In some quarters hysteria is developing over the thought of the wolf elevation to big game status. Which by the way is a good thing for the wolf’s long-term outlook.
No matter how you feel about wolves in the wild, they are here to stay so get used to hearing and seeing them. The protection, preservationist extremists, also must get used to the idea that wolves have entered into the royal order of the respected game animals.
We have argued about wolves long enough so for the sake of the wolf let’s begin proper management enabling the wolf to live within the carrying capacity of the available habitat; this goes for some of my fellow hunters too.
The established wolf season framework is useful and makes sense. There are some controversial points that I feel compelled to address.
Here is a brief outline of Wisconsin’s wolf regulations-
These are not too controversial unless of course, you oppose wolf hunting:
• Season dates: October 15 to end of February
• Legal Weapons: Firearms, bows, crossbows
•Shot size: Larger than BB allowed
Use of dogs is controversial even some hunters are up in arms:
• Dogs: May use up to 6 dogs in a pack to track or trail wolves beginning day after Nov. gun deer season
Some deer hunters have concerns about dogs running during the gun deer season, that is not a problem due to dogs not being allowed until after the Nov gun deer season. Others including those who do not hunt and some misguided hunters just plain do not like the use of dogs for any hunting let alone wolf hunting. Some of your minds are most likely closed and not open to change, that is too bad; while others may be on the fence or think “to each his own” good for you guys and gals.
It takes a very specialized dog to run wolves, and I am not sure there are very many wolf hounds in Wisconsin. The wolf hounds that may be here are probably not trained for wolf hunting. I wonder if there any trained wolf hounds in the United States other than those used by government hunters whose job it is to eliminate problem wolves in the West. (good work if you can get it)
If any hounds-men think they can use their bear hounds for wolves be very careful, the required training is different. Wolves are territorial in the extreme, packs of wolves fight each other when one pack violates the territory of another. Wolves kill each other in these battles so the average pack of hounds unfamiliar with “fight to the death tactics” will be at a disadvantage. A wolf being chased is not going to come to bay or tree like a bear does, rather it will find the rest of the pack to engage the trespassers. There are plenty of sad stories here in Wisconsin of hounds and other hunting dogs being killed by wolves.
Once hounds-men do their research I doubt they will run their dogs after wolves, so the concerns of those opposed to wolf hunting with dogs are overblown.
• Baiting: Shall be allowed but regulated
• Calling: Allowed including electronic calls
• Night Hunting: Legal option beginning day after Nov. gun deer season
• Use of Lights: Flashlights only at point of kill
Night hunting wolves raised some hackles; again not allowed until after the gun deer season. Coyotes and raccoons are hunted at night. So what is the problem here? Most night time wolf hunting will most likely be done from a calling setup as is with coyote hunting.
• Cable restraints: Shall be allowed as a trapping method
• Trapping: Shall be allowed with specific regulations
Trapping too gets under the skin of some who are just plain anti-trapping. Others worry about their bird dogs, yeah me too, but then if an area is known to have a lot of wolves they are a bigger threat to my bird dog than a few traps lying about. Currently during bird seasons trapping season is also open so I am already on the lookout for sets to steer my dog away.
Most wolf trappers will probably use a cable restraint so that non-target animals can be released unharmed.
Here are the preliminary wolf trapping regs-
Methods for Trapping
Traps: It is illegal to set, place, or operate steel-jawed traps
with a maximum spread width of more than:
• 7 inches from Oct. 15-Nov. 30 unless it is a water set.
• 8 inches from Dec. 1-Feb. 28.
Cable Restraints: It is illegal to set, place, or operate any cable
restraint for wolves except from Dec. 1-Feb 28. To be a legal
set, the cable restraint must:
• be 10 feet or less in length with a diameter of 3/32 inch or
larger and be composed of multiple strands of wire;
• have cable stops that ensure that the portion of the cable which
makes up the noose loop may not be longer than 48 inches
when fully open or less than 8 inches when fully closed;
• be set with the bottom of the cable loop 6 to 14 inches above
• include a reverse-bend washer lock with a minimum outside
diameter of 1¼ inches and a 1,500 pound roller swivel that
acts as the maximum opening cable stop; and
• be staked in a manner that does not allow the restraint device
to reach any part of a fence, rooted woody vegetation greater
than ½ inch in diameter, or any other immovable object or
stake that could cause entanglement.
The 2012 wolf hunting season proposal is a temporary framework, known as an emergency rule. During next year, the department will begin work on a permanent rule.
Information on the hunting season proposal can be found on the DNR website dnr.wi.gov search for keyword “wolf.”