Animal advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Board (NRB) this week over a new provision that will allow hunters to use dogs this upcoming hunting season that begins on October 15.
The suit, which was filed at the Dane County Circuit Court by eight organizations, is seeking an injunction to stop the DNR from issuing permits, claiming that hunting wolves with dogs will result in a number of horrible scenarios ranging from animal cruelty to what would otherwise be legalized dog fighting in violation of the state’s anti-cruelty and animal fighting laws.
“A broad range of Wisconsin citizens oppose the rules established for this season,” said Jodi Habush Sinykin, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “From hunters to landowners, ecologists to volunteer trackers and community humane societies, there is strong agreement that the season was set up without the restrictions needed to prevent deadly animal fighting.”
“The goal of the lawsuit is to have the DNR take a closer look at the restrictions that need to be put into place,” said Liz Pirner, Fox Valley Humane Association resource and events coordinator. “They are a predatory animal, and they are a very complex animal. That needs to be a part of the conversation when we’re talking about bringing a companion animal into the situation.”
The groups also have experts on their side who filed statements against the use of dogs, including a former DNR wolf manager, Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, a nationally-acclaimed expert in canine training and behavior; and UW-Madison Professor Adrian Treves, Ph.D, expert in wolf habitat and behavior.
“Dog packs that will be used to chase a wolf or a pack of wolves will be regarded by the wolves as a threat,” said Dick Thiel, a retired DNR wolf manager who submitted testimony. “Attacks will be swift and furious. Dogs will be seriously injured and die, and wolves will be injured and die as they both fight by slashing out with their canines and carnassial teeth.”
Supporters of the rule don’t expect there to be any problems. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, for one, doesn’t believe there’s any basis to support the notion that dogs and wolves would fight, while hunters contend that their dogs are expensive and well trained and they don’t want to put them in harms way. However, there are no breed, training or leash restrictions in the provision.
Bill Cosh, a spokesman for the DNR said they are disappointed with the lawsuit and will be reviewing the documents.
A preliminary hearing for the case has been scheduled for Aug. 29. The plaintiffs include the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Dane County Humane Society, Wisconsin Humane Society, Fox Valley Humane Association, Northwood Alliance, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, Jayne and Michael Belsky and Donna Onstott.
Meanwhile, it looks like hunters are anxious to get out there for a massacre. More than 8,400 people having applied for just 2,000 available permits being offered to kill a quota of 201 wolves.
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