Judge allows wolf hunting with dogs
MADISON Wisconsin hunters can chase down wolves with dogs during the state season but cannot train them to pursue the animals during the rest of the year, a judge ruled Friday in a victory for animal advocates.
The double-sided decision stems from a lawsuit that a group of humane societies filed last summer against the state Department of Natural Resources. The group alleged the agency failed to place any real restrictions on how wolf hunters can use dogs.
Anderson temporarily banned the use of dogs while he weighed the case. On Friday, he issued a final ruling that found the DNR had no obligation to impose restrictions on using dogs to hunt wolves. But he said the agency should have revised pre-existing rules that allow people to train dogs on wild animals to account for the "serious risk" training for wolves poses. Without those tweaks the rule cannot apply to wolves, the judge said.
"When I eat a piece of marble cake I could eat the whole thing, but I'm satisfied with one piece," Carl Sinderbrand, one of the humane societies' attorneys, said after the ruling.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said in a three-sentence statement the agency was pleased the judge chose to allow dogs in the hunt but was disappointed with the training prohibition.
State lawmakers passed a bill last year establishing Wisconsin's first organized wolf hunt. The measure scheduled the season to run from Oct. 15 to the end of February or whenever hunters reached a DNR-imposed kill limit. The bill allowed hunters to pursue wolves with up to six dogs after the end of the gun deer season.
Emergency rules the DNR adopted to create the hunt limited dog use to daylight hours but established no other use restrictions. DNR attorneys contended the agency had to adhere strictly to the provisions in the bill and had no authority to impose any tighter restrictions.