An odd thing happened this year in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, at least 40 dogs were preyed upon and killed by wolves during the month long bear hunting season.
Hunting dogs are often killed by wolves during bear hunting season, but never have the hunters in Wisconsin seen anything like this.
State Department of Natural Resources large carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland told the Journal that, “We don’t have much to go on except speculation,” MacFarland said.
It is estimated that about 900 gray wolves live in Wisconsin. Gray wolves, also known as timber wolves, have made quite the comeback in the Badger State. It’s estimated that about 900 gray wolves live in Wisconsin, the most at any time in recent history.
“It’s a terrible thing when your dog is 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,” Manny Eble, a bear hunter, told WBAY.
Many are calling for an opening up of wolf hunting in the state. Hunters believe that if they were able to reduce the number of wolves that they would see a sharp decline in the number of hunting dogs and livestock killed by wolves.
But not all Wisconsinite are convinced that reducing the wolf population would save more dogs. Adrian Wydeven, a former state wildlife biologist, explained to WBAY that only seven dog deaths occurred during the 2012 bear-hunting season, when the wolf population was almost as large as it is now.
Wisconsin bear hunters killed 4,643 black bears – falling just short of the state’s quota – during a season that concluded last Tuesday.
Before hunting season, the state’s bear population was estimated to number 28,900.