Using Dogs to Hunt Wolves: Does Anyone See The Irony?

While wolves are struggling to increase their numbers from all-time lows, several states have decided that this is a swell time to start killing them for fun. Care2 reported on a new policy permitting shooting wolves on sight in Wyoming. Montana extended its hunting season to give hunters a chance to meet the “quota” of killing 40% of the state’s wolf population. Since Congress stripped wolves of Endangered Species status in 2011, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, New Mexico and Idaho have declared open season on wolves.

So what does this bloodshed have to do with domesticated dogs?

Wisconsin is also permitting wolf hunting, and that state’s hunters plan to use dogs to track wolves, claiming that the dogs are “essential to success.” TH reports that animal advocates are more interested in protecting hunting dogs from “potentially deadly confrontations with wolves” than in ensuring productive hunts. The dispute has gone to court, as Care2′s Alicia Graef reported; a local judge who temporarily banned the use of dogs in wolf hunting is set to hold a hearing on the case on September 14th.

The hunters paint a dire portrait of failure and disappointment should they be denied the help of dogs. One hunting advocate “said hunters who can’t use dogs won’t kill wolves.” The heart bleeds for him.

Among the growing list of states legalizing wolf hunting, Wisconsin is alone in attempting to allow hunters to use dogs to hunt wolves, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. According to TH, “a lawyer for the plaintiffs said other states’ wolf hunts are expected to be successful even without dogs, and he cited Montana as a state that’s had a successful wolf season without dogs.” How is it that hunters in every other state anticipate or have completed successful hunts without dogs? Are Wisconsin wolves wilier than the rest? Or are Wisconsin hunters more bloodthirsty?

It seems that Wisconsin’s jolly beer-and-cheese reputation hides a very dark side: over 20,000 Wisconsin hunters have applied for permits to kill wolves. The 1,160 winners will be selected by lottery, according to the Rockford Register Star.


Wisconsin hunters’ dogged insistence on using their pets to help them hunt opens a curtain on some messed-up mental patterns. How can they love their pet dogs while killing innocent wolves for “fun”?

One explanation comes from a study by the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, which studied the mind games people play in order to eat “meat animals” while loving domesticated pets. ”Many people like eating meat, but most are reluctant to harm things that have minds. Our studies show that this motivates people to deny minds to animals,” researcher Dr. Brock Bastian said. Bastian calls this the “meat paradox.”

A similar phenomenon may be at work among Wisconsin hunters. They may deny that wolves have “minds,” while corralling their dogs into a separate category of animals who do have “minds,” or at least some characteristic making them worthy of human love and protection. This helps them overcome the cognitive dissonance of holding conflicting beliefs: that some animals are to be loved and others executed.

Animal advocates in Wisconsin might disagree that hunters are really loving and protecting their dogs, as they fear that including dogs in wolf hunts places the dogs in danger of death. It seems hard to argue the point: wolves are dangerous, especially when threatened.

(The government only recently removed Endangered Species status from gray wolves in Wyoming. In response, Defenders of Wildlife filed notice of its intent to sue the Obama administration to restore the protections for Wyoming wolves. Under federal law it cannot file the actual lawsuit for another 60 days, which will leave Wyoming’s wolves unprotected for over a month unless the administration reverses its decision before September 30, the day the wolves become fair game.)

Animal advocates aren’t the only ones opposed to the goings-on in Wisconsin. Indian tribes consider wolves sacred and vigorously oppose the decision to open a wolf-hunting season.

“The wolf, Ma’iingan, is considered sacred by the Ojibwe and figures highly in their creation stories,” Indian Country reports. Tribal member Essie Leoso said that “killing a wolf is like killing a brother.”

The rationale for hunting wolves, at least in some states like Wyoming, is that they are suspected of killing livestock. In other parts of the world, more creative people have come up with a way to use dogs to protect livestock from potential predators without anyone dying. Writing on, Lavanya Sunkara profiles a program in Namibia that trains domesticated dogs to protect livestock from cheetahs. The program has helped save cheetahs, who were being killed in large numbers by farmers trying to protect their animals. Thanks to the guard dogs, cheetahs have found other prey and attacks on livestock have dropped precipitously.

If only wolf hunters in Wisconsin were more interested in saving lives than taking them, like the farmers in Namibia, their dogs might be a lot safer.


Related Stories:

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Wolf Hunting in Wisconsin

Wolves Will Be Shot On Sight In Wyoming

Western States Killing Wolves by the Hundreds

Wyoming Wolves Attack Far Fewer Cattle Than Ranchers Claim


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Fi T.
Fi T.about a year ago

Can a man be used as a bait like this?

Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 2 years ago

This is so sad,poor animals and plus people attacking each other, here the issue is we had force the wild anmals to small reducts and of course they are claiming the space they need to survive and we still had not learn how to interact with wild animals invading their territories, is so sad humans claiming the land as properties and pushing animals to no where, of course they react.

Patti Schlichting

Let's put the hunters in traps and let the wolves show them what fear is really like! We could make it a reality show. They are not brave but stupid and egotistical. An eye for an eye would change their minds about the cruelty of hunting for "fun"????

katarzyna phillips

why do you need a dog to chase and kill another dog? what are the wolves doing that means they have to be killed in the first place? and what happens to them once they have been killed? there are plenty of other animals like rabbits you could go hunting for which would make sense. a cornered wolf could inflict major harm to your 'hunting dog' and then what would you do? and if tribes are saying they want the wolves protected, who do these people think they are to go over that? disgusting and shame on them for such unnecessary bloodshed. their own dogs have descended from wolves anyway, so without the wolves, you wouldn't have had your 'hunting dog'. the irony is immense

Jan H.
Janet H.2 years ago

When they killed off all the wolves in the 1800's they used horses to hunt them and when a group of horses would come up on a wolf the wolf would roll over on its back as a sign of submission because it was so afraid, so it wasn't much of a challenge to kill them. I'm sure it will be kind of the same thing if these packs of dogs and hunters with high powered rifles come up on a lone wolf. Everyone I know is just plain afraid of wolves and they act like wolves are out to kill every human which is totally untrue because wolves shy away from humans. But with the support of taxpayer funded agencies like the DNR I'm sure wolves will be a thing of the past, once again.

Rosemary Lowe

Here is the rest of the statement, which cut off: "The next generation understands that the slaughter of our precious wildlife is unethical and has no place in modern society. "

Rosemary Lowe

Hunters are serial killers. Hunting for food is miniscule compared to hunting for so-called "sport." Even people who were"traditionally" subsistance hunters, no longer depend on whale blubber, seals, or any other wildlife to survive. They drive snowmobiles, ATVs, have T.V. and even fast food. They also have high tech, high-powered weapons with long-range scopes. The myth of hunting for food is just that. It's all about the Thrill of the Kill, and most people who truly care about wildlife understand this.

Here is some food for thought: This is a quote:

"The 'heritage' of hunting will continue its decline into irrelevance and will eventually disappear.

It is useful to dispel two myths. First, there is no “heritage” of hunting as it is practiced today. In the early days trappers and others hunted for survival. They would be appalled to see how their survival “heritage” has been transformed.

Second, hunting is not a “sport,” since any true sport involves two or more competitors, either individuals or teams, similarly equipped, playing by the same rules, let the best individual or team win. There is no “sport” when one “competitor,” the hunter, equipped with a high-powered weapon, camouflage clothing and other devices, pursues an unsuspecting animal.

The reason hunting has no future in this country is that the next generation of potential hunters will not accept these myths. The next generation understands that th

Diane L.
Diane L.2 years ago

"Hunters are Serial Killers".............well, now, Rosemary, I see you haven't lost your sense of worth, nor your values. I realize you aren't pro-hunting, nor am I but I am PRO allowing those who supplement their families food supply by hunting and those Native Americans and First Nationals people who do so for that same reason as well as culturally.

Heather O.
Heather O.2 years ago

Without wolf's there would be no Dogs... All dogs came from the wolf and share their DNA still today... This is a disgrace and total cruelty. It must be stopped. Kill Kill thats all most humans want to do if its not people killing animals they are killing people. Its one of the reasons I prefer animals to people always.

Rosemary Lowe

As a hiker and backpacker, I have met several coyotes, and even a bear. I never met one I did not like. I cannot say the same about humans I have met.

Roaming dog packs are another matter. They will stalk you, run you down, and they kill. Coyotes often get blamed for what roaming dog packs are doing. A small child was just killed in New Mexico by a pack of dogs. On the Navajo Reservation, it is estimated that 445,000 dogs are roaming loose, killing wildlife and humans at times.