Tuesday, November 26, 2019

New US anti-cruelty law likely won't end WI-subsidized hound-wolf fighting

Glad to see that animal cruelty is finally a Federal crime.

Trump signs a sweeping federal ban on animal cruelty
However, the fresh legal protections will probably not prevent the continuing release of hounds to their deaths in known Wisconsin wolf activity areas because the new Federal law, as reported in Washington Post piece above, has exemptions for "recreational activities," including hunting, and other "animal management activities," as indicated in the above Washington Post story.

Needless to say, the hundreds of bear-chasing hounds that have been thrown into fatal jeopardy by their owners in recent decades did not find their violent deaths a matter of recreation or sound animal management. 

Not to mention the damage regularly inflicted on wolf dens which nurture the highly-structured wolf packs - - that, in turn, help cull weak or sick deer and otherwise contribute to healthy forests, science has shown

And additionally left in place: the stress on bears being harassed, chased and treed by packs of bear hounds running free during legal, bear-hunt 'training.' 

Also see this updated WI DNR website, then the FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] tab.

And while the dead hounds' Wisconsin owners get paid routinely and handsomely by the state (us) for their (dogs') trouble, it's worth asking again if this only-in-Wisconsin dead-hounds-for-cash plan is a matter of sound fiscal management, too:

2 more WI hounds thrown to wolves. Total DNR reimbursements to owners will exceed $800k 
The number of hounds killed in this homegrown, state-sanctioned and subsidized fashion is well over 300, and counting, according to this DNR reimbursement chart - - with more wolf-dog encounters sure to kill more hounds because this year's bear hunting 'training' season runs through Aug. 31. 
That's a lot of hunting dogs who had no say in the matter, and $800,000+ in public funds not available for public purposes. 
And while the state encourages these fatal wolf-dog fights and pays off the hounders, dog-on-dog fighting statewide is a felony.  
What kind of sick double standard is that? 
Both of the most recent subsidized kills were Redbone hounds, perhaps like this one:

Lena the Redbone Coonhound.jpg


Unknown said...

I think we have a very good chance of having a federal prosecutor look into dog fighting on federal lands. Fresh set of eyes!

Anonymous said...

So just out of curiosity, where do you stand on re-instituting a wolf season? I regularly read your blog and know you are opposed to running wolves with hounds. I live in wolf country and realize that there is a balance. Yes wolves cull the herd; however, fawns are not the sick deer and elk calves are not sick. The elk population has been stagnant due to the large wolf population. A large bull was killed recently by wolves, not a humane death. Wolves have taken out a number of pet dogs and livestock. They have killed a large number of deer in their wintering grounds. Read the story on the sheep farmer in Fifield.
People are opposed to leg hold traps, but that is how nuisance wolves are removed from areas and safely relocated. In your opinion, is it ok to reduce numbers by trapping? What about hunting by calling them in? Right now they are "top dog" in the Wisconsin predator world. There are two methods of keeping their numbers down: 1. Death by other wolves 2. Death by mange (natural yes, but very inhumane).
I am not disputing anything about your stance on hounds, but there is basically entire counties where I will not take my bird dogs to grouse hunt anymore. Yes bird dogs are taken out also. This is not reported very often because they just disappear. Most bird dogs are not outfitted with gps collars so they just vanish. There needs to be some population control. Like every other issue these days, a civil discussion can't even take place. Just like every political issue, the middle ground of common sense has no voice.

James Rowen said...

Thank you for your comment, which I am happy to publish. I do not support the reinstitution of the wolf hunt. I felt the most recent three-year hunt prior to its suspension was poorly managed. The legislature pushed it quickly on the DNR, and the DNR, in turn, kept allowing the kills to exceed quotas which I believed in some regions were set arbitrarily high.

I believed at the time that one factor driving the hunt was misinformation about the number of deer denied to hunters by wolves, while data show that hunting, cold weather and collisions with vehicles account for most deer mortality, and certainly more than what is caused by wolves.

You are correct that livestock - - I did read about the depredated sheep - - and pet dogs have been taken; the bird dog disappearances you reference are no doubt a terrible event for the dog and the owner.

I do not know the circumstances of the pet dog depredations. The numbers this year reported to the DNR according to its wolf depredation web page show four pet dogs injured and two killed. Between 1986 and April of this year, 52 pet dogs had been depredated, though the DNR record does not distinguish between injuries and deaths. As you are doing with your bid dog, caution by the owner is crucial.

People still let their dogs run off-leash in Milwaukee and suburban parks despite the presence of coyotes being common knowledge. I do not understand that lack of concern.

I had read about the loss of the elk. Was it one of the animals imported from Kentucky to begin rebuilding that herd for the limited hunt now underway? I'm sure as you say that death was not humane, or pleasant, or whatever is the right word - - though it is certainly nature's way - - and certainly the DNR understood there would be outcomes like that. As I understand it, all this season's elk kill permits were filled.

The use of leg traps is inhumane, if not brutal. And when the wolf hunt was legal, death by a head shot after being snagged was the number-one cause of legal wolf kills. Nothing about that strikes me as humane.

I was pleased to read that wolves (not from Wisconsin) were removed to Isle Royal - - though I believe they did not survive - - so even that sort of well-intentioned non-lethal effort does not necessarily work. Perhaps it can be tried again?

As to a solution, I can't offer one. I have read that if wolves are killed off, coyotes multiply in response. Aren't they now so numerous that anyone can shot them at will and even win prizes in coyote killing contests?

I strikes me, to sum up for now, that reinstituting a wolf hunt is another slippery slope that contributes to the degradation of the forest and wildlife, writ large, and that in Wisconsin, wildlife is considered part of the Public Trust.

Regardless, Congress mat remove the grey wolf's protected status, and after a battle in the courts, the hunt will be allowed again in Wisconsin, and I see no reason to believe that it will be significantly better defined or managed this time around. You may remember that the DNR during the previous administration removed wolf hunt opponents from its advisory committee and stacked it heavily with pro-hunt advocates.

That kind of process speaks to the power of special interests and lobbying, regardless of administration.

Again, thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late response. Too busy shoveling snow. The bull elk killed in our area was a mature bull near Butternut.
I see that since your blog post, the State Journal ran an article. I do not by any means know the answer, but I do know if winter continues up here like it started, there will be a catastrophic blow to the deer population.
I do disagree with you on whether leg hold trapping is humane. The control specialist in our area has been leg hold trapping wolves for years and safely relocating them. This does not mean every person who traps is ethical.
One thing for certain, every time someone talks in public about gut shooting wolves or hanging up treble hooks in meat, it gives a black eye to every deer hunter in Wisconsin.
There is a balance, and in a lot of areas of Northern Wisconsin, that balance is tipped too far towards the predators. In Southern Wisconsin the deer population is too high and needs to be trimmed down. Personally my attitude has changed from when we first had a rendezvous site nearby and saw wolves on a regular basis, they are impressive animals, to when a friend had to put down a beef cow that was tore to shreds while calving. By the way, these incidences are not often reported because the payment for cattle is not worth the protection of the pack in their area, so they take care of it themselves.