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Wolves kill dog near Merrill; DNR expands warning area

PARK FALLS - A dog being trained to hunt bears was killed by wolves on July 1 near Merrill in southwestern Lincoln County.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials say a second dog was injured.

Officials say this is the first reported attack since the start of the bear hound training season. The season started on July 1 and runs through August 31.

Because of the attacks on the dogs the DNR is expanding an existing warning area between Merrill and Rib Lake. Dog warning areas are listed on the Department of Natural Resources web site at:

The attacks on July 1 were apparently by the South Averill Creek Pack, which consisted of 12 wolves last winter.

The attack occurred in an area the pack was using as a rendezvous site, a summer home site where wolf packs raise their pups.

Packs use rendezvous sites from mid June to late September, after the pups are big enough to leave their den.

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites, and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups.

A pack will use from two to three to as many as six or more rendezvous sites during the summer. The exact locations vary from year to year and throughout the summer. The sites are usually forest openings or edge areas, with lots of wolf tracks, droppings, and matted vegetation.

Bear hunters are urged to exercise caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds in this area.

The most recent attack occurred in the southwest portions of Lincoln County, close to Marathon and Taylor counties. Some hunters have had success with bells on dog collars, but some dogs with bells have been attacked by wolves.

DNR officials say that if hunters believe their dogs have been killed or injured by wolves they should contact USDA-Wildlife Services as soon as possible at 1-800-228-1368 in northern Wisconsin and 1-800-433-0688 in central and southern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin list wolves as protected wild animals and they are listed as an endangered species by the federal government. The DNR does reimburse for loss of dogs due to wolf attacks.