DCHS Joins Lawsuit to Protect Wisconsin's Dogs
UPDATED 1/06/2013 - Action Needed Please contact your Legislators
On January 4, Dane County judge, the Honorable Peter C. Anderson, held a hearing on the DNR's request to lift the injunction on the training and use of dogs to pursue wolves. The judge issued a two part ruling where under the existing law, dogs can be used to track and hunt wolves. However, since the DNR's existing rules for training don't take wolves or the danger they pose to hounds into account, the training of dogs to hunt wolves is prohibited.
We see this as an opportunity to deliver one succinct message. Call and email your legislators and demand that the Wolf Hunting Law be taken up first thing and FIXED to prohibit the use of dogs for hunting wolves.
A one-line bill can and should be introduced this week.Without a legislative remedy, Wisconsin, in effect, will be sponsoring and condoning state-sanctioned animal fighting--the setting of packs of dogs on packs of wolves with deadly and inhumane consequences. The majority of Wisconsin citizens oppose even the idea of enabling unleashed, radio-collared dogs to pursue wolves for their owners’ thrill as antithetical to their values and a threat to both their private property rights and safe use and enjoyment of public lands. This dangerous, unnecessary, and unprincipled hunting practice is outlawed in every other state in the country--for good reason.
As Circuit Court Judge Anderson stated in his ruling, the majority of folks in Wisconsin believe using dogs to hunt wolves makes no sense and is wrong, but that lawmakers and DNR sought to satisfy special interests, a small number of dog owners interested in engaging in this extreme conduct. This can and should be remedied.
In Wisconsin, you can easily find your representatives and contact information by going to: http://legis.wisconsin.gov and clicking on the "Who Represents Me?" link.
UPDATE 12/10/2012 - Wisconsin DNR proposes wolf/dog hunting rules
UPDATE 12/1/2012 - On 20 December 2012, Dane County Judge the Honorable Peter C. Anderson will hold a hearing on the DNR's request to lift the injunction on the training and use of dogs to pursue wolves.
IF the Judge rules in the DNR's favor, hunters will be able to use dogs for hunting wolves and for training purposes IMMEDIATELY!
We are finding that MOST mainstream hunters OPPOSE the use of dogs to pursue wolves, as they feel it doesn't give game the opportunity for fair chase, infringes on the rights of landowners and other hunters year-round (because, after all, unrestricted "training" amounts to wolf hunting without guns), and increases the opportunity for dog to wolf conflict...bloody and awful.
Wisconsin is the ONLY state in the country to allow the training and use of dogs to pursue wolves. This is NOT the type of leadership that reflects well on our state!
Click Here for Talking Points and observations from the legal briefs filed by Wisconsin Mainstream Hunters, the ASPCA, and the individuals and humane societies who originally sought the injunction.
Recent Article: DNR proposes few alterations to wolf hunting rule
UPDATE 08/31/2012 - Dane County Humane Society is happy to announce that the judge has granted the injunction and dogs cannot be used or trained to hunt wolves at this time. DCHS is thrilled and grateful that this has happened, especially for the safety of the people, the dogs, and the wolves. DCHS will continued efforts once the trial begins.
About the Lawsuit
Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) 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.
“Dane County Humane Society is proud to be a plaintiff in this case, upholding laws that protect dogs from unnecessary suffering,” says Gayle Viney, Public Relations Coordinator for DCHS. “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.”
“The Plaintiffs encompass a spectrum of Wisconsin citizens from across the state— hunters, landowners, ecologists, volunteer trackers, and community humane societies—who object to the state-sanctioned use of dogs to hunt wolves without the restrictions needed to prevent deadly animal fighting in violation of Wisconsin animal cruelty law,” states Jodi Habush Sinykin, 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.
According to Plaintiffs’ filings with the Court, other than prohibiting wolf hunting with dogs at night, the DNR has failed to impose restrictions on training and hunting with dogs as necessary to comply with the statutory directive that dogs be used to “track or trail” wolves and to curtail unsafe proximity between dogs and wolves.
From the Experts
Evidence submitted as part of the lawsuit, through expert affidavits, points to the high risk of hunting dogs suffering severe injuries or being killed during engagement with wolves in the absence of restrictions that prevent the risk of direct physical encounters between the two canine species.
One such expert is Richard Thiel, a retired DNR wolf manager who served 33 years with the Bureaus of Endangered Resources and Wildlife Management and one of five people in the state who served on both the DNR’s 1989 Wolf Recovery Plan, which he chaired, and the 1999 Wolf Management Plan. “Dog packs that will be used to chase a wolf or a pack of wolves will be regarded by the wolves as a threat,” explains Thiel in his sworn affidavit filed with the Court. “Attacks will be swift and furious. Dogs will be seriously injured and die, and wolves will be injured and die as they both fight by slashing out with their canines and carnassial teeth.”
Nationally acclaimed expert in canine training and behavior, Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., also filed an affidavit in support of plaintiffs’ claim to enjoin the use of dogs to hunt wolves in the absence of reasonable restrictions imposed by DNR. According to Dr. McConnell, on-leash requirements for dogs training and hunting wolves, certified training, and breed restrictions are all necessary to prevent dogs from confronting wolves and, in turn, from suffering severe injuries and death in the ensuing fight. In Dr. McConnell’s professional opinion, without thoughtful and clear regulations, “Wisconsin’s wolf hunt will be little more than state-sponsored dog fighting.”
UW-Madison Professor Adrian Treves, Ph.D, another expert in wolf habitat and behavior, is in agreement. As set forth in his affidavit filed with the Court, “Because the rules promulgated by DNR are all but silent in terms of regulating how dogs may be used to hunt wolves and how dogs may be trained to hunt wolves, DNR has clearly failed to impose reasonable restrictions essential to the health and safety of humans, dogs, and wolves.”
What's Been Happening
In the weeks and months leading up to the Natural Resources Board’s approval of the proposed DNR rules package on July 17, 2012, both DNR and the Board received scores of letters, emails and testimony submissions from citizens from every part of Wisconsin, objecting to the unrestricted use of dogs to hunt wolves as antithetical to Wisconsin values and societal mores.
“DNR’s rules create a regulatory void certain to lead to irreparable harm, for in the name of wolf hunting, dogs and wolves will be permitted to confront and savage each other in a literal fight to the death,” explains Jodi Habush Sinykin. “The absence of corrective action by the Natural Resources Board made it necessary for us to seek the assistance of the Court to stay the use of dogs in the upcoming wolf hunt until reasonable restrictions are promulgated by DNR to prevent violations of the law.”
Plaintiffs’ filings in Dane County Circuit Court seek declaratory judgment and injunctive relief to stop the DNR from issuing licenses that authorize the use of dogs for wolf hunting until reasonable restrictions are promulgated to provide adequate protections for dogs and to prevent the risk of deadly physical encounters between dogs and wolves.
“As Plaintiffs in this matter, we are grateful that a Judge will have the opportunity to take a close look at the rules’ shortcomings,” states Pam McCloud Smith, Executive Director of Dane County Humane Society and Board President of Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, whose members include more than forty humane societies throughout Wisconsin. “The DNR’s inaction in the face of known risks and harm to animals is not in accord with either Wisconsin animal cruelty protections or our values regarding humane treatment of animals,” says Smith.
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.
How You Can Help
Donations are needed to support these efforts. If you would like to contribute funds to support this filing:
- Donate online and put "Wolf Litigation Support" in the comments field.
- Mail a check payable to DCHS with "Wolf Litigation Support" in the memo and send it to Dane County Humane Society, 5132 Voges Road, Madison 53718.