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For wolf information contact:
David MacFarland
Carnivore specialist

Dog depredations by wolves in Wisconsin

Each year, with the beginning of the Wisconsin bear hound training and hunting season, hunters are reminded to exercise caution if they plan to train or hunt bear with hounds. Hunters should use the caution area maps below to help reduce conflicts during this year's bear dog training and hunting season.

**Anyone suspecting a wolf attack in northern Wisconsin should call USDA-WS immediately at 1-800-228-1368 (in state) or 715-369-5221. In southern Wisconsin call 1-800-433-0663 (in state) or 920-324-4514.

Wolves seen in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County.  Photo copyright of Dave Moquin.

Wolves seen in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County in summer 2009. Photo ©Dave Moquin.

Caution areas, dogs and wolf behavior

When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will create "wolf caution areas" (what are wolf caution areas?) to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs (see maps below). Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site. Table 1 contains a summary of the 2014 dog depredations by wolves with links to additional information and caution area maps.

As with other wild canids, wolves are very territorial and will guard their territories from other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs. Wolves are probably most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs at den and rendezvous sites when their pups are small, during the breeding season in January and February and when they are protecting a fresh kill. Wolf packs have pups in spring and then later will use rendezvous sites from mid May to late September, after the pups are big enough to leave their den. Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups. (What are rendezvous sites?)

A pack will use from two to three to as many as six or more rendezvous sites during the summer. The exact locations vary from year to year and throughout the summer. The sites are usually forest openings or edge areas, with lots of wolf tracks, droppings and matted vegetation. Move two or three miles from any rendezvous site, if possible, before releasing dogs. In addition, avoid releasing dogs at baits recently visited by wolves. When looking for bear sign at a bait, make sure to also look for wolf tracks. Be familiar with your own dog's tracks, so that you can distinguish it from any wolf tracks. If a specific bait site is receiving a lot of wolf use, discontinue using it until wolves have left and concentrate on an alternative bait site. Some hunters have had success with bells on dog collars to reduce wolf attacks, but some dogs with bells have been attacked by wolves.

Pet dogs

Although wolf attacks on pet dogs in residential areas are rare, they do occur and have increased in recent years. These types of attacks represent a special kind of wolf depredation to domestic animals. For additional guidance and information about protecting pet dogs and bear hounds from wolves, see guidance for hound and pet dog owners.

Dog depredations

Table 1. Dog depredations by wolves for 2014 (listed by date)
Depredation date County Dogs More information
1/1/2014 Clark 1 dog killed (Running Walker Cross, male, 8 yrs) Map/Information
1/18/2014 Price 1 dog killed (Beagle, female, 3 years) Map/Information
3/19/2014 Bayfield 1 dog killed (Walker, male, 2 years) Map/Information

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Caution area maps and depredation information (in chronological order)

Caution areas are created to warn hunters and dog owners about wolf attacks that occur in hunting situations. Caution areas do not represent actual wolf territories but rather are delineated as a four-mile buffer surrounding the depredation site.

Clark County
On January 1, Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated a hound that was running coyotes in southern Clark County. The 8-year old Running Walker Cross was killed in Levis Township. The caution area shown on the map below is comprised of a four-mile buffer around the depredation site.

Click for a printable caution area map

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Price County
On January 18, Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated a three year old female beagle that was hunting snowshoe hares. The attack occurred southwest of Park Falls in Price County. The caution is a four-mile buffer around the depredation site.

Click for a printable caution area map

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Bayfield County
On March 19, Wildlife Services confirmed wolves killed a 2 year old Walker male hound that was pursuing coyotes. The attack occurred in the Town of Barnes, Bayfield County. The caution is a four-mile buffer around the depredation site.

Click for a printable caution area map

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Last revised: Wednesday March 26 2014