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DNR sued over wolf hunting rules; WHS a plaintiff in lawsuit

Wisconsin Humane Society Joins Lawsuit to Protect Wisconsin’s Dogs

DNR Sued Over Wolf Hunting Rules



MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Board (NRB), asking the court to stop the DNR from authorizing the use of dogs for wolf hunting until reasonable rules are established to protect dogs from injury or death. Other plaintiffs include outdoorsmen, hunters, volunteer trackers, and other Wisconsin animal welfare organizations.


“The Wisconsin Humane Society is proud to be a plaintiff in this case, upholding laws that protect dogs from unnecessary suffering, which is central to our mission of building a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness,” said Anne Reed, executive director of WHS. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help bring this matter to the court, and we hope that the rules can be rewritten to provide reasonable protections for dogs used by hunters.”


On April 2, 2012, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law allowing a wolf hunting season in which dogs could be used to “track or trail” wolves.  The law left it up to the DNR and the NRB to write specific rules for a wolf hunting season.  Both the DNR and the NRB received scores of letters, emails and testimony submissions from citizens across the state, objecting to the unrestricted use of dogs to hunt wolves. 


Nevertheless, according to the plaintiffs, the rules as approved go far beyond allowing dogs for tracking and trailing.  “Under the rules as they are now, dogs can be trained and used to hunt wolves in ways, in areas, and at times that place them in jeopardy of dangerous confrontations with wolves, certain to lead to literal fights to the death,” stated Reed.  


According to the plaintiffs, the DNR rules lack reasonable restrictions to protect dogs from confrontations, grievous injuries, suffering, and death. The plaintiffs contend that without those restrictions, the rules go well beyond what the legislature authorized in the wolf hunting law, and are likely to lead to violations of Wisconsin laws which prohibit animal fighting.


 “Because the DNR and Natural Resources Board approved rules that lack the restrictions needed to avoid irreparable harm and violations of Wisconsin animal cruelty law,  plaintiffs found it necessary to seek the assistance of the court to stay the use of dogs in the upcoming wolf hunt,” explains Jodi Habush Sinykin of HS Law, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, together with Robert L. Habush of Habush, Habush & Rottier, S.C., and Carl Sinderbrand of Axley & Brynelson, LLP.


Experts have submitted affidavits that explain the high risk of death and injury that dogs face if used in wolf hunting without appropriate protections. These experts include Richard Thiel, retired DNR wolf manager who served 33 years with the Bureaus of Endangered Resources and Wildlife Management; Patricia McConnell, Ph.D, a nationally-acclaimed expert in canine training and behavior; and UW-Madison Professor Adrian Treves, Ph.D, expert in wolf habitat and behavior.




Fast Facts


Plaintiffs include:  Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, Dane County Humane Society, Wisconsin Humane Society, Fox Valley Humane Association, Northwood Alliance, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, Jayne and Michael Belsky, and Donna Onstott.


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