Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Release the hounds!

Last Friday Judge Peter Anderson ruled on the motion to ban the use of dogs for wolf hunting. Not Irish Wolfhounds like the good looking boy with No.2 son above, but packs of hound breeds trained for bear hunting. It was a mixed message from the judge, one that really didn't please either the DNR, who wanted no restrictions on anything, or the plaintiffs who wanted a total ban on the use of dogs to hunt wolves.  You can read the story here from the Milwaukee Journal and some blog commentary here from the same paper.  Judge Anderson said that "There is no evidence that there is a safe way to undertake training of dogs to hunt wolves. The agency (DNR) had authority to put in place rules, but it failed to act".  In another comment on training he said that, "It is not sufficient for the agency to disregard all the evidence on this issue, or more specifically, to do nothing".  He then turned around and dismissed the motion, which allows the hunting of wolves with dogs to begin next season.  In a nutshell you can't train the dogs but you can hunt wolves with them during the 2013 season.

It sounds to me that next fall in northern Wisconsin is gonna feature a few dog fights unless something changes. It's a bit puzzling to me how the same logic that Judge Anderson used to ban the unrestricted training of dogs would not apply to the actual hunting of wolves with dogs.  Once again, it is inevitable that there will be dog fights with wolves, especially when the wolves are cornered.  These dogs will be running through rough country in pursuit of the wolves where ATV's or 4WD pickups, the primary means of conveyance for both wolf and bear dog hunters, have difficulty navigating.  When the wolf has finally had enough and decides it's time to kick some hound ass, its going to take some time for the 'hunters' with their radio tracking devices to get to the scene so they can 'humanely' dispatch the poor wolf.  The real kick in the collective taxpayer's hind end is that when  one of these inevitable dog fights occur, we get to pay for the dog if it's killed!  You can't make that stuff up, you just can't.  Here is the DNR's own site on 'Dog depredation by wolves in Wisconsin'.  It would seem that DNR head Cathy Stepp and her bear dog buddies that came up with this unlimited dog training rule (actually it isn't really a rule, it's a lack of a rule as Judge Anderson pointed out) completely missed reading the publication that her own agency put out.  It would seem that the DNR has recognized and tracked these wolf/dog fights and has even generated maps of areas to avoid.  Here is what Ms. Stepp's agency publication tells us about wolves and how they behave when they perceive threats, especially from other canines:  As with other wild canids, wolves are very territorial and will guard their territories from other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs. Wolves are probably most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs at den and rendezvous sites when their pups are small, during the breeding season in January and February, and when they are protecting a fresh kill. Wolf packs have pups in spring and then later will use rendezvous sites from mid May 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.  To help prevent these encounters the DNR has created 'wolf caution areas' and a very good, common sense set of guidelines on how to best avoid those areas.  Enter the wolf hunter with his dog pack, gps radio collars, Toyota Tundra pickup, and six pack of Old Milwaukee Lite.  How do you think he is going to utilize that publication/website and its accompanying maps?  You think maybe he's going to let the dogs out smack dab in the middle of the caution area so they can get on some wolf scent?  To use a common phrase from my junior high bus rides, no shit Sherlock, of course he is.  Then when his Plott, Walker, Redbone, or other breed gets ripped up, we get to pay for it.  There is another unintended piece of fallout from this whole wolf hunting thing.  People who have tracked wolves every winter, trained by the Timberwolf Alliance in Tomahawk, WI, to assist the DNR in wolf monitoring, have told the DNR that they will not be tracking wolves this winter because the information, most certainly public like the caution maps, can be obtained by wolf hunters to help them more easily kill wolves.  This would include our group and hunting camp in the area of the Flag River pack in western Bayfield Co.
As usual, the state legislature created the mess and they can most certainly clean it up.  I would appear from objective evidence that wolf hunters did pretty well this year without dogs and in fact the season closed way early when the quota was reached.  There will almost certainly be a bill introduced shortly that calls for a ban on wolf hunting with dogs.  Put a little heat on them.  Tell Ms. State Senator and Mr. State Representative just what you think of this situation.  See if we can generate some of the same righteous indignation that we did when it came out that Michael Vick was sponsoring dog fights. Heck, maybe if that same logic was applied regarding aiding, abetting, and sponsoring dog fights and extrapolated to this situation, Cathy Stepp might be doing some time in Taycheedah Women's Correctional Institiution, a fine facility that I've personally visited and still makes me shudder 35 years later.  Send those state legislators a letter, email, or give them a call.  Or all three. This should not be any sort of party line thing.  From what I've seen everyone from bleeding heart liberals to reactionary red neck conservatives loves dogs.  I can guar-damn-tee ya, if this hunt goes through you are going to be buying some dead dogs with your Wisconsin tax dollars.  I can't recall hunting over many dogs that weren't faithful, loyal, and put out a good effort in the field.  These dogs deserve better than this poorly thought out wolf hunt is going to give them. 

(Photo credits: some guy in No2 son's unit; Wisconsin DNR)

This just in.  Plaintiffs in the wolf hunting with dogs motion, the one ruled on last Friday per the above story, have asked the judge to reconsider.  They will be filing a motion which asks him to review his own decision rather than appealing it at a higher level.

1 comment:

Nan said...

If they try hunting wolves with bear hounds or similar dogs, there are going to be a lot of dead and maimed dogs. Hunting bears, mountain lions, and coons with dogs works because those critters will climb trees to get away if possible. All the dogs have to do once they've got the game cornered is sit around, bark, and wait for the guys with the guns to show up. Wolves, on the other hand. . . our neighbor's pit bulls decided to go chasing wolves, which wasn't a real smart decision on the dogs' part. One dog made it home all torn up; the other one was found half eaten. My perception (and I could be wrong) is that wolves won't wait until they feel cornered; they'll turn around and attack as soon as they perceive a threat.