Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dogs at risk of wolf attacks

By Rhinelander Daily News Staff

Dogs, particularly those used for hunting, may be in danger of being attacked by wolves in some parts of the Northwoods.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday reported wolves killed one hound and injured another in southwest Lincoln County. Bear hunters were training the dogs for bear hunting at the time of the attack, according to DNR mammalian ecologist Adrian Wydeven.

These were the first reported attacks by wolves on dogs since the start of bear hound training season, the DNR noted.

The attacks have caused the DNR to expand an existing warning area between Merrill and Rib Lake. Dog warning areas are listed on the Department of Natural Resources website at http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/mammals/wolf/dogdepred.htm.

The attacks on July were apparently by a pack of wolves known by the agency as the South Averill Creek Pack, which consists of about 12 wolves.

According to the DNR, the attack occurred in an area the pack was using as a rendezvous site, a summer home site where wolf packs raise their pups. Packs use rendezvous sites from mid-June through late September, after which time pups are big enough to leave the den.

Attacks occur because adult wolves are very defensive of the pups at the rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the site or the pups.

DNR officials say wolves will visit as many as six rendezvous sites, usually forest openings or edge areas, during the summer. They can be identified by wolf tracks, droppings, and matted vegetation.

Bear hunters are urged to exercise caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds in these areas. Some hunters have had success putting bells on their dog's collars, but some dogs with bells have been attacked by wolves.

If hunters believe their dogs have been killed or injured by wolves they should contact the USDA-Wildlife Services as soon as possible at 1-800-228-1368 in northern Wisconsin. Wolves are listed as protected wild animals by the State of Wisconsin and as endangered by the federal government.

The Wisconsin DNR does reimburse for loss of dogs due to wolf attacks.

  • Rhinelander Daily News

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