There’s growing frustration for Wisconsin hunters after this years bear hunt has claimed a record number of dogs lives. The culprit isn’t the bears they are hunting, it’s wolves, which are a protected species and can’t be hunted.
A total of 40 dogs were killed by wolves in this years bear hunt, compared to only 7 in 2012.
“It’s a terrible thing when your dog’s eaten alive, you know, and it hasn’t happened to me yet but a lot of guys that i know, they’ve lost a lot of good dogs,” said Manny Eble, an experienced hunter.
Hunters like Eble are pushing for wolf population management, saying they believe the wolf population is much larger than the state claims.
The Wis. DNR claims the number is around 900.
“It’s an estimate — and that’s the world that we work in – but when you can put years of data trends in terms of whether the population is increasing or decreasing and certainly over the past three years that population has grown,” says Jeff Pritzl, Wis. DNR regional program manager.
“When you’re looking for tracks in the winter coyote hunting you’ll find 25 wolf tracks to 2 coyote tracks,” Eble says.
Former DNR biologist Adrian Wydeven believes the spike in dog deaths is because the class B bear license was eliminated, stating wolf population isn’t much different than in 2012. Because the permit is no longer required, he believes there is a much larger number of dogs out tracking bears than in previous years.
“20 seconds is all it takes and your dog’s literally ripped in half,” Eble said. “Blackberry pickers, a lot of people you talk to, they’re all carrying guns. They’re not worried about bears, they’re worried about wolves.”
Able believes until wolves are no longer protected, dogs and eventually people will be put at a greater risk.