DNR: Hunting dog depredated by wolves in Lincoln County

For the Tomahawk Leader

LINCOLN COUNTY – A hunting dog was depredated by wolves in Lincoln County.

On Monday, July 24, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services verified that wolves killed a Redbone trailing hound in the Town of Merrill.

USDA Wildlife Services verified the depredation on Friday, July 21.

The incident marks the first confirmed depredation of a domesticated animal in Lincoln County this year, according to DNR data.

One hunting dog was depredated in Lincoln County last year. In 2021, a wolf depredation of an undisclosed species occurred “close to a residence,” and DNR recorded the status of the incident as a “confirmed human health and safety complaint.” One confirmed hunting dog depredation took place in Lincoln County 2018.

Wolf caution area established

Following the verification of the depredation in Lincoln County, DNR established a “wolf caution area.”

On its website, DNR explained that it creates wolf caution areas when wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations in an effort to warn hunters of the attack.

“The purpose of these caution areas is to let hunters know that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs,” DNR stated. “It is the department’s experience that once a pack has attacked a dog in a hunting or training situation, there is a high probability another attack will occur again during the same year or within the following year.”

DNR said these attacks will generally be on trailing hounds used to hunt bears, bobcats and coyotes, but such attacks rarely occur on dogs in bird-hunting situations.

“Caution areas are not intended to close areas to hunting or training, but rather to advise hunters to exercise greater caution when hunting within these areas,” DNR stated. “Greater caution can include staying closer to dogs, avoiding releasing at bait sites recently visited by wolves and avoiding releasing dogs at or near the site of an attack.”

The caution area map is generally considerably larger than the actual pack territory because attempts are made to use highways or easily-recognized roads as the boundary of the caution area, according to DNR.

“Generally, wolf pack areas average about 40 to 60 square miles (five to 10 miles across),” DNR said. “Thus, portions of the caution area, especially the far corners, will be outside the actual pack area and represent no more risk than other locations across the landscape.”

The actual attack site is shown in a red-orange circle about one mile in diameter.

The Lincoln County attack site is shown in a red-orange circle about one mile in diameter, and DNR’s caution area is represented by the thin red circle. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

DNR said wolf attacks on hunting/training dogs most often occur at or near rendezvous sites.

“These sites vary from year to year, but when an attack occurs in July, August, or early September, the attack site should be treated as a proxy for a rendezvous site and is the primary location that should be avoided,” DNR stated. “The farther away you can stay from the rendezvous site/attack sites, the lesser your risk of attack on your dogs.”

To view wolf caution areas in Wisconsin, visit www.tinyurl.com/2s47k9yd. For more information about dog depredations by wolves in Wisconsin, visit www.tinyurl.com/56j8tey4.

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