Monday, August 07, 2006

Wolves maraud chicken coop- Spirit family shaken

DNR urges bear hunters to use caution with their dogs in wolf country

Ryan Stutzman - THE-BEE

Wolves slaughtered nearly 50 chickens in the town of Spirit during the overnight hours July 15-16, according to the family that owns the birds and the property where they were killed. DNR wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven confirmed to THE-BEE last week that wolves were responsible for a "massive surplus killing" on the Paul and Ilmi Nelson property west of Ogema on State Hwy. 86. The wolves took eight chickens from the scene and left 41 dead birds behind, according to Ilmi Nelson. Wildlife Services began trapping for wolves in the area a few days after the depredation incident. None had been caught before press time.

The Nelson-farm incident is the second verified wolf depredation in Price County this year. The other, at Greg Denzine's and Karen Kerner's beef cattle farm north of Phillips, occurred in late June. One calf was killed and left mostly eaten in the pasture near the farm house. Wildlife Services trapped in the area of the Kerner-Denzine farm also, with no results. Trapping activities typically last two weeks.

At least 15 wolves have been trapped and killed by authorities in Wisconsin so far this year, including a number of animals in Bayfield and Burnett counties. An animal rights consortium's lawsuit challenging the state's permit to kill problem wolves is pending in federal court, Wydeven said.

DNR urges caution among bear hunters

Meanwhile, as the dog-training season gets underway for bear hunters in northern Wisconsin, the DNR is promoting caution in wolf country. At least four bear-hunting dogs have been killed so far this training season, including one east of Rib Lake and three in a single incident near Barnes.

"Bear hunters should avoid releasing hounds in areas with wolf sign and near known depredation sites," a July 28 DNR release warns. "Hunters should also stay as close to dogs as possible where wolves are roaming."

The release outlines two "areas of caution" near where the two attacks took place. But wolves are known to range across most of northern Wisconsin, so the DNR is warning all hunters training bear dogs in the region to exercise particular care with their animals. Wolf attacks on bear-hunting dogs have been fairly common in recent years. Wolves see the dogs as a threat to their pups, according to the DNR.

Nevertheless, the overall risk to humans and domestic animals is very small, DNR biologists say.


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