

The DNR website states,

As with other wild canids, wolves are very territorial and will guard their territories from other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs. Wolves are probably most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs at den and rendezvous sites when their pups are small, protecting a fresh kill…Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, which get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups.

The site also says, “Although wolf attacks on pet dogs in residential areas are rare, they do occur and have increased in recent years.”

Wisconsin DNR large carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland said the number of dogs killed this year shows a slight increase from recent years. He said hunters can sign up for alerts through the DNR’s website to locate the areas where attacks have occurred.

“That said, there are new areas where these conflicts can occur. So even with the information that we provide, individuals can experience conflicts in places where they haven’t occurred before,” MacFarland said.

Ruid adds: “A certain amount of it is circumstantial. But, generally speaking, it’s typically larger packs that have reproduced that are protecting pups.”

Hunters can receive up to $2,500 from the state for dogs killed. There have also been around 20 or so wolf predations to livestock in the state.

Wolves in Wisconsin currently number close to 900, which is close to three times the DNR’s stated goal of 350 wolves in the state.

The state had a controlled wolf hunt and trapping season in 2012 to control the population, but in 2014 a federal judge ruled that wolves should be placed back on the Endangered Species list, ignoring the state’s right to manage their wildlife.

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NEXT: Current Wisconsin Wolf Population More Than Double State Goal

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Wolf Attacks on Dogs Increasing in Wisconsin