MADISON, Wis. - A group of animal lovers held a candlelight vigil to remember the wolves killed in Wisconsin's first hunt, but not everyone brought out by the event was against the new hunting season.
Deanna Devaul placed the paper bags side by side in front of the Natural Resources State Office building in downtown Madison. Each of the 117 bags is labeled and filled with sand and a tea light candle, each representing an animal killed in the state's inaugural wolf hunt.
"To me, this this wolf situation is a blood sport and I do not believe in blood sports," Devaul said.
The wolf hunt ended in December, but about two dozen people came out to support the cause. Devaul, who pitched this idea in the first place, welcomed everyone and led them through lighting the candles, reciting poetry, listening to wolf calls, and finally putting out those lights. She said that was to signify each life taken by the hunt.
"Killing is not the answer," Devaul insisted. "There are other ways to control animals, and it's easy to kill. It's not so easy to work with the animals and let them live free."
Devaul blamed the DNR for allowing this hunt to happen, and also disagreed with that organization's decision to allow hunting and trapping on state park land. She said it puts too many people in danger.
In the shadows of the candles' flickering stood Shelly Seiler, holding a sign that showed her support of the wolf hunt.
"They are on our farm, and they are in the area, so you never know," Seiler said.
Seiler said so far, the wolves haven't taken any of her dairy cows, but her neighbor's dog was killed by a wolf. She said she's open to information from both sides of the argument, but decided to come out to the memorial to take action for her farm and her family.
"They were on my lawn, so my daughter is now scared to wait for the bus," Seiler explained.
Seiler said according to the research she has done, there is not enough deer to support what she calls a "booming" wolf population around her Columbia County home.
"I guess I feel that the wolf population in our area, anyways, is high enough that maybe we do need to do some management of the wolves to kind of help with the deer population," Seiler said.
As the vigil wrapped up, Devaul said she understands certain types of hunting, but in this casing, she's holding to her experiences with the animals and her passion for protecting the wolves.
"They were more afraid of me than I was of them, and I wish we could do it for all of our animals that suffer so greatly," Devaul said, "but we had to start somewhere, and this is a beginning, and hopefully this is a new beginning for all of our wolves."
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