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Guidance for hunters and pet owners

Reducing conflict between wolves and dogs

As with other wild canids, wolves are very territorial and will guard their territories against other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs.

Hunters with hounds

Hound dogs used for hunting bear, coyotes, bobcat and raccoon are perhaps at greatest risk of being attacked by wolves. Dogs used for bird hunting are less likely to be attacked. Wolves normally avoid people and are less likely to approach dogs that are in the visual or auditory range of humans.

Hounds often hunt some distance from hunters, and their baying sound may present a challenge to the territorial wolves. The highest risk of wolf depredation to dogs seems to occur in July through September, and a moderately high risk occurs in December. These periods signal the summer rendezvous period, and the approach of the winter breeding season.

Reducing conflict

Avoidance of wolves is the best way to minimize conflict, but because wolves are so widespread, total avoidance may not be possible. Although wolves have large territories, they concentrate a lot of activity in specific areas, such as the rendezvous sites. One of the keys to minimizing wolf problems with dogs is to avoid areas with concentrated wolf use.

Ways to reduce conflict include:

  • find information on the dog depredation page or from your local wildlife biologist about possible wolf attacks on dogs in your hunting area;
  • attempt to stay as close to dogs as possible;
  • move two or three miles from any rendezvous site, if possible, before releasing dogs;
  • avoid releasing dogs at bear baits recently visited by wolves;
  • avoid areas with high concentrations of wolf tracks, scats and remains of wolf kill;
  • learn to recognize your own dog tracks so that you can distinguish them from wolf tracks; and
  • use bells or beepers on dogs.

Pet owners

Attacks on dogs in residential areas represent a special kind of wolf depredation to domestic animals. In trailing hound situations, attacks generally occur with the pack defending pups at rendezvous sites. However, these types of attacks (defending rendezvous sites) would normally only occur from mid-June through late September, when rendezvous sites are in use. In the case of dogs attacked near homes, these may occur throughout the year and outside the summer rendezvous period. In these specific cases, wolves are probably attacking dogs in defense of the edges of their territory, or they may be preying on dogs as food sources.

These types of depredations have been relatively uncommon, but have been on the increase in recent years. Even in a territorial dispute that was not intended as predation, once a dog is dead, if wolves have not fed recently, they may consume the dog as a food source. For further guidance, read Sharing the Land with Wolves.

If you live near wolves or near the edge of a wolf territory, try to avoid outside bathroom breaks for your dog after dark. If you need to let it out after dark, put bright lights on and make noise. Make sure your dog is trained to avoid chasing or approaching wild animals and is able to return on command.

  • Do not leave pets outside overnight unless they have a sturdy kennel.
  • Avoid feeding deer near your home.
  • Don't leave cat or dogs food outside at night.
  • Don't deposit table scraps or animal products near home sites.
  • Keep pets on a leash or in visual/ auditory range on walks and vocalize regularly including the use of whistles.
  • Don't allow dogs to roam at large.
  • Avoid releasing dogs outside for bathroom breaks after dark except in areas with good lighting or that are fenced.