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Wisconsin gives hunters money when wolves kill their dogs – last year it paid out $100K

Last hunting season was a bad one for bear hounds.
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While it's common for states to have rules in place that compensate farmers when their livestock is killed by endangered wolves, in Wisconsin they give you money if your dog is killed by one during a hunt.

The state pays out up to $2,500 to owners whose hunting dog doesn't survive an encounter with a wolf, and last year the state paid out just shy of $100,000 for this reason.

This was nearly double the record high of $56,000 set in 2013, according to state records, and comes after 41 dogs were killed in the 2016/17 hunting season.

Few if any other states have similar policies in place, and while last year's payout figure could be a blip, there's a possibility it could stay that high this year too.

That's because the state's wolf population is recovering its numbers for the second straight year, with the DNR finding an over winter wolf count of between 925 and 956 across the state – a 6.8 percent increase on the year before.

While the wolves are federally protected endangered animals and, as such, can't be hunted, the Wisconsin State Journal notes that bear hunters come across them when they release packs of bear hounds, which are designed to chase their prey up trees, where they can be shot.

Critics of the $2,500 policy say it encourages hunters to run their bear hounds through wolf packs, the newspaper reports, at times when wolves are raising cubs and are fiercely protective. But some hunters say the high payouts are the result of a wolf population that's getting out of control.

Wisconsin DNR figures show that since 1985, the state has paid out more than $2.2 million for the loss of animals killed by wolves, which includes farmers' livestock and pet dogs.

During that time, the state has paid out $4,000 for the loss of llamas.

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