Hunting dogs triggering complaints

As the hunting seasons continue for animals like coyote and crow, the dogs used for the sport are becoming a source of complaints in Kewaunee County. Hunting dogs are commonly used for forcing birds into flight or tracking an animal’s scent on the trail. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says using dogs for hunting is a legitimate sport, but it becomes an issue if you stray off your own land.

Joski says hunters need to be able to maintain control of their dog during the hunt unless you are on your own property. If you are not, you and your dog must have permission to hunt on the land. You can read the full explanation from Sheriff Matt Joski online with this story.




This week’s article is a response to an increasing number of complaints regarding hunting dogs on private property. While the use of dogs for the purpose of hunting is a legitimate sport and brings with it some great opportunities for exercise and camaraderie, there are unique aspects to this sport as well as legal considerations. For those not familiar with how dogs are used in the hunt, it can be in a variety of ways. The first is bird hunting where the dog flushes out the prey ahead of the hunter forcing the bird to take flight creating an opportunity for the hunter. This typically does not create an issue as these types of hunts occur in a very refined area. Another way is where the hunter releases a dog on a scent trail of small game.  Once released the dog will stay on that scent trail for a great distance, which results in the dogs traveling across numerous sections of property. If this type of hunting is able to be done while staying on either the hunter’s property or property by which the hunter has permission, there are no issues.

        What we have been seeing is an increase in calls from property owners where these animals are running across their property and no permission was granted. Once contacted by law enforcement the hunters legitimize this behavior by saying that they have no control over their dogs once they get on a scent. While it may be true that the hunter themselves may not be trespassing, there is a law which is applicable in these circumstances.

         Wisconsin State Statute 174.042 (1)(a) “Dogs Running at Large” states the following:

“A dog is considered to be running at large if it is off the premises of its owner and not under the control of the owner or some other person.” What this means is that if the hunter is not able to call off the dog that hunter is not maintaining control of that dog. As it pertains specifically to the hunt, the statute goes on to state in 174.042(1)b)

“A dog that is actively engaged in a legal hunting activity, including training, is not considered to be running at large if the dog is monitored or supervised by a person and the dog is on land that is open to hunting or on land on which the person has obtained permission to hunt or to train a dog.”

        Bottom line is that if you are hunting with a dog you need to comply with two basic premises, the first being that unless you are on your own property, you must be able to maintain control of your animal throughout the hunt, and the second being that you and your dog must be on either your own land or land of which you have been given permission to hunt on. We are very fortunate to have a great DNR Warden presence in our county, and if you do witness either a trespassing violation or a dog at large violation, please contact our Dispatch Center and we will send either a Deputy or a Warden to investigate.

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