Hound Dog Training on Wolves


As of 12/19/2014, Great Lakes' Wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan have been relisted under the Endangered Species Act.  Training dogs on Wolves is illegal.

Historically, on 07/10/2014, hound dog training on wolves was legalized in Wisconsin. The hound dog training on wolves is regulated under NR 17.04, which are general regulations for all wild animals. Since there are no restrictions listed on NR 17.04 for wolves, training is essentially unregulated. Prior to 12/19/2014 hound hunters could train their dogs on wolves 24 hours/day; 365 days/year with unlimited packs of dogs, no licenses required on all public lands.  No other state allows the use of hound dogs on wolves.


If you would like to let elected/appointed officials know how you feel about training hound dogs on wolves, link to Take Action. 


The practice of running unlimited numbers of hounds day and night, day after day in a wolf pack's home range would potentially disrupt pack structure and could lead to a total breakdown of a pack unit, possibly cause them to leave their home territory or even abandon their pups.  The lack of enforceable regulations on the number of hounds or hours to restrict access to the woods during training puts pups as young as 3 months old at high risk of being killed by hounds. This hound dog training began on July 10th when wolf pups were extremely vulnerable. The constant day and night harassment by hound hunters will disrupt the adults' ability to feed those pups. Extreme disturbances such as hound dog training could cause "abandonment of preferred rendezvous sites and perhaps displace wolves to less suitable areas." The 1999 Wisconsin Wolf Management Plan states, "disturbance of den areas may cause premature abandonment of den sites and may expose pups to mortality; wolf pup mortality is already fairly high in Wisconsin". Based on the 2006-2007 Addendum to the Wolf Management Plan, it is not clear as to how/if disturbance of den sites will affect the survival/viability of packs. Summer and Fall are critical for pups to feed and gain weight to survive the coming winter and they are not yet full-grown by December. The WI DNR does not know how these added stresses will affect wolves or the chances of survival for other wildlife that the wolf depends upon during the most difficult time of year.


Since dog-wolf fights would be difficult to stop in deadly encounters during hound dog training, it is suggested that poaching will be considerable during hound dog training. Since the potential of poaching by hound hunters when adult wolves are distracted and engaged in fighting could be high; it would also affect the mortality of pups. As of 8/23/14, twelve hound dogs entering wolf territory have been killed by wolves either training for wolves or for bears. Dog depredations by wolves were at a historical high in 2013 and currently on/ahead of record pace. Hound training on wolves is expected to increase that level of conflict and could impact mortality of pups and pack members.


To illustrate the concern over the lack of regulations by the DNR to protect wolves and pups during training, the following ruling from the 4th District Court of appeals on training of dogs on wolves included this statement: "…Second, even though Act 169 permits DNR to delay promulgating permanent and more comprehensive administrative rules, it is not apparent why, now some two years later, DNR has not replaced the emergency rules with permanent rules. As far as we can tell, there has been ample time to do so. "


At the July 22, 2014 Wolf Advisory Committee(WAC) meeting, the committee discussed and "voted" on dates for training dogs on wolves under permanent rules (currently operating under temporary rules w/ no regulations). The majority voted for 12/2 thru 2/28  which is all the way through breeding season. Following the "vote", there was no discussion for putting regulations in place that would protect adult female breeding wolves during the breeding season, yearlings or pups. The Wolf Management Plan states that "Den and rendezvous site protection should be included even after wolves are delisted." At this same meeting, to no avail, the wolf recovery biologist stated concern about not only breeding season but that training in January & February would also limit ability to monitor wolves for mid-winter survey counts. A large number of trackers testified to this problem back in 2012.


To date, there has been no peer-reviewed research on the impacts of training hound dogs on wolves. There is no information on the impact of injuries and mortalities to adult wolves, breeding females, yearlings or pups where hound dogs are trained on wolves.




~WDNR state agency 

Under current DNR temporary rules as falls under NR 17.04 , there are no restrictions listed for hound dog training on wolves so the activity is essentially unregulated.  Hound hunters can train hound dogs on wolves 365/24/7 which not only has the potential to disrupt pack structure but impact breeding season as well.  Because of wolves' complex social structure, unlike any species in Wisconsin, training has the potential to negatively impact reproduction.


Our state agency has total authority

to regulate/remove training hound dogs on wolves.




Addendum Testimony of Richard P. Thiel - July 17, 2012
Wisconsin Wolf Recovery biologist, Richard P. Thiel, testified before the Natural Resources Board. He discusses the behavior and biology of Gray Wolves in light of the legislated use of dogs on wolves. In the end, he warns of "severe bloodshed and grievous injuries on the part of both wolf and dogs".
Richard P. Thiel Addendum Testimony.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 99.5 KB
Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

To illustrate how disastrous hound dog training could prove for Wisconsin's wolf population,  link to the following piece w/ comments from an oft-times noted wolf biologist:



"...The state’s wolves breed from February to early March.  And it’s serious business. At stake is their very survival…70% won't live a year...Humans cause a lot of wolf mortality, whether there is a [wolf] hunting season or not…"

The Permanent Rules along with the Management Plan will be presented for public comment this summer.  PLEASE ATTEND.  Will post dates when available.  (Scroll to bottom for pdf addendum testimony by Richard Thiel, Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Biologist)


March 6, 2015 Coyote hound hunters Polk/Burnett county
March 6, 2015 Coyote hound hunters Polk/Burnett county

"Why Wolf Patrol are documenting hound hunting of coyotes"

"...one of the greatest unidentified threats to wolves and other wildlife is Wisconsin’s liberal hound hunting season…" .  

Link here for 2-minute Wolf Patrol video.


Hound dog training/hunting in Wisconsin
Hound dog training/hunting in Wisconsin


"...what we did document was a recreational hunt for wolves that involves an excessive degree of technology that in our opinion demonstrates unethical hunting and unfair chase. Primary to successful hound hunting is the use of vehicles in the pursuit of wolves. Hound hunters routinely hunt from their vehicles, something illegal in other big game hunting, and use cell phones to coordinate their hound hunting activities. This is not the only time satellite technology is used in wolf hunting with hounds.

A common component in hound hunting today is the use of GPS-equipped dog collars that allow hound hunters to follow their dogs remotely. While this is convenient for the hound hunters, what it also does is reduce the amount of time a hound hunter is physically monitoring his/her animals. This is identifiably the most controversial element of the hound hunt for wolves and one that GLWP believes needs to be monitored more adequately...


Great Lakes Wolf Patrol’s conclusion is that the hound hunting of wolves does not constitute a legitimate game management technique due to the high probability of unpreventable violent encounters between hunting hounds and wolves. It is inarguable, that the legal running of hounds in known wolf territory is leading to numerous death and injury to hunting hounds, and the use of hounds to hunt wolves only increases the liklehood of more violent encounters. There is also a recognizable enforcement problem when the hound hunting season for wolves closes, yet the hound hunting/training season for coyotes and other animals remains open, leaving it impossible to distinguish illegal hound hunting for wolves from legal hound hunting (or training) of coyotes."

13 November 2014

A team of scientists publish research in Functional Ecology,"Wolf  hair reveals high stress in hunted population"