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Wolves, like most members of the wild canid family, are territorial. Wolves will defend their territories and may attack other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs that are in their territory. Most wolf-dog conflicts occur during the bear training and hunting seasons, which overlaps with the time wolf pups are using homesites. Wolf pups remain at these homesites until they are ready to travel with the adults - usually in early fall.
Dogs, especially those used for hunting bear, are at risk of being attacked by wolves because they: (1) traverse large areas, which increases their chance of coming near or encountering a homesite; (2) are released at bear bait sites that also may be used by wolves; (3) bark while tracking, which may be viewed as a territorial challenge by wolves; and (4) are oftentimes some distance from the hunters and therefore not protected by the presence of humans.
Avoiding potential problems
To minimize the conflict between wolves and dogs, it is best to avoid areas of recent wolf activity. Wolves will concentrate much of their activity around the den and homesites. These sites often are not used from year to year and can change throughout the summer. Homesites usually are forest openings or edge areas and often are near water. They can be identified by the concentration of wolf tracks, droppings and matted vegetation. It is best to do some scouting beforehand and look for wolf sign before releasing your hounds. Be especially vigilant when starting dogs from a bear bait site and make sure wolves have not been using the bait. If wolf sign, and particularly the sign of wolf pups is evident, move to another area before releasing your dogs.
What you can do
- Report all suspected wolf-dog conflicts to the DNR immediately to allow a timely investigation.
- Become familiar with coyote and dog tracks, so they can be correctly distinguished from wolf tracks.
- Consider adding bells or beepers to dog collars - some hunters have reported this can reduce wolf attacks.
- Remain up-to-date on wolf-dog conflicts in the area you plan to recreate or hunt by periodically checking the map on this webpage.
For information on dog conflicts with wolves, contact the Marquette Operations Service Center at 906-228-6561.
Wolf-dog depredation events