Predator hunters don’t usually receive much publicity, but that changed recently when a Wisconsin organization defended a coyote contest against anti-hunting critics.
Several environmental and anti-hunting groups recently complained about a one-day coyote hunting contest held by northeastern Wisconsin tavern, saying federally protected timber wolves might be harmed during the event, according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article. That drew the ire of hunt supporters, who pointed out that such contests — and predator hunting in general — have been part of rural life for decades.
“No wolves are going to be shot. Nobody wants that,” Patrick Quaintance, president of the Wisconsin Association of Sporting Dogs, said in the article.
Hunt critics said they worried that wolves might be shot by hunters or mauled by pursuing dogs during the event, according to the report. The contest included categories for hunters running hounds and those using calls.
However, Quaintance said in the story that the opposition ran deeper, and that many of the detractors opposed hunting on ethical grounds and didn’t understand the culture of hunting. In fact, one hunt critic quoted in the article called predator hunting “gratuitous killing.”
“No hunter I know of wants to watch an animal die inhumanely,” Quaintance said in the report. “We try to dispatch them as quickly as possible.”
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden supervisor David Walz confirmed to reporters that he was not aware of any wolves being shot during Wisconsin coyote hunting contests.
“The vast majority follow the law,” he said in the article.
The story also cited the possibility that hunters might misidentify wolves as coyotes. However, timber wolves are far larger than coyotes, with much broader necks and heads.
Wisconsin allows coyote hunting year-round, and the activity is extremely popular during the state’s long winters. Wolves are currently protected in Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states after a federal judge struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove them from the endangered species list.
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Brian Lovett, Realtree's news blogger, has been an outdoors reporter, writer, magazine editor and book author for 27 years. Spring turkey hunting and autumn waterfowling take up most of his outside time, but he also enjoys fishing, deer hunting and upland-bird hunting. Lovett lives in Oshkosh, Wis., with his wife, Jenny, and their retriever.