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DNR establishes second "area of caution" after wolves attack dogs

PARK FALLS - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has established a second caution area for individuals training bear dogs this year after wolves attacked hounds being trained for bear hunting in western Bayfield County near Barnes.

An earlier caution area was listed between Rib Lake and Merrill. Cautions are available at the Department of Natural Resources Web pages.

The Bayfield County attack occurred July 22, according to a wildlife specialist with USDA-Wildlife Services.

USDA verified that three hounds were killed and one injured. Bells have been thought to sometimes reduce wolf attacks, although two hounds were wearing bells at the time of the attack.

The wolf attack apparently occurred when the dogs got too close to the pack's rendezvous site, where the pups are left behind during summer months.

This pack was the Rainbow Lake pack which consisted of six wolves last winter before pups were born in the spring. This pack has not previously been involved in depredations on dogs.

This was the second attack by wolves on dogs during the current bear hound training season.

A previous attack on July 1 resulted in the death of one and injury of a second dog. Historically, wolf attacks are rare in Wisconsin; fewer than 10 percent of state wolf packs attack dogs.

"The owners of dogs need to exercise caution and be aware of wolf packs in the areas where they are conducting training activities. Wolves are very protective of rendezvous areas and pups kept at these sites," said Wydeven.

Currently there are about 115 packs in the state, and more than 90 occur in areas open to hunting and training of hounds.

DNR provides reimbursement for dogs killed by wolves, and lists areas of caution where dog depredations have occurred, to encourage hunters to exercise extra caution if they plan to hunt or train hounds in these areas.

DNR officials say bear hunters should avoid releasing hounds in areas with wolf signs, and near known depredation sites. Hunters should also stay as close to dogs as possible where wolves are roaming.

Gray (timber) wolves are currently listed as protected wild animals by the Wisconsin DNR. The US Fish and Wildlife Service lists the wolves as federally endangered in Wisconsin, but may remove wolves from the list later this year or early 2007, and return all management authority to the state of Wisconsin at that time.