The state’s first official wolf hunt will still begin Oct. 15, despite a Dane County Circuit Court judge’s ruling Friday that put a temporary stop to the use of dogs during the hunt, a top administrator with the state said Wednesday.
Judge Peter Anderson’s ruling last week, which also banned the training of dogs to hunt wolves, put the state in the position of deciding whether to start the hunt or call it off until staff with the Department of Natural Resources could rewrite regulations dictating how dogs could be trained and used to hunt wolves in a manner that would protect them from violent confrontations.
Kurt Thiede, the department’s land division administrator, said because the wolf hunt rules specified that dogs could not be used until Nov. 26 - or the first Monday following the end of the nine-day gun deer-hunting season - the department has decided to go ahead and start the wolf season.
“We are moving ahead with the hunt beginning Oct. 15,” Thiede says. “From now until Nov. 26, we will be working to address the dog issues.”
He said at this time, it is unclear if the Legislature, the Natural Resources Board or both entities would have to approve any dog-specific changes to the wolf hunt.
Anderson's issuance of a temporary injunction came in a lawsuit brought by several Wisconsin humane societies, who claimed the lack of rules to protect dogs used for wolf hunting from violent conflict with wolves would lead to the unnecessary killing of hunting hounds. Wisconsin is the only state that would allow dogs to be used to hunt wolves.
Anderson is set to rule Sept. 14 on a motion from the state to dismiss the lawsuit.
To date, more than 19,000 applications for wolf hunting permits have been submitted to the state. The DNR says it will award 1,160 permits,with a harvest quota of 201 wolves for this first season. The most recent official estimate places the number of wolves in the state at more than 850.
“We are very pleased to be moving forward with the season,” Thiede says.