Bear Hunters Urged to Avoid Running Dogs Near Ashland County Wolf Pack

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State wildlife officials are asking that people currently training dogs to hunt bear or preparing to hunt bear with dogs to avoid a remote area of Ashland County where a wolf pack has killed seven dogs in four separate attacks over the past month.

All of the dogs were attacked in an area of the Chequamegon National Forest in east central Ashland County west of the Village of Glidden, occupied by a wolf pack know as the Shanagolden pack, according to Adrian Wydeven, Park Falls, mammalian ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources.

The four wolf attacks on dogs were all verified by wildlife specialists with U.S. Department of Agriculture--Wildlife Services. The first attack occurred on Aug. 4, north of Forest Service Road 338, at the edge of a large swamp area, and involved three dogs. A second attack on a single dog occurred 2.5 miles to the east on Aug. 7. The third attack on two dogs occurred one-half mile from the first location on Aug. 20, and the most recent attack to a single dog was another mile to the south on Aug. 23. All attacks were within 2.5 miles of each other.

Wolves have been in the Shanagolden Township for a number of years, but these were the first dog depredations reported in the area, Wydeven said.

Wydeven conducted a survey in the area after the first attack and determined it did have wolf pups present. The pack was thus more aggressive to other dogs and other canines entering their territory in an effort to protect the pups.

“At this time of year, wolf packs with pups tend to remain in one general area, known as a rendezvous site. The rendezvous site serves as a sort of base camp where the pups are left behind while the adults go off hunting. We assume the adults were probably protecting the pups at or near the rendezvous sites in these attacks,” Wydeven said.

People may train dogs by pursuing bear from July 1 through Aug. 31 on public lands. The bear hunting season for people hunting with the aid of dogs opens Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 5. Wydeven says it is likely the wolf pack will still be near their rendezvous site when the season opens, so hunters with dogs should avoid going into this area.

The area hunters and dog trainers are being asked to avoid is to the area south of State Highway 77, north of Forest Service Road 164, and east of Forest Service Road 168 to the eastern edge of the National Forest. The center of the area where wolf depredation activity has occurred was near the junction of Forest Road 338 and 166.

In the past the DNR has indicated areas of caution when wolf depredations had occurred in specific pack area. But the current depredations are fairly intense, and the DNR is recommending that bear hunters totally avoid the areas of the Shanagolden Pack where these depredations have occurred. No depredation on hunting dogs during the bear dog training period have been recorded on 91 other wolf packs in northern Wisconsin.

The DNR counted 373 to 410 wolves in Wisconsin in late winter 2004, and detected 108 packs in the state. The Shanagolden Pack with nine to 11 wolves was one of the largest packs in the state. Wolf packs usually average four or fewer wolves.

Wolves are currently listed as threatened by the federal government, and are listed as a Protected Wild Animal by the State of Wisconsin. The federal government has begun the process to delist wolves from the federal list and return all management to the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DNR is conducting a review of the state management plan for wolves and is accepting comments to a questionnaire on wolf management through the end of this month.