Tribes fighting to save Wisconsin wolves from hunters scored a victory when a judge temporarily banned the use of dogs for the purpose, the Associated Press reports. However, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the hunt will proceed, without the dogs.
The ruling of Judge Peter C. Anderson was prompted by a lawsuit filed by several humane societies against the DNR. When he first issued the August 31 ruling, state authorities said the hunting season’s mid-October start wouldn’t give the DNR enough lead time to draft new regulations.
The plaintiffs—the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Dane County Humane Society, Wisconsin Humane Society, Fox Valley Humane Association, Northland Alliance, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, and individual citizens—contended that the state’s animal cruelty act would be violated if dogs were used because there would be no way to avoid bloody fights between the animals.
Wisconsin tribes were not consulted before the April legislation allowing the hunt was passed. The Ojibwe consider the wolf a brother and therefore sacred. The hunting season runs through the end of February, with 201 wolves allowed to be culled, AP said.
Among other objections, environmentalists are not convinced that the wolf population can sustain being hunted. The fight mirrors controversies in several states over taking wolves off the endangered list and/or allowing them to be hunted if they threaten livestock. Washington State’s recent decision to cull the newly discovered Wedge pack prompted a letter from several groups to the state government saying the wolves had not been proven responsible for the livestock attacks they had been accused of.
DNR land division administrator Kurt Thiede told the Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, that since existing rules governing wolf hunts forbid the use of dogs until after the deer-hunting season—which means the issue wouldn’t come up until November 26 this year anyway—there is no reason not to start the wolf-hunting season as planned.
“We are moving ahead with the hunt beginning October 15,” Thiede told the newspaper. “From now until November 26, we will be working to address the dog issues.”