A flood of wolves killed by hunters has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to close the state's wolf hunting season at 5 p.m. on Monday.
Hunters stepped up their shooting of wolves in northwest Wisconsin over the weekend, and the state is now very close to its harvest quota of 251 wolves. Hunters using dogs are responsible for almost all the weekend kills, and the state says the number of wolf deaths where dogs did the chasing is about 30.
Tom Hauge of the DNR says dog use over the last three weeks apparently went pretty well. “[It] seems to have been performing within normal side bars as far as we know,” says Hauge. “If there are problems out there, they may not surface right away.”
Hauge rejects the rumor that the state rapidly shut down the hunt because it's embarrassed by hunters posting more wolf kill pictures on social media. Some photos have hunters their arms around the wolves, holding the dead and bloodied with animals up for the camera.
Rachel Tilseth of the animal education group Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin says it's vital that independent experts can now verify that dogs didn't illegally fight with wolves.
“I’d like to have those wolves examined by an independent veterinarian,” says Tilseth. “This is a very controversial subject – this wolf-hounding – and I believe we need to see all the evidence.”