Assessment of shock collars as nonlethal management for wolves in Wisconsin

Jason E. Hawley, Thomas M. Gehring, Ronald N. Schultz, Shawn T. Rossler, Adrian P. Wydeven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Lethal control alone has not proven entirely effective in reducing gray wolf (Canis lupus) depredations in chronic problem areas. Opponents of lethal control argue that more emphasis should be placed on integrating nonlethal strategies into current management. However, few evaluations have tested the effectiveness of nonlethal options. We compared behavior patterns in terms of frequency and duration of bait station visits for 5 wolves fitted with shock collars to 5 control animals inhabiting wolf pack territories in northern Wisconsin during summers of 2003 and 2004. Shock collared wolves spent less time and made fewer visits to bait station zones than did control animals. During and after shocking, wolves shifted 0.7 km away from the bait station zone. Although active shocking did restrict wolf access, which could be useful in controlling wolf depredations during a limited time period, conditioning was not clearly demonstrated once shocking ceased. The effect of shock collar design and operation on long-term conditioning and shock-conditioned wolves on pack behavior needs further study. If long-term conditioning is possible, shock collars could be used by wildlife managers as a nonlethal wolf management method in chronic problem areas where lethal control has proven ineffective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-525
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Behavior
  • Canis lupus
  • Gray wolf
  • Lethal control
  • Livestock depredation
  • Nonlethal management
  • Shock collars
  • Site-aversive conditioning
  • Wisconsin


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