What happens when a wolf is trapped?


More than 50 wolves have died after first being caught in a leg trap. Retired DNR Wildlife Biologist Dick Thiel says it isn’t the trap that kills the animal, “Really, they should be called paw hold traps. They just hold the animal until the trapper comes up to it.”

Licensed trappers are supposed to check their devices every 24 hours, and Thiel says the great majority of trappers do so. Thiel says if a wolf if found in a trap, it’s likely then killed, “To dispatch the wolf, it requires a rifle and you aim a bullet through the head or chest penetrating the lungs or the heart. Death is instantaneous.”

Thiel has served as an expert witness for humane societies as they’ve gone to court and so far blocked the use of dogs during the wolf hunt. But he supports trapping wolves, calling it one of the most efficient and humane ways to harvest the animals. However, he doesn’t like that trapping is allowed in some areas of the state where wolves are not killing pets or livestock, “To have a broad blanket harvest is not in the best interest of conservation.”

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But DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says that’s the legislature’s call, “The idea is to reduce the population of wolves.”

Some critics of trapping wolves note there’s also been at least one case of a dog caught in a trap. The

DNR plans to halt the trapping and hunting of wolves when 116 of the animals have been killed statewide, though a hunting zone could be closed before then.

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