Judge Okays Wolf Hunting with Dogs in Wisconsin

A Dane County judge issued a final ruling last week that will allow hunters to use dogs to hunt wolves, but not to train them to track wolves during the year – making Wisconsin the only state in the nation that allows wolf hunting with dogs.

The decision stems from a lawsuit that was filed in August by animal advocacy groups against the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Board (NRB) over the provision that would allow hunters to use dogs, arguing that the agency failed to place any real restrictions on the use of dogs, in addition to claiming that the use of dogs would 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,” Jodi Habush Sinykin, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said at the time. “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 DNR argued that it did not have the authority to enact regulations under the existing legislation authorizing wolf hunting, ACT 169, which was passed last April. The bill allowed for hunters to pursue wolves with up to six dogs with an emergency provision that limited their use to daylight hours, but did not impose any other restrictions.

Judge Peter Anderson issued a temporary injunction banning the use of dogs in this years wolf hunt this summer, but issued a final ruling last Friday that state law, as it is written, allows for the use of dogs to hunt wolves and ruled at the same time that the DNR had the authority, but no obligation to impose restrictions on the use of hunting dogs during hunts.

His specific ruling was in regards to legislation on dog trials and training, which was deemed invalid since it was established in 2003 and did not include any language about wolves since they weren’t considered a game species at the time. Anderson ruled that in this case, the DNR did have an obligation to alter existing rules to deal with potential problems that could result between dogs and wolves.

“There is no evidence that there is a safe way to undertake training of dogs to hunt wolves,” Anderson said. “The agency had authority to put in place rules, but it failed to act.”

“It is not sufficient for the agency to disregard all the evidence on this issue,” he said. “Or more specifically, to do nothing.”

The pro-wolf hunting crowd seems happy with the decision, despite the fact that they clearly don’t need dogs to hunt wolves since the hunt was ended last month after 117 wolves were killed when it was scheduled to end at the end of February.

“We are pleased that Judge Anderson removed the injunction that banned the use of dogs for hunting wolves,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in a statement. “However, we are disappointed with Judge Anderson’s decision to prohibit training of dogs to hunt wolves. We will continue to seek input from the public and from stakeholders — including tribes — as we continue to develop permanent rules on the wolf season, and the use of dogs for both training and hunting of wolves.”

However, Assistant Attorney General Tom Dawson, who represented the DNR, argued that anyone is allowed to train dogs on wildlife as long as the dogs don’t kill anything and that those rules should allow unrestricted use on wolves.

The DNR is now working on creating permanent rules for wolf hunting and trapping in Wisconsin, which are expected to be finalized in 2014.

“There’s a bigger picture here; not just about wolves and not just about dogs. Its about whether the DNR is going to engage in rule-making the way it historically has based on science and based on environmental stewardship. Or whether the Natural Resources Board and the DNR is going to be excessively influenced by political pressure and we all know that’s what happened here,” said Carl Silderbrand, an attorney for the animal advocacy groups.

Elsewhere in the state, Deanna Devaul, a member of the Alliance for Animals, is organizing a memorial that will involve candles, bell-ringing and a poem honoring the wolves who were killed this season, which is scheduled for Friday afternoon in front of the DNR headquarters in Madison.


Related Stories:

High Death Toll May End Wisconsin’s Wolf Hunt Early

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

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Wolf Hunting in Wisconsin

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

very sad

Phyl M.
Dai M5 years ago

I think we should have dogs hunting this judge...put him in the wild & have him hunted, so he feels what the hunted go thru. Killing wolves is brutal & unjustified.

Gina C.
Gina Chronowicz5 years ago

I'm in the UK and can't believe this judge's decision. WISCONSIN is not in my travel plan. Someone mentioned Fox hunting with DOGS in the UK but it's not the same argument. EVERYONE SHOULD WRITE TO THE DAMN JUDGE AND DNR AND NRB Etc, DIRECT.

Audrey D.
Audrey Dawson5 years ago

typical American justice for wolves, wake up people of the USA... tell these yahoo polititions you wont vote for them unless the wolf is left alone to live their lives in peace...talk about gun crazy, and now some clown has ruled to let dogs rip wolves apart...the man should be locked up in an assylum for the mentaly insane

wendy cornah
wendy cornah5 years ago

Wisconsin - you suck

Christine Teeft
Christine Teeft5 years ago

And I thought that Judge was going to get his head checked at Mendota. Hunting with dogs, so big white man can be brave? Give me a break. Hunt wolves the way the Native Americans did, but they didn't hunt wolves, they were sacred to them. Can't anything be sacred to Americans? Why do we have to kill every animal? Wolves are a necessary part of a healthy ecosystem, I guess your judge doesn't know that. We torture, abuse, neglect, experiment, let the list go on. We're killing all our animals, wild or tame, and mammals and fish. Animals on farms are tortured for food. Look at some of the videos online. Turned me Vegan in a heart beat. Let the animal, mammals and fish live in peace for a change. Find some other way to get your thrills other than killing wolves with a pack of dogs. You guys don't even care enough about your dogs. I bet you have them in wire cages too. Sickening to say the least.

Amelia Coates
Amelia Coates5 years ago

This does not bode well for either wolf or dog. I was born in Iowa, had relatives in Wisconsin and now live in Minnesota. I am well aware that hunters, ranchers and farmers everywhere seem to be in control when it comes to animals. This is not right, but it is the way it has always been. And, if you are wolf and/or coyote, you stand no chance at all. The fact that wolf numbers are shrinking by the minute seems not to matter one iota to them. They matter very much to me; I don't want to see them hunted at all but I'd settle for not this way. Please stop this before innocent dogs get hurt and they double the effort on the wolf!!!

Melissa L.
Melissa L5 years ago


Phyl M.
Dai M5 years ago

I'm beginning to hate the state of Wisconsin. The Univ of WI allows such cruelty to innocent cats & other animals. Wolf haters seem to be in control of policies in WI. Animals in WI seem not to matter at all. We don't spend our vacation money in WI. Boycott WI!

Marcia Shiel
M s5 years ago

that judge is an idiot He is obviously in the pocket of hunters and trappers That's the problem All these guys care about is MONEY!! they are greedy cruel despicable humans with no souls There should be a law that we can go hunt these men with 6 dogs,ensnare them in steel traps and let them suffer for days freezing ,cold hungry ,in pain until they die