No bells in wolf poop?
The field hunting dog training season has started and Wisconsin DNR is publicizing their online resources on wolf depredation on dogs. Now that more than 300 wolves currently live in Wisconsin and about 3,000 live here in Minnesota it’s become an issue responsible dog owners need to keep in mind.
Nine dogs have been reported as killed by wolves in Wisconsin so far this year. Just five such events occurred during the same time frame last year and only one dog was killed in the first six months of 2008. Events occurred in rural areas scattered across the northern part of the state and a different pack is believed to have been responsible for each incident.
DNR reports that hounds used to hunt coyotes, bear, bobcats, and raccoons run the greatest risk of being attacked because they range far from their owners. Some also believe that the hounds’ baying attracts (or annoys) wolves. Most depredation reportedly occurs in the summer rendezvous period that runs from July through September. The 2008 and 2009 data corroborate this.
Keep your hunting dog safe by avoiding wolf dens and rendezvous sites, staying close to your dogs and belling them, (only one belled dog is known to have been attacked by wolves). You can track depredation activity by subscribing to Wisconsin DNR’s wolf depredation email alerts here.
The DNR’s Guide for Reducing Conflicts Between Wolves and Hunting Dogs is also available on line. The guide includes helpful information on how to avoid conflicts, identify wolf sign and report incidents.
It’s great that wolf populations are increasing but more wolves means more potential encounters between wolves and civilization. Husband and I spend a lot of time hiking in the woods of the upper Midwest and we’ve had one wolf encounter. We were hiking near the Black River on the south shore of Lake Superior with three off leash dogs when we came across a lone wolf. As soon as they saw the wolf (and they saw it before we did) our Leonbergers quietly and calmly stepped in between the wolf and I. They didn’t bark, run or lunge. They simply stood at alert and blocked the wolf (who was about 75 feet away) until it disappeared.
If wolves live in your area follow these rules to avoid conflicts.
- Let your pets sleep inside unless they’re protected by a sturdy enclosure .
- Don’t put out food for deer or other wildlife near your home.
- Don’t feed your pets outside.
- Keep garbage, compost and other waste in well secured containers.
- Keep your dog on a leash on all walks unless he has a solid recall. If your dog has good obedience skills it is still important to keep in him sight.
As I’ve written here before it’s also important to avoid and properly manage gut piles.