(GRAPHIC) Photos: Wisconsin Wolf Pack Kills Hunting Dog

(GRAPHIC) Photos: Wisconsin Wolf Pack Kills Hunting Dog

For a lot of folks on both sides of the wolf debate, it's something they deal with from a safe distance. But for hunters like Ron Hill, it's a war being waged in his own backyard.

On October 6, Hill and his hunting group were tracking a bear in Wisconsin — in an area familiar to them — with the use of their hound dogs, when one of the dogs got separated from the group and was brutally killed by a pack of wolves. The dog was a 1 1/2 year old female Treeing Walker and was killed in Douglas County.

According to Hill, after treeing a bear he realized that one of the dogs was missing. He and his group heard wolves howling, and at that point began tracking the dog by its electronic collar. As they followed the signals from the collar and drew near to the dog, the wolf pack kept pushing it away from them. Part of their tactic, Hill said, is to wait until the dog is worn out and then isolate it, preying on the weak.


After nearly three hours of trying to get to the dog, Hill said they began seeing serious amounts of blood splatter, all about 20 yards apart. As he approached, he realized that the dog had been torn to pieces by the wolves. The dog put up a fight over a 60 yard length, but was ultimately no match for the pack of skilled predators. Hill contacted state officials, who keep records of wolf depredation and assess the financial damages incurred by owners.


"I understand some people's sentimental notion about wolves, but a lot of that is misconception," Hill said. "Over the years I've spoken to many people about wolves, and most of them who oppose wolf hunting live in cities where they don't see the real damage that the wolves are capable of doing. They don't understand that as a farmer or landowner, they're destroying your livelihood and income."

The hound dog, valued at $3,000, was the third killed in the same area in 2012, which means that particular area is now listed on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website as one hunters should avoid. Despite the DNR payout, Hill said they'll probably be lucky to recover half of the dog's value.

Depredation on the Rise

The attack also illustrates an overall rise in the number of wolf attacks since 1999, when the state DNR reclassified the wolf as "threatened" and initiated a new program to protect the species. Since that time the wolf population has grown from 250 to 800 statewide, and with that increase has come the decline of whitetail populations and a steady climb in wolf-inflicted damages.


In 2000, the first year of the wolf protection program, there was one hunting dog killed by wolves. Since that time, there have been 166 hound dogs killed, with an average of about 15 a year. There have also been 31 non-hunting dogs killed in that time, not to mention livestock deaths — all of which the DNR tracks and pays for.

From 1985 to 1998, the DNR spent roughly $40,000 on wolf depredation. From 1999 to present, they've shelled out about $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars for wolf-related damages. The irony in all of this? The state and federal government shell out taxpayer dollars to protect the wolves, then turn around and pay for damages because those same wolves are overpopulated and destructive. This is the first year Wisconsin will host a controversial wolf hunt, which Hill says he's ready for.

"I think wolves, as well as other animals, need to be kept in check to maintain a healthy ecosystem. The wolves have been protected for so many years that the population has become a nuisance. They are killing livestock, pets and killing off game animals such as deer and elk," Hill said. "I'm glad that the state has given hunters  the opportunity to help control the wolf population."


Hill and his hunting group say they're prepared for the 2012 wolf season, which they drew eight tags for.

"Normally I'd be scouting out some good deer hunting, but this year's different. We're gonna go out and see what we can't do to fix some of the wolf situation. We're ready for it."

From the Landowners

Kevin Hogie, the landowner on whose property the dog was killed, said he's been meeting with 40 or so other landowners, as well as officials with the DNR, to help address the problem. After purchasing his land years ago for whitetail hunting, Hogie said deer populations don't leave much to be optimistic about.

"We've seen, and state studies have clearly shown, that there is a dramatic decrease in deer populations in the last ten years. We've decided as landowners that we have to get together and voice our concerns, and we've had some heated meetings with the DNR as a result, even talking with their biologist about this," Hogie said.

With a dozen trail cameras set up on his property, Hogie said there's an obvious and worrisome trend — most of the pictures are of wolves, not deer.

"I think the photos kind of say it all. You see photos with deer limbs being hauled around, we've seen carcasses all over the property, and just picture after picture has got a wolf in it," Hogie said.

Hogie said he's talked with the DNR this past week to discuss the latest kill and to apply for a landowner permit to hunt wolves on his property, but that request was denied. According to DNR biologist Greg Kessler, because the dog wasn't near his owner at the time, that makes Hogie ineligible for such a permit.

Kessler also said the DNR continues to monitor the wolf situation, as they have for decades now, and are keeping a very close eye on deer populations. He pointed out that while deer populations have declined, a lot of that was by design — six years ago record numbers of deer were deemed unsustainable, so the state acted by allowing more hunting opportunities at a lower cost to residents.

"We continue to monitor the situation actively and conservatively, though I know some hunters aren't satisfied with that. It's a biological and social issue," Kessler said. "They certainly have real concerns and we're trying to address those specific areas like Kevin's in the best way possible."

Wolf Attack

Ron Hill found the 1 1/2 year old Walker Treeing hound after a brutal attack by wolves.

Walker Treeing Hound

Ron Hill took pictures of the 1 1/2 year old Walker Treeing hound that wolves killed October 6 while on a bear hunt. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires proof that your animal was attacked by wolves; these pictures leave no doubt.

Ready to Hunt

At any given time Ron Hill and his hunting group will run about 10 or so dogs, which are tracked by GPS or electronic collars.

Hunting Group

Ron Hill's hunting group, after a successful bear kill.

Up a Tree

Ron Hill's hounds specialize in tracking and treeing bears, which is a useful way to manage growing populations.

Kevin Hogie's Trail Cameras

Landowner Kevin Hogie said he usually sees more wolves than deer. As wolf populations have had a resurgence, whitetail herds continue to drop.

Wolf and Pup

A female wolf appears to be carrying a young pup, as wolves near Kevin Hogie's property continue to multiply.

Thick as Wolves

Kevin Hogie said it's not uncommon to find deer carcasses on his property. The land near his property is the highest density population of wolves in the state.

State Protected

Since the state of Wisconsin introduced a wolf protection program in 1999, the state has spent roughly [imo-slideshow gallery=96].4 million paying animal owners for wolf attacks.

The Moosehead Pack

This map shows the pack of wolves that lives near Kevin Hogie's property, generally the same area where Ron Hill conducts bear hunts with his hunting dogs.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

Smith & Wesson's Tony Miele and host Kevin Steele track an African lion across the Kalahari for the ultimate handgun showdown with the King of the Beasts.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

Moon Phase Rut Tips

Moon Phase Rut Tips

John Dudley, technical writer and host of Nock On TV discusses why it's imporant to follow moon phases for the rut.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success. Whitetail

Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut

Jeff Johnston

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the 6.5 PRC. Guns

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC: Rifle Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2020

Mossberg's accurate Patriot Predator is the most affordable way to harness the power of the...

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you. Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

Are you leaving some of the best parts of your turkey in the woods? Recipes

Don't Waste the Best Meat: Wild Turkey Leg & Thigh BBQ Recipe

Michael Pendley

Are you leaving some of the best parts of your turkey in the woods?

See More Trending Articles

More Predator

Public-land predators have seen it all. Here are 5 ways to outwit them and find more success. Predator

5 Advanced Tactics for Hunting Coyotes on Public Land

Mark Kayser

Public-land predators have seen it all. Here are 5 ways to outwit them and find more success.

Mike Schoby hunts coyotes on his home turf in cetral Illinois. Predator

Challenging Coyote Hunt

PHTV Adventures - October 01, 2014

Mike Schoby hunts coyotes on his home turf in cetral Illinois.

Things were pretty good the first year Drew Johnson and a group of friends hunted elk in Montana's Predator

Why Anti-Hunters Are Dead Wrong About Wolves

David Hart - February 21, 2014

Things were pretty good the first year Drew Johnson and a group of friends hunted elk in...

South Texas brush country draws Kevin Steele to a coyote call-fest. Predator

Hit or Miss Coyote Call

PHTV Adventures - July 01, 2014

South Texas brush country draws Kevin Steele to a coyote call-fest.

See More Predator

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now