Lawsuit filed against DNR over wolf hunting rules

Groups want regulations to help prevent inhumane deaths of hunting dogs
Lawsuit filed against DNR over wolf hunting rules

A coalition is suing the Department of Natural Resources to try to put in place regulations for using dogs for wolf hunting.

A group of humane societies and others filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court.

Animal activists said they are trying to protect the dogs that they say will die trying to take down the wolves.

The lawsuit claims the DNR failed to put in place regulations to prevent the inhumane deaths of hunting dogs in confrontations with wolves.

The lawsuit is full of graphic pictures and bold statements from organizations trying to prove the DNR’s lack of regulations allows hunting to become a blood-sport.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they hope the graphic photos of dogs killed by wolves make it clear when dogs shouldn’t be used to hunt wolves.

The five-month wolf hunt is scheduled to begin Oct. 15. It is the only such hunt in the nation in which hunters would be allowed to use dogs.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the hunt until the DNR establishes reasonable restrictions on the use of dogs.

“It’s inevitable that there will be a tremendous amount of pain and suffering and injury to our best friends,” said Patricia McConnell, a nationally acclaimed expert in canine training and behavior.

Lawsuit filed against DNR over wolf hunting rules

McConnell equated Wisconsin’s upcoming wolf hunt to “state-sponsored dog fighting” given the lack of regulations to protect pets.

“This is very much a one-step-at-a-time procedure where, at minimum, we’re asking the DNR to mitigate the harm that will be done to dogs,” McConnell said.

She suggested implementing on-leash requirements, certified training and breed restrictions.

The law the governor signed in April will let licensed hunters use collared dogs in packs up to six to track wolves from mid-October to February.

Experts argued that wolves will feel threatened and attack, putting pets and humans in harms way.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in favor of hunting or not in favor of hunting, it’s about being responsible and humane, and I don’t know anybody in Wisconsin who’s not in favor of that,” McConnell said.

The DNR has 45 days to respond to the lawsuit. A DNR spokesman said the agency is disappointed to hear of the lawsuit but had not had a chance to review it.

The DNR said it’s simply following through on the law’s requirement allowing the agency to use dogs, along with bait and traps, and that more than 8,000 people, in and out of Wisconsin, have applied for this fall’s hunt.

Sen. Terry Moulton sponsored the original hunting bill, but he also declined WISC-TV’s interview request.

Until January, wolves were an endangered species. The DNR estimated there are now nearly 900 wolves in the state, but it hasn’t said how many wolf hunting licenses it will issue during a drawing in September.  

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