To the Journal editor:
Regarding the beagles allegedly killed by wolves in Chippewa County, the owner states he could never come back and in good conscience turn his dogs loose and have this happen again. My question is, why turn a beloved pet loose in an area inhabited by wolves? Wolves are known to defend their territory against other canids, as indicated in "Wolf/Dog Conflicts" posted on DNR's website. Wolves, especially those with pups at rendezvous sites, will defend their territory from intruding canines. Surely there are other places to train dogs. Whether in a city or rural area, there is inherent risk in allowing dogs to roam unsupervised.
Being objective, wolf attacks, though rare, must be taken seriously. However, the story has many holes, leaving one to question its validity. Authorities were not called promptly: instead, photos were taken. Upon DNR's arrival, there was no evidence of depredation. So anyone can take a photo of a deceased dog and say a wolf did it? The story is inconsistent, as the number of beagles killed changed from report to report. One of the dogs that was initially alleged killed later turned up at a camp and was brought to a shelter. There it was declared severely underweight and covered with fleas and ticks. The owner stated he didn't want the dog back from the shelter. Is the shelter being compensated for the cost of treating the dog's health issues and care until a home is found? Pet homes are not abundant, and many dogs sit in shelters for months.
Have our national forests been set aside for hunters only, with free-ranging unsupervised dogs, whose goal is to pursue game animals? And let's wipe out the wolves in the area, because they might spoil the fun. What about the rest of us, who enjoy the serenity of the forest, its landscape enhanced by the sighting of a wolf, its silence broken by a wolf's howl? Those of us who know that a wolf is unlikely to be a threat and value its existence.
Our national forests contain prime habitat for wolves and other large carnivores. Wolves are least likely to cause conflicts in these areas, where they should be allowed to live and thrive.
Wolves fulfill a crucial role in our environment. They act in a symbiotic way, enhancing the ecosystem. They should be respected, not annihilated.