NOTE: Though the Congressional 2016 Fiscal Spending
Bill passed with NO policy riders targeting wildlife including proposals to
remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in Wyoming or
the Great Lakes, many of these riders seem to have found their way into H.R.
2406, the Sportsmens Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of
2015, which was approved by the US House of Representatives, 242-161, and now
goes to the Senate. (Text of bill here.)
Statement from Plaintiffs
in DNR Lawsuit Affidavit from a Grouse
Letter from a Landowner and
Mainstream Hunter Excerpt from Dave Olson's
On 13 November 2012, a group of mainstream Wisconsin hunters
received permission to file a legal brief with the Court voicing their
opposition, as life-long hunters and land-owners, to the unrestricted use of
dogs for hunting wolves and training for such hunting.
Wisconsin hunters are concerned that the lack of reasonable rules currently
governing the use and training of dogs to hunt wolves will interfere with
established deer, turkey, grouse and other hunts," states Henry Koltz, who
represents a group of Wisconsin hunters. "Any interference with
Wisconsin's established hunts has the possibility to negatively impact
thousands of Wisconsin jobs and the reported $1 billion economic impact of
hunting in Wisconsin. We strongly recommend that DNR approve reasonable
restrictions on the use of dogs for wolf hunting in order to protect Wisconsin
jobs and preserve Wisconsin landowners' rights."
hunter is Ed Mathwig, who has hunted ruffed grouse with bird
dogs every year in Wisconsin for over 50 years but will not be hunting this
year as a result of the disputed DNR rule. "Never before now, have I had
to worry about my bird dogs being placed in jeopardy while hunting."
Mathwig states, "However, this year, for the first time, I will not be
taking my dog grouse hunting, because I will not put him at risk of injury or
death posed by packs of dogs running loose in pursuit of wolves."
Read Ed's Entire
Affidavit from a Grouse Hunter
Wisconsin hunters, including a number who share ownership in a 700 acre hunting
camp in Bayfield County, support restrictions on the use of dogs for wolf
hunting, contending that unleashed dogs in pursuit of wolves will trespass upon
their lands, disrupt habitat, and degrade their hunting experience.
"Whether we are hunting, hiking or just enjoying the forest, we don't want
our space disrupted by packs of dogs," states Bobbi Rongstad, who hunts
deer with rifle and bow on private lands she owns in Bayfield and Iron
Counties. "By allowing unrestricted, year-round training of dogs on wolves
across much of the state-before, during and after the hunting season-DNR is not
being fair to the majority of Wisconsin hunters."
know no boundaries and are out of their owners' control for much of the
time," states Jeff Baylis, a lifelong deer and small game hunter,
"Besides leading to trespass situations and conflicts with landowners,
DNR's failure to set limits on running dogs on wolves will drive wildlife from
the areas that I hunt and disrupt my hunting enjoyment."
"While there is some logic to using dogs on animals that can be treed,
wolves cannot be treed but instead will be cornered by a dog pack, which is
likely to be a bloody, violent and cruel business."
to read Statement from Plaintiffs in DNR Lawsuit,
Affidavit from a Grouse Hunter, Letter from a
Landowner and Mainstream Hunter, and an Excerpt from Dave
If you are a hunter who opposes using dogs in wolf hunts, it is
NOT too late to let your voice be heard! Please email your thoughts to
Your comments may make a
crucial difference for dogs, landowners, AND hunters in Wisconsin!
Hunters Amicus Brief (pdf)
Statement from Jayne & Mike
Belsky, Plaintiffs in DNR Lawsuit:
We fail to understand the
Judge's decision to allow dogs in the Wolf Hunt, given his stated recognition
that DNR failed to put forward any evidence to indicate that dogs could be used
to pursue wolves safely or humanely.
Wisconsin citizens and longstanding hunters, we believe in hunting with
principles. We do not believe brutality towards wildlife or hunting dogs should
be open-ended to the point where nothing is considered too cruel. Wolves can
strip a large hunting hound of hide, bone and flesh in a few short minutes.
It's not an easy death because they are often eaten alive. This usually happens
while the bear hunters sit in their trucks and ATVs with radios, listening to
GPS collar beeps, while their dogs die in the woods.
during the court hearings did (or could) the DNR or Hound Hunters dispute the
fact that hundreds of large bear hounds have already died this way1. The DNR web site keeps a tally of dead dogs, warns hunters to
keep their hounds out of those areas and provides a map. Now they want to sell
you a license so you can intentionally "give it a go" and pit your
dogs against wolves anywhere in Wisconsin.
Are you also
aware that hound trainers can use Captive LIVE BAIT Animals to train hunting
hounds? Raccoon, Fox, Coyotes, Bobcats and Bear can all be kept in captivity
and owners can (for a fee) allow hunters to bring in their hounds and terrorize
those animals in pens or roll cages for up to 16 hours a day. While any zoo,
rescue, rehab-center or sanctuary that allowed this practice would risk being
fined or closed down for inhumane treatment of wildlife, in the name of
"live bait training" it's legal for hunters in our state to do so.
How long will it take before they add captive wolves & wolfdogs (such as
the pets pictured with this statement) to that live bait list?2
Lobby in Wisconsin has spent decades promoting a shiny public image of ethical
hunting. So why, then, are such principles as Respect for Wildlife, the
Hunters' Code of Ethics, Fair Chase Doctrine, and the love of hunting dogs so
utterly absent? How LOW will extremists go-and legislators tolerate--in the
name of "Hunters' Rights"? There already has been discussion of the
public's tolerance level of wolves. Now discussion needs to turn to the
public's tolerance level for how cruel Wisconsin hunting and hound training has
become3. Many people consider the new wolf hunt law
"legalized dog fighting"; some have even likened it to the medieval
"sport" of bear, bull, and wolf baiting -- only in the wild.
passed this wolf law in its entirety in the wee hours of their session last
year. We wonder if they were at all clear as to the events they were about to
put in motion. We ask that Legislators take the action needed to remove dogs
from the wolf hunt and stop the use of live bait training on captive wildlife
There is a very real
possiblity that, since they are considered "captive wildlife" by the
DNR, wolf dogs like the pets shown on this page may be listed as animals that
could be used as bait trainig for hunting hounds.
1. Almost 300 dogs
have been killed by wolves since the depredation payment for hounds (up to
$2,500 per dog) was instituted when wolves were listed as endangered. Dog
deaths average about 15 to 20 a year, and about half a million dollars has been
paid for dead & injured dogs. The depredation payment formerly came out of
endangered resources funds from the Federal government, but now that wolves are
*game* animals, all depredation payments for both cattle and dogs will now come
from wolf hunt license sales. The DNR also agreed that any hound killed while
actually hunting wolves would not be paid for. Coincidentally, the hounders
have set up wolf hound training and bear hound training at the exact same times
2. Wolfdogs are
regulated by the DNR as captive wildlife, but they have not yet been listed as
animals that could be used as bait training. (See
Wisconsin Dog Training
and Trialing Regulations (Captive Wildlife and Free-Roaming Animals) (pdf)
for more information.)
3. Hound hunters
answer to these facts; "they will use the animal fighting breeds of
dogs" (Rhodesian Ridgebacks & Wolfhounds). According to a
Lakeland Times article, Wisconsin Bear Hunters
Association President Al Lobner said possible breed choices could include coon
hounds mixed with rhodesian ridgebacks or Irish wolfhounds. Airedales would be
another possibility." His references to mixing breeds likely doesn't mean
having mixed breed pups but to have a mixed pack of hounds of these different
breeds. Though limited to 6 hounds in the woods at one time, hunters can change
out individual dogs all the time. -- possibly changing out the scent hounds for
the fighting breeds once the trail is acquired.
Affidavit from a Grouse Hunter, filed with the
"I have lived in
Wisconsin for 66 years, currently retired after a 40-year career in education.
I am an avid hunter, having hunted ruffled grouse with dogs every year since
the age of 14. Even before then, I walked the woods alongside my father and his
dog while he hunted grouse.
primary interest in bird hunting is the dog work that accompanies it. I find it
very satisfying to put in the hours and training needed to prepare my dog for
his work in the field locating and retrieving the game. Over my lifetime of
hunting, I have put in countless hours training and working with my bird dogs
-- it has been and remains one of my most enjoyable pastimes.
November, and early December, in particular, are a special time to be out in
the woods in Northern Wisconsin; every year, I look forward to being out there
with my dog during ruffled grouse huntng season at this time.
was a boy, I have taken my dogs ruffled grouse hunting each year...in the last
twenty years, in the Clam Lake and Black River Falls areas, which are prime
ruffled grouse habitat and prime wolf habitat.
before now, have I had to worry about my dogs being placed in jeopardy while
ruffled grouse hunting. However, this year, for the first time... I wil be
opting out of the ruffled grouse hunt due to Wisconsin DNR's approval of rules
authorizing a wolf hunting and trapping season that places my dogs in jeopardy
of serious injury and death.
unmarked baited wolf trap, which is authorized under DNR's new rules, presents
a very real danger to upland bird dogs, including those who hunt ruffled
grouse, as those dogs cover a lot of ground while searching for game and have a
highly refined sense of smell which will lead them to investigate traps and
baits set for wolves.
dog, an English Cocker Spaniel, has been trained to hunt in this same manner,
placing him, too, at unreasonable risk of injury given that a wolf trap's
disproportionate size and force as it snapped shut on my 40 lb. dog would
nearly certainly break his leg, cause him extreme pain and suffering, and
likely end his hunting career altogether.
cannot expose my dog to the risk of injury and death posed by packs of dogs
running loose in pursuit of wolves and by wolves being pursued by packs of
dogs. The use of dogs for training and hunting wolves will not only disrupt and
destabillize the overall ecosystem of the area I have hunted in all my life, it
could place my dog at unacceptable risk of attack -- if he were caught in the
path of a pursuit underway or if perceived as a threat by either wolf or other
consideration of the time, money, and companionship I have invested in my dog,
I view these risks as unacceptable and, for this reason, I will not participate
in the ruffled grouse hunting season this year.
opinion, it is unconsciouable that DNR would allow this type of unleashed,
unlimited training of dogs on wolves to to on for most of the year, taking us
back in conduct and ethics to medieval times.
equally thoughtless that DNR has failed to place necessary limitations on
baiting traps, the numbers of traps, and identifiation of traps, in order to
provide safeguards for other hunters and their bird dogs." --EM, LaCrosse,
Read the entire
"English Spanial" Photo above Copyright ©
A letter from a landowner and mainstream hunter:
"I am a hunter and a
landowner. . . and I am strongly opposed to the hunting of fur-bearing animals
with the use of dogs. We have routinely been awakened in the early morning
hours by barking dogs during their so-called training runs near our
property. And weve had un-leashed, un-tended, hungry hounds show up on
our property on numerous occasions. We have observed the so-called hunters
sitting in vehicles along the road, dropping cigarettes and beverage cans out
the windows while their dogs run braying through the forest. In my opinion,
that is not hunting. We do not appreciate the disruption or the trespass of
these hunting dogs running lose on or near our property.
wolf hunters to use dogs in pursuit of wolves is even more ridiculous. In
addition to the problems mentioned above, the practice would encourage
potentially lethal confrontations between dogs and wolves. Currently, dogs
appear to be attacked by wolves most often when the dogs venture into wolf
rendezvous sites, where young are present. Allowing the use of dogs and
training them to pursue wolves will only increase the likelihood and
opportunities for injury and death to the dogs. It may even encourage wolves to
seek out and kill dogs in general as a threatening enemy.
fact that quotas are already met in this initial wolf hunting season provides
inarguable proof that dog-assisted hunts are not required in order
to kill wolves. I believe that those who have lobbied our legislators so hard
to be able to hunt with dogs are probably those who are too lazy to
go out in the woods and hunt with more humane and acceptable methods. Michal
Vick spent time in prison for the same practice the DNR proposes to call
hunting. I do not understand why lawmakers, rather than biologists, made any of
these rules in the first place. It seems that politicians have enough to do
without sticking their noses into more issues they know nothing about. "
-- BR, Northern WI
"At the post hunt
discussion over some Leinenkugels . . . I asked [other hunters] what they
thought about wolf traps set up to lure canines, wolves, coyotes, (bird dogs?),
and if they knew how to get their dog out of a wolf trap. This brought some
hemming and hawing but the real thought provoker was wolves chased and hunted
by dogs that would become conditioned to think that dogs were their enemies.
Since the bear and wanna be wolf hunters that use dogs claim that success rate
on either species with dogs is very low it would seem that most of the time the
wolves would be chased by dogs and escape. This conditioning, in my opinion,
would not be good news for Springer, Labs, Goldens, and even trusty American
Water Spaniels that were out hunting for grouse, pheasant, and woodcock. I'm
not sure any consensus was reached or that any minds were changed on the issue
but thought was indeed provoked. Hunters love their bird dogs.
". . .
True fair chase and tradition have had a place in the Wisconsin hunting
community for decades and have been passed down through families and hunting
camps over the years and it needs to stay that way.
". . .
I'm not against shooting a few wolves but let's give them a bit of a chance.
Read the technique for hunting wolves with dogs that a proponent of the
activity outlines in this
Wisconsin State Journal article. Put the gps collars on the
dogs, split up with your ATV's or 4WD pickups, and when the dog chases the wolf
to the guys who raced ahead they shoot it. A guy might not even need to wear
boots if you could shoot the wolf from the pickup bed when it crossed a road. I
didn't make this crap up, read the article. Its an interesting headline by the
way since DNR has already closed two zones and 90 out of 116 remaining wolves
available for the quota have been killed. So I guess you really don't need dogs
to hunt wolves after all. Or at least evidence, a little utilized resource in
this whole controversy, would seem to indicate that.
". . . Let's rethink
the wolf hunting regulations, base them on some sort of science and evidence,
and keep the dogs flushing grouse and retrieving the mallards and bluebills.
It's Wisconsin hunting tradition."
the entire Blog entry
If you are a hunter who opposes using dogs in wolf hunts, it is
NOT too late to let your voice be heard! Please email your thoughts to
Your comments may make a crucial difference for dogs,
landowners, AND hunters in Wisconsin!
WI Wolf Hunt in Brief WI Wolf Hunt Overview In the Media Hunting With Hounds
Wolf Hunting in Wisconsin:
Mainstream Hunters Speak Out
2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169
opposition to using dogs for wolf hunts Wisconsin Mainstream
Hunters Amicus Brief (pdf)
Plaintiff's Brief Seeking Judgement on Merits
(pdf) ASPCA Amicus Brief
WI DNR Wolf
Hunting and Trapping page
AP Article: Wisconsin DNR proposes wolf/dog hunting
HSUS Files Notice of Suit to Restore Federal Protection for
Great Lakes Wolves
Wisconsin State Journal: Advocates Say Dogs Essential to Wolf
JS Online: DNR's Wolf Hunting Plan Start of Slippery
JS Online: Handling of WI Wolf Hunt Illustrates Troubling
Outdoor News: Will Wisconsin's Animal Cruelty Law Affect Wolf
NY Times: Televised Wolf Hunt
WI Watch.org: Did Wolf Hunt Bill Go Too
WI Law Journal: Judge bars dogs from Wisconsin wolf hunt
WI Fed. Humane Societies: WI Wolf Hunting
Testimony of wolf behavior expert Richard
Testimony of dog expert Patricia McConnell,
Testimony of UW-Madison Professor Adrian Treves,
Wolf Photos on
this page from All-About-Wolves.com
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