Lawsuit against DNR seeks to stop wolf huntA coalition of humane societies has sued the state Department of Natural Resources seeking to halt the state's five-month wolf hunt, claiming the agency failed to put in place regulations to prevent the inhumane and cruel deaths of hunting dogs in confrontations with wolves.
By: By Ron Seely, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
A coalition of humane societies has sued the state Department of Natural Resources seeking to halt the state's five-month wolf hunt, claiming the agency failed to put in place regulations to prevent the inhumane and cruel deaths of hunting dogs in confrontations with wolves.
The wolf hunt is scheduled to begin Oct. 15 and is the only such hunt in the nation in which hunters would be allowed to use dogs. As of Wednesday, the state had received more than 7,000 applications for permits for the hunt. The DNR expects to issue 2,000 or fewer permits in a drawing scheduled for the first week of September and has set a statewide quota of 201 wolves to be killed out of the total population of about 800.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court charges that the agency failed to comply with parts of a state rule requiring the agency to impose restrictions on training and hunting with dogs. The agency also violated provisions that require the agency to "curtail unsafe proximity between dogs and wolves," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the hunt until the DNR establishes reasonable restrictions on the use of dogs. An initial hearing on the request for an injunction is scheduled in Dane County Circuit Court for Aug. 29.Evidence submitted as part of the lawsuit, including testimony from a former DNR wolf expert, seeks to show that dogs used for hunting wolves are likely to suffer severe injuries or be killed by wolves in the absence of DNR-imposed restrictions that prevent direct physical encounters between the animals.
"Dog packs that will be used to chase a wolf or a pack of wolves will be regarded by the wolves as a threat," said Dick Thiel, a retired DNR wolf manager who submitted testimony as part of the lawsuit. "Attacks will be swift and furious. Dogs will be seriously injured and die, and wolves will be injured and die as they both fight by slashing out with their canines and carnassial teeth."
Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the DNR's action creates a "regulatory void" regarding the use of dogs in the hunt.
"It will be mayhem," said Sinykin, adding that the lawsuit proposes restrictions such as the use of leashes, breed restrictions, and special licensing requirements that require training for hunters who use dogs.
Bill Cosh, a spokesman for the DNR, said late Wednesday the agency was disappointed to hear of the lawsuit but had not had a chance to review it. Al Lobner, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters' Association, one of the hunting groups that lobbied heavily for the hunt, said dogs will be trained to avoid confrontations. He also said that when his bear-hunting dogs have chased wolves, the wolves run.
"All these people think these wolves are going to turn and attack a dog. That's not what I've seen happen," Lobner said.
Lobner said it is unlikely hunters would put their dogs in harm's way. "These people have it in their heads that hunters are going to send their dogs out there with no regard to the dogs. But they're investments. They're part of our families."
Among the groups that filed the lawsuit are the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, the Dane County Humane Society, the Wisconsin Humane Society, the Fox Valley Humane Society, the Northwood Alliance, and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition.
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