Agencies seek tips on dog poisonings in Wisconsin

Deaths reported in Florence, Marinette counties

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it appears poison that has been balled up within ground meat was intentionally left to harm wildlife. (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources photo)

MADISON, Wis. — A rash of suspected poisonings in northern Wisconsin that has killed several pet dogs along with wildlife has prompted an investigation by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

Dog deaths have been confirmed in Florence, Marinette and Bayfield counties; however, it is unknown if other counties could be involved, officials said.

The deaths occurred on public properties in those counties managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Goodman Timber Company, officials said.

Dennis Santini, a Kingsford dentist who makes his home in the Florence, Wis., area, posted on Facebook in late March that he lost two beloved springer spaniels within eight days after they came in contact with an unknown substance he believes was poisoned bait.

He stated in his post his dogs began having seizures after walking in the same area and investigating an “unidentifiable mass” he thought was a frozen animal organ.

The first death initially was attributed to an abnormal heart, Santini wrote. But after the second death, he went to the area where both dogs had been walked and found the mass — along with a dead raccoon.

Both the raccoon carcass and frozen substance were turned over to the Wisconsin DNR for testing, Santini stated online. He could not be reached for comment Friday but speculated in his Facebook posts the substance had been set out to poison wolves.

Lt. Andrew Lundin, conservation warden in northeastern Wisconsin, told Wisconsin Public Radio they’re aware of three dogs that have died, as well as several coyotes, a raccoon, a wolf and a weasel.

Test results are not yet available, he said.

“We’re in the process of working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife on having the species that we’ve been able to recover, including the most recent domestic dog, tested through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Laboratory,” Lundin told WPR. “That’s where we’re going to be able to, hopefully, determine that there is a connection or there’s not.”

DNR officials recommend people keep their dogs on a leash when walking outdoors and report any suspicious activity by calling the DNR tip line at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or going online to https://dnrx.wisconsin.gov/rav/.

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