Wolf Predation on Hunting Dogs

August 8, 2008 at 12:57 am Leave a comment

According to the Wisconsin DNR:

Wolves guard their territories from other wolves, coyotes, and domestic dogs. Wolves are probably most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs when wolf pups are small at den and rendezvous sites, during the breeding season in January and February, and when they are protecting a fresh kill. Packs use rendezvous sites from mid June to late September, after the pups are big enough to leave their den. Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups. Hound dogs used for hunting bear, coyotes, bobcat, and raccoons, are perhaps at greatest risk of being attacked by wolves. Dogs used for bird hunting are less likely to be attacked. Wolves normally avoid people and are less likely to approach dogs that are in visual or auditory range of humans.

Back in April, the Bismarck Tribune reported:

Gray wolves, otherwise known as timber wolves, have returned to Wisconsin in healthy numbers after being nearly eliminated from the state by the late 1950s by hunters who feared the animals were threatening the deer herd.

Last year’s surveys showed between 540 and 577 wolves in Wisconsin, Wydeven said.

As the wolf population has increased, so have depredation by some wolves on livestock, pets and hunting dogs has increased, Brust said. A wolf hunting season would be a way to keep the population in check, it also would help retain support for the recovery program, especially in Northern Wisconsin.

The Hudson, WI Star-Observer reports:

The hunters who lose the dogs are compensated but many bear hunters want the DNR to reduce the wolf population.

On the other hand, wolf supporters say the dogs have no right to run loose on public property where the training is supposed to take place.

From the Water and Woods Network:

“Since 1986, when the first claim was filed, we’ve had 82 dogs killed by wolves and 27 injured that we know of,” said Adrian Wydeven, Department of Natural Resources wolf expert.

“We paid for most of those claims, but there were a few cases when people did not request payment.

And:

Wydeven said 80 of the state’s 108 wolf packs are located where bear hunting with dogs is practiced, and three packs have been responsible for most of the recent attacks. “It seems some packs are more prone to attacking dogs,” he said.

Minnesota saw its wolf population increase from an estimated 2,450 in 1998 to 3,020 wolves in 2004 while wolf range remain unchanged. That means wolves are occupying smaller territories.

“I think we’re starting to see some of that here, too,” Wydeven said. “In the last few years, wolf territories have been averaging about 40 square miles. It used to be 50 to 60 square miles. Still, some territories are as small as 20 square miles, and others are as large as 80 to 100 square miles.”

A large deer herd can sustain more wolves on less land, he said. Where deer are in shorter supply, a wolf pack needs a larger territory to sustain it.

As wolf packs evolve into tighter territories, the odds of hunters and their dogs encountering wolves increases.

“We’re starting to see wolves moving into more developed areas,” Wydeven said.

Wolves have also been reported to kill dogs in Minnesota, Idaho, Alaska and the Dakotas.  Predation on bear hunting dogs has become enough of a problem in Wisconsin that the DNR has published a guide to help hunters reduce conflicts between wolves and their dogs and maps of ‘caution areas’where conflicts between dogs and wolves are more likely to occur are available on the WDNR website.  Ten dogs have been killed by wolves in Wisconsin so far this year.  Fifteen were killed in 2007; 23 in 2006; 13 in 2005 and eight in 2004 – so 2008 doesn’t appear to be a remarkable year for wolf depredation on dogs.

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Entry filed under: dog, dogs, wildlife. Tags: , , .

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