Goku, a 4 year-old Weimaraner, available for adoption at the Milwaukee Campus.
Goku, a 4 year-old Weimaraner, available for adoption at the Milwaukee Campus.

An important meeting to save dogs

Ever heard of Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress? If not, you’re not alone. But you can make a difference for dogs if you attend a Conservation Congress meeting tonight, April 8, in your county.

The Wisconsin Legislature created the Conservation Congress in 1934, saying, "The conservation congress shall be an independent organization of citizens of the state and shall serve in an advisory capacity to the natural resources board." The "natural resources board" sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, and the Conservation Congress still advises it, often with great influence. The Congress holds regular meetings in each county where anyone can vote on "delegates" to the Congress and give direct input by voting on specific questions.

Dogs in the wolf hunt? Yes, unless something changes.

This spring, one question on the ballot is especially important for me. In 2012, the Wisconsin Legislature created a wolf hunting season, and specifically allowed the use of dogs in wolf hunting. That made Wisconsin the only state to allow dogs in wolf hunting. After a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Humane Society, Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, and others, a judge barred the use of dogs in the 2012 hunt.

The judge’s order ended up proving that no one needs dogs to hunt wolves. The 2012 wolf hunt was supposed to last until February but ended in December because hunters had killed the maximum number of allowed wolves in every "management zone" in the state, even though they weren’t allowed to use dogs.

After the 2012 hunt, though, the judge removed his preliminary order. Unless the DNR or the legislature changes the current rules, dogs will be allowed in the 2013 wolf hunt.

We know from sad experience that confrontations between wolves and dogs end horribly, for dogs and often for wolves, too. Wolves can’t climb trees like bears, or fly away like game birds. What they can do is tear a hunting dog apart with their teeth. It has happened far too often already when dogs hunting other game have encountered wolves in the woods. It will absolutely happen to many more dogs if we intentionally seek these encounters.
Reasonable animal lovers can respectfully disagree about whether wolf hunting should be allowed at all in Wisconsin. But mainstream animal lovers, hunters and non-hunters, widely agree that using dogs to hunt wolves is barbaric, unnecessary, and extreme.

How to be heard

You can help; your voice can be heard. You can attend the Conservation Congress’s "spring hearing" in your county and express your view about dogs in wolf hunting. You don’t have to speak publicly; you just attend the hearing and register. You’ll get a long ballot with dozens of questions, mostly about hunting issues. You don’t need to vote on all of the issues.

The key question is a bit convoluted: it’s question 68, "Would you favor legislation to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt and training dogs to hunt wolves?" My answer is yes, I favor legislation to prohibit using dogs in wolf hunting. I hope yours is too.

Conservation Congress hearings will be held in each Wisconsin county tonight, April 8, at 7:00 p.m., including the following locations in

Milwaukee County:

Milwaukee: Nathan Hale High School, Auditorium, 11601 W. Lincoln Ave., West Allis, WI 53227

Ozaukee County:

Webster Middle School, Commons, W75 N624 Wauwatosa Rd., Cedarburg, WI 53012

Racine County:

Union Grove High School, 3433 S. Colony Ave., Union Grove, WI 53182

There is more information on the DNR’s website here about the Conservation Congress.

Talkbacks

tjhughes | April 9, 2013 at 11:38 a.m. (report)

Wish I would have seen this article yesterday. I surely would have attended the meeting last night. Thanks for the info for future meetings.

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