If you live in wolf country, you’re well aware of their presence. Many hunters and farmers want them removed completely, while others are more realistic and realize they are part of a healthy ecosystem, but must be managed accordingly. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, the following statistics and data are sure to make us all better informed about the big, bad wolf.
Since 1985, Wisconsin taxpayers have funded $1,449,420 million in damages to farmers, landowners and ranchers who have had livestock damaged by wolves. Of that $1.5 million, nearly $428,000 has been paid in reimbursements for hounds killed by wolves in the same time period. Part of the payments, almost $37,000, went to pet dog owners whose companions were either killed or injured by wolves.
As of July 31, 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) paid all livestock and dog owners $214,794.16 for damages caused by wolves in this year alone. That made the biggest payout for any year in state history since the program was established in 1985, according to a DNR report (pdf). In 2011, livestock owners received $93,180 in compensation for livestock killed, injured, or reported missing and any associated veterinary bills.
Last year, 15 hounds were killed by wolves which equaled a $37,000 payout to dog owners. The maximum an owner can be reimbursed for a dog kill is $2,500. The most hounds ever killed in any year was 2006 when 21 dogs died. Owners were reimbursed $51,000 for their dogs that year. Since 1985, 192 hounds have been killed by wolves.
On farms, ranches and in the wild in Wisconsin, wolves prey mostly on (figures indicate total number of each animal killed since 1985):
calves – 401
hounds – 192
chickens – 164
turkeys – 148
sheep – 138
cattle – 66
deer – 54
pet dogs – 33
goats – 13
horse/donkey – 12
llamas – 2
pig – 1 Hunter Andy Hemp of Neillsville had two of his hunting dogs killed in under two minutes by a pack of wolves in 2008. DNR photographs and accounts show grotesque remains of Hemp’s dogs when Hemp arrived on the scene too late during a bear hunt. His hounds were left with only their heads, spinal columns, tails and what looked like gallons of blood.
Although there is a lawsuit pending to prevent the use of dogs to hunt wolves in the upcoming Wisconsin wolf hunting season, Hemp and other hunters believe that hunting with dogs will reduce the number of dogs kills because the wolves will learn to fear the dogs if they are used in the hunt.
DNR Wildlife Damage Specialist Brad Koele said “It’s that hunter’s responsibility to take on that risk.”
Under the Wolf Depredation Payment Program, claims must be submitted within 14 days of the depredation occurrence using the Wolf, Endangered or Threatened Species Damage Loss Reimbursement Request (form 1700-060).