Lawsuit Blocks Wolf Hunters from Using Dogs in Wisconsin

A lawsuit to prevent the use of dogs to hunt or trail wolves in Wisconsin has succeeded until at least Dec. 20, the date Judge Peter Anderson will hold the next hearing in the case.

As the result, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a statement Thursday alerting wolf hunters that "the season will proceed but without the use of dogs."

The wolf hunting and trapping season is scheduled to begin Oct. 15. The use of dogs to pursue wolves had been authorized by state statute to begin Nov. 26.

Groups filed a lawsuit against the DNR in August, claiming the department did not have adequate rules in place to prevent potentially deadly exchanges between wolves and dogs, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin is the only state to authorize the use of dogs to hunt wolves. The practice was included in Act 169, passed in April by the Legislature. Plaintiffs claim the use of dogs to hunt or trail wolves violates state animal cruelty laws.

Judge Anderson placed an injunction on the use of dogs to hunt or trail wolves while the case is being decided. He will hold a hearing Dec. 20 to consider the state's request to lift the injunction.

The DNR has issued 1,160 wolf hunting and trapping licenses. The wolf harvest quota was set at 201 statewide, 85 of which are reserved for Native Americans in the ceded territory.

The DNR established five wolf management zones, each with a harvest quota. The season would end in a zone when the harvest quota was reached. Hunters and trappers are required to report kills within 24 hours.

If the harvest quota is not reached, the season would run through Feb. 28.
The state's wolf population was estimated at between 815 and 880 animals in late winter, according to the DNR.