A hunting hound was killed by a wolf in the town of Komensky late last month, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now is urging hunters to be more vigilant about the safety of their dogs.
A wolf from the Nochi Hani Pack in eastern Jackson County killed a 5-year-old Plott hound that was chasing coyotes on Dec. 30, 2012. The event prompted the DNR to implement a caution area, which warns hunters to be more careful in the region.
“What we do know is when a wolf attacks a hound like this ... there’s a high probability they’ll attack another hound again in the next year or two,” said DNR wildlife ecologist Adrian Wydeven.
“We create these areas to warn hunters ... that they may want to avoid the area or be that much more cautious that there’s no fresh wolf tracks in the area.”
Wolf attacks on dogs more commonly occur when dogs are being trained to hunt bears in summer months, but they occasionally happen when hounds used for hunting coyotes and bobcats during winter months, Wydeven said.
The attack in Jackson County was the last of 10 that either caused injuries or deaths of dogs in Wisconsin in 2012. It is the first wolf attack on a dog by packs that cross into the county since 2010, when two dogs were killed and four were injured by the Bear Bluff Pack, also in eastern Jackson County.
The 2010 attacks prompted the DNR to implement trapping of wolves because their behavior indicated they were a potential danger to both dogs and humans.
Wydeven said the Dec. 30, 2012, attack in Komensky hasn’t prompted concern for humans. However, he said hunters should be more watchful of their dogs by not letting them roam as far from them as normal, and they also should keep an eye out for wolf tracks.
The state also is in the midst of its first wolf hunt since wolves were removed from the endangered species list in early 2012. The season started last October and will continue through Feb. 28 while hunters aim to decrease the state’s population of more than 850 by 10 percent.
“That is one of the intents of the hunting season — to help reduce the conflicts. We were starting to see an increase in conflicts because of the lack of controls (before wolves were delisted),” Wydeven said.
Jackson County has nine wolf packs that cross into it, for a total of anywhere from 39 to 44 wolves. The Nochi Hani Pack has an estimated five wolves. The newest caution area due to the attack last month is bounded east of Pray Road, south of Highway 54 and west of Highway K.
For more information on wolves, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/wolf/livingwithwolves.html. For more information on wolf attacks on dogs, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/wolf/dogdeps.html#nochi.