Timberwolves Killing Dogs, Cattle

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

Fifty-two years ago, timberwolves were nearly extinct. Since then, the DNR has banned wolf hunting. Now the timber wolf population is growing by 20 percent every year. One hunter in our area says he wonders if they are getting out of control.

Ron Manthe's four dogs were attacked and killed by timberwolves.

"I raised all the dogs." Manthe said. "I'm the one that did all the training. You get really attached to them, you know."

Manthe's been hunting in Wisconsin for 18 years, 10 of them have been with his four dogs: Sandy, Sam, Mikey and King. He says he has filed a claim with the DNR, but that will not replace what he has lost.

"It almost makes a guy want to quit." Manthe said. "You take all those years of working with these dogs and training, and just like that you have it all wiped out."

People who have had pets or cattle attacked by timberwolves, say they are upset because they believe the DNR brought the wolves into the area, but the DNR says that is not quite accurate.

"I think people are confused sometimes," said DNR mammal ecologist Adrian Wydeven. "They're familiar with stories from Yellowstone and out west where wolves have been re-introduced. We have moved wolves within the state when wolves cause problems."

The problem is, Wydeven says they are running out of places to relocate the animals; and because the government still considers them endangered, the DNR does not have the authority to euthanize them. It is also illegal for people to shoot them. People who kill wolves can be fined up to $100,000 and spend at least six months in prison.

The DNR says people can call the USDA's Wildlife Services to report problems with wolves. In Central Wisconsin they can call toll-free at
1(800) 433-0288. In Northern Wisconsin the number is 1(800) 228-1368.

wsaw.com: Extended Web Coverage

Wolves Quick Facts

  • A wolf can cover up to 50 miles in 24 hours.

  • Wolves have few natural enemies, and they have been known to kill other wolves that have been caught trespassing within their region.

  • Human intolerance for wolves has led to masses of wolves being shot, trapped and poisoned. Wolf populations are constantly pressured by the loss of habitat from land clearing, drainage projects, logging, mining, and road development.

  • The greatest threat to a wolf's survival is people.

  • Wolves are able to kill prey 10 times their weight, but are very shy of humans, and avoid them whenever possible.

  • There has never been a documented fatal attack of a human by a healthy, wild wolf in North America.

Wolf Population

  • Thousands of wolves once occupied the western Great Lakes area, but by mid-century, there were only several hundred wolves remaining in a tiny pocket of northern Minnesota.

  • After being given protection under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s, the wolf population has increased and spread into neighboring Wisconsin and Michigan.

  • Wolf counts from the year 2000 indicate about 2,450 wolves in Minnesota, 248 in Wisconsin, and 216 in Michigan.

Wolves: Fact Vs. Myth

  • Myth: Wolves are losing their fear of humans.

    Fact: There is no evidence that wolves were ever "afraid" of humans. Native American oral traditions do not indicate either that wolves feared, or that they did not fear humans. As both human and wolf populations increase, encounters between wolves and humans are bound to increase, but this does not mean wolves are threatening us.

  • Myth: Wolf attacks on pet dogs indicate wolves don’t fear us.

    Fact: Most of the dogs killed by wolves were either roaming freely or left in a yard overnight. An unattended dog is perceived by a wolf as another canine competitor within the pack's territory, which has nothing to do with how wolves perceive humans. Pet owners need to understand this very basic element of wolf behavior and be responsible for protecting their animals.

  • Myth: Wolf attacks on livestock are increasing.

    Fact: According to annual reports from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), the number of livestock killed by wolves fluctuates annually, but has actually been higher in past years, even when the wolf population was not as large as it is today.

Source: http://www.nwf.org/wolves (The National Wildlife Federation Web site) and http://www.nnic.com/mnwolves/myth.html (The Minnesota Wolf Alliance Web site)