OCONTO FALLS, Wis. (WBAY) — A record number of hunting dogs have been killed in Wisconsin by wolves during this year’s bear hunt and hunters are not happy about it.
Hunters are once again pushing for wolf population management.
Manny Elbe is an experienced bear hunter and says there are too many wolves roaming free.
“It’s a terrible thing when your dog’s eaten alive, you know, and it hasn’t happened to me yet but a lot of guys that i know, they’ve lost a lot of good dogs,” said Eble.
During this year’s bear hunt, a record 40 hunting dogs were killed by wolves.
Eble says it’s a simple equation — more wolf attacks, means more wolves.
But former DNR biologists Adrian Wydeven says the wolf population wasn’t all that different in 2012 when only 7 were reportedly killed by wolves.
He believes the spike in wolf depredation is a result of the class B bear license being eliminated. Wydeven there are likely a larger number of dogs out hunting and tracking bears this year since the permit is no longer required.
Eble says wolf population is larger than the state acknowledges – the Wis. DNR says the number is about 900.
“It’s an estimate — and that’s the world that we work in – but when you can put years of data trends in terms of whether the population is increasing or decreasing and certainly over the past three years that population has grown,” says Jeff Pritzl, Wis. DNR regional program manager.
“When you’re looking for tracks in the winter coyote hunting you’ll find 25 wolf tracks to 2 coyote tracks,” Eble says, convinced wolf population is the main reason for the dog killings.
Wolves are federally protected because they’re on the endangered species list meaning they can’t be hunted in Wisconsin. Right now the courts are determining if they should continue to be on that list.
Eble says until that’s settled, more dogs will be killed.
“20 seconds is all it takes and your dog’s literally ripped in half,” Eble said. “Blackberry pickers, a lot of people you talk to, they’re all carrying guns. They’re not worried about bears, they’re worried about wolves.”