Wisconsin DNR plans to ask hunters to let federal officer watch them skin wolf kills

From AP and WiG reports

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plans to ask wolf hunters and trappers to let a federal wildlife specialist watch them skin their kills to determine whether hunters’ dogs are attacking the wolves in the woods.

The state tactic comes as animal rights advocates and conservationists continue to challenge the state on its policies of allowing a wolf hunt and allowing hunters to use hounds to chase the wolves, which until recent years were protected as an endangered species across the United States.

Opponents of the wolf hunts and opponents of using dogs in the hunts maintain that the state is sanctioning dog vs. wolf fights in Wisconsin woods. Hunters maintain that the dogs do not engage with the wolves.

The state’s answer, as it prepares for another season of wolf hunting, may be to have a federal observer watch the hunters skin the wolves.

Dave MacFarland, a large carnivore specialist with the DNR, presented the idea to the Natural Resources board on Sept. 24. He said the proposal involves sending letters to those who receive permits to hunt wolves this season in Wisconsin and asking hunters to refrain from skinning wolves to preserve any injuries, according to a report from The AP.

Under the plan, a U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife specialist would set up an appointment with the hunter to observe the skinning and document injuries to the carcass. The information collected would be submitted to the DNR.

MacFarland told the board that the agency wants information on injuries on as many wolves as possible — not just those killed by hunters with dogs — so it can establish a baseline rate of bite injuries to compare against wounds on wolves killed by hunters with dogs.

The skinning inspections could cost the DNR about $10,000.

Critics of the use of hounds in the hunt emphasized that the participation by hunters would be voluntary. Those with dead wolves injured by dogs probably would not participate, they said.

Critics of the hunt emphasized that the state continues to ignore overwhelming public opposition to the killing of wolves in Wisconsin and the wildlife scientists concerned with the integrity of the wolf population.