When hounds and wolves meet, the outlook is usually grim—a fact not lost on Wisconsin bear hunters. But experts are baffled as to why so many hunting dogs were killed during the 2016 season.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), at least 47 dogs were killed by wolves during the bear hunts, more than double the previous record of 23 hunting dog deaths in one season.
Gray wolves have more than just a strong foothold in the state, with a population estimated by the WDNR to be 800 strong. Though removed from the Endangered Species List in 2012, wolves in the Great Lakes region were reinstated to the list in 2014.
Wolf hunts were allowed briefly after the delisting but have since been banned again.
“It’s a terrible thing when your dog is eaten alive, 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 Manny Eble, a bear hunter who thinks the wolf population in Wisconsin is most likely far more than the estimated 800 wolves. “When you’re looking for tracks in the winter coyote-hunting season, you’ll find 25 wolf tracks to two coyote tracks.”
Since the incidents, the WDNR has informed the public of the problem, creating an interactive wolf depredation and threats mapping application, as well as marking wolf caution areas to give hunters a heads-up as to where wolf attacks have been reported. For more information, as well as a link to the interactive map, click here.