The first week of August was a gut-wrenching time for houndsmen in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where wolves killed five hunting dogs in three days. The dogs—which included at least two bluetick coonhounds and one beagle—were killed in three separate attacks. Thirteen additional wolf attacks have occurred in Michigan this year, all involving cattle.
"It feels like a war zone. It’s scary man. It’s crazy," Bill Thome, who owns a resort near where the dogs were killed, told Michigan Live. "One was running right down the middle of the freakin’ road."
Thome's commentary to Michigan Live includes perhaps the saddest anecdote of all in this mess:
One of the dog owners, Michael Crippen, a guest at the resort, had two hunting dogs killed on Monday, Thome said. Crippen also had two bluetick hounds killed last fall.
The dog owner witnessed one wolf in the act of Monday's attack, and tried to collar the dog, which was killed.
“They were face to face for quite a few minutes,” Thome said. “One dog was baying up and barking at this big wolf. He (Crippen) could hear brush breaking all around him. They had him circled."
All five deceased hounds were participating in Michigan's hound training season, which apparently coincides with a time period in which wolves are particularly aggressive.
"It is not uncommon for wolves to become more territorial toward other canines during this time of the year, when wolf pups are left at a ‘rendezvous site' while the adults hunt," DNR spokeswoman Debbie Munson Badini told Michigan Live. "Other canines—such as hunting dogs training for bear or rabbit hunting—that inadvertently come too close to these rendezvous sites may be perceived as a threat by the pack."
That may be so, but five dead dogs in three days across several counties? If you ask me, that's a problem. And, on November 4, Michigan voters will have an opportunity to weigh-in: Both pro- and anti-wolf hunting referendums are on the ballot. Let's hope Michigan voters consider these attacks.