Vermont Bill to Regulate Coyote Hunting with Hounds Won’t Prevent More Trespass and Cruelty

What began as a proposed bill that would ban outright the hunting of coyotes with hounds in Vermont, has instead become proposed legislation that would simply limit the number of hound hunters to 100 and require Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) to establish regulations on the winter time activity. In recent years, conflicts between hound hunters, landowners and people and their pets have increased in Vermont, which lead to state legislators introducing S.281 in February 2022. The bill is currently under review by both the house and senate and is expected to be voted on soon.

The original bill had received broad public support, after numerous incidents came to light involving animal cruelty and trespass on the part of Vermont’s coyote hound hunters across the state. Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department saw the direction legislators were taking, and quickly proposed changes that would still allow coyote hunting with hounds, only require a permit and establish rules. Because of the fear of a total ban on coyote hunting with hounds, VFWD has now promised to address this crisis for wildlife and people in Vermont but their reccomendations do not go far enough to prevent trespass or cruelty occurring out of sight of the dog’s handler or owner.

The amended version of S.281 would still require landowners to post their lands and inform hound hunters that they are not welcomed. Those allowed would be required to have written permission. Un posted or “unenclosed” private lands would not require written permission. The bill would also leave it up to Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Board to determine a definition of “control” a hunter must have over their hounds. Most hound trespassing occurs when dog(s) pursue a coyote, bear or bobcat where hounds are allowed onto or through lands where they are not. GPS collars used on coyote and bear hunting hounds allow remote monitoring from miles away, but not control. Most of the fighting that occurs between hounds and coyotes happens out of sight of the dog handlers who are often sitting in their trucks during coyote hunts with handheld GPS monitoring devices that tell them when their hounds have a coyote cornered or “at bay”.

S.281 still has to make it through the full Senate, House and Governor’s office before it reaches the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board for a rule making process where definitions of control and method of take will be determined. Board members are appointed by the Governor to six-year terms and the board has recently been criticized for being controlled by and composed of hunters, trappers and those unwilling to listen to the majority of Vermonters opposed to coyote hunting with hounds. (Another bill, S.129 that would have addressed this misrepresentation of the citizens of Vermont has evolved into a letter to the Commissioner of Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department.)

The spirit and original intent of S.281 has been changed by VFWD’s amendments which would still allow free roaming coyote hounds to cross onto posted and unposted lands where they are not welcomed. The amendments allow such trespass to occur, only establishing penalties for it and making it the responsibility of landowners to notify coyote hound hunters that they are not welcome. Maintaining control over hunting hounds must remain the foundation of S.281. Loose hounds are not a constitutional right!

As currently proposed, S.281 would also still permit up to 100 coyote hound hunters using free roaming dogs during winter. Each permitted license holder would still be allowed to be assisted by other hound hunters working in tandem from vehicles and snowmobiles. This means that the allowance of 100 permits would in fact still authorize hundreds more hunters to assist the individual permitted coyote hunter. There is no data on the number of coyote hound hunters in Vermont, but 100 is simply an unmanageable number given the current limits on the ability of VFWD law enforcement to monitor this activity in the entire state of Vermont with only 31 wardens. On March 13, 2022 a Addison County landowner that has frequently dealt with coyote hunters trespassing with their hounds, called his region’s VFWD warden to request assistance when the group again returned. The warden responded that he was unavailable and over an hour away.

Current Senate bill 281 with VFWD amendments…

While this bill is certainly a good first step in preventing coyote hunters with hounds from trespassing on private property, it still does not adequately address the cruelty caused when even one hunting hound is allowed to chase to exhaustion another dog, making the animal more susceptible to attack and mauling, as has been documented occurring within the state of Vermont in recent years. There’s still time! Vermont residents can still contact their representatives and ask that changes to S.281 be made before it is signed into law.

A Wallingford, Vermont hound hunter’s photo shared on Facebook after his hounds fought with a wounded coyote on January 16, 2022

Proposed changes to S.281 for Vermont residents to ask their representatives to request:

A reduction in the number of permits allowed from 100 to 31, which better reflects the actual number of VTF&W conservation officers (wardens) available to patrol coyote hunting with hounds in the state of Vermont.

A definition of “control” that does not exclusively require GPS/shock/tone collars which still allow hounds to be far away and out of the sight of their handlers.

A person shall not release a dog onto land, whether the land is posted or not posted, for the purpose of pursuing coyote with the aid of dogs unless the dog owner or the handler of the hunting dog has obtained a courtesy permission card from the landowner or landowner’s agent allowing the pursuit of coyote with the aid of dogs on the lands.

A limit on the number of dogs that may be used to pursue coyote that shall not exceed two dogs and a prohibition on the substitution of any new dog for another dog during pursuit of a coyote.

The legal method of taking coyote pursued with the aid of dogs limited to rifle, muzzleloader, crossbow, or bow and arrow and penalties for any instance in which a dog mauls or otherwise injures a coyote.

Required identification on every dog that is readable from a distance of at least 50 feet and that will allow a landowner to identify the owner or handler of the dog.

Required reporting of every coyote killed during pursuit with the aid of dogs.

A prohibition on the use of bait.

Vermont’s House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife will be reviewing S.281 March 30, 2022. Please email members:

asheldon@leg.state.vt.us,

plefebvre@leg.state.vt.us,

sbongartz@leg.state.vt.us

kdolan@leg.state.vt.us,

jmccullough@leg.state.vt.us,

lmorgan@leg.state.vt.us,

nbrownell@leg.state.vt.us

hsmith@leg.state.vt.us,

kmorris2@leg.state.vt.us

lsatcowitz@leg.state.vt.us

To find your VT state Senator:

legislature.vermont.gov/people/

Vermont Coyote Hounders Continue Intimidating and Harassing Landowners

On March 13, 2022 the same party of Addison County coyote hound hunters responsible for trespassing private lands in recent weeks, were again out hunting and harassing private landowners outside the small farming town of Shoreham. This time a private landowner came out to investigate suspected trespass and immediately became the target of their harassment.

Vermont’s pending Senate bill 281 would regulate coyote hunting with hounds and authorize 100 permits to hound hunters wishing to hunt coyotes with free roaming hounds. It would also require landowners to notify hound hunters that they are unwelcome, and require landowners to report trespassing to notify law enforcement before any future action could be taken to limit the trespass of free roaming coyote hunting hounds.

At 1:10, in the video VFWD officials claim wardens can adequately respond to hound trespass

Last week, officials with Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) testified to the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee that the agency’s warden service could adequately monitor the proposed 100 coyote hound hunters that S.281 would allow. Yet, when landowners called their local VFWD warden on March 13, 2022 during the confrontation with Addison County hound hunters, the warden responded that “his hands were full” and he was an hour away in Rutland, VT and could not respond.

Wolf Patrol is asking opponents of the trespass and cruelty that is inherent with coyote hunting with hounds, to contact Vermont’s legislators and ask that S.281 be amended to reduce the number of hounding permits that would be allowed, from 100 to 31 which is the actual number of wardens responsible for patrolling Vermont’s mountainous and rural 14 counties.

Photo shared on Facebook by a coyote hound hunter on March 14, 2022

CONTACT VERMONT LEGISLATORS:

To find your legislator:

legislature.vermont.gov/people/

Vermont’s Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee:

Senator Chris Bray cbray@leg.state.vt.us (802) 453-3444

Senator Rich Westman rawestman@gmail.com (802) 644-2297

Senator Mark MacDonald mmacdonald@leg.state.vt.us (802) 272-1101

Senator Brian Campion bcampion@leg.state.vt.us (802) 375-4376

Senator Richard McCormack rmccormack@leg.state.vt.us (802) 793-6417

Vermont S.281 Passes Senate Committee…Would Regulate Not Ban Coyote Hunting with Hounds

January 2022 photo shared on Facebook by a hound hunter from Wallingford, Vermont

What began as a proposed bill that would ban outright the hunting of coyotes with hounds in Vermont, has instead become proposed legislation that would limit the number of hunters and require Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department to establish regulations on the winter time activity. In recent years, conflicts between hound hunters and landowners and outdoor recreationists have increased in Vermont, leading to legislators introducing S.281 in February 2022.

S.281 as passed by Vermont’s Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee on 03/11/22

The bill has received overwhelming public support, after numerous organizations including Wolf Patrol exposed multiple incidents involving cruelty on the part of Vermont’s hound hunters. Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department saw the direction legislators were taking and quickly proposed changes that they have for years refused to implement. Only because of the fear of a total ban on coyote hunting with hounds, has the agency now promised to address this crisis for wildlife and people in Vermont.

Snowmobile used in conjunction with hounds by a Troy, Vermont hound hunter January 2022

The bill still has to go through a rule making process that is currently controlled by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board, which lacks representation from nonconsumptive wildlife users and is mostly comprised of hunters, trappers and those unwilling to listen to the majority of Vermonters opposed to coyote hunting with hounds. The bill must also be signed into law by Republican Governor Phil Scott.

Senators Chris Bray & Richard McComack discussing dissatisfaction with S.281 after it’s passage

Wolf Patrol believes the spirit of this bill has been changed by VTF&W’s amendments which would still allow free roaming coyote hounds to cross onto lands where they are not welcomed. The amendments allow such trespass to occur, only establishing penalties for it and making it the responsibility of landowners to notify coyote hound hunters that they are not welcome.

Vermont hound hunters with recently killed coyotes

We also believe that 100 hound hunters using free roaming dogs to hunt coyotes during winter is simply an unmanageable number, given the current limits on the ability of VTF&W wardens to monitor this activity in the entire state of Vermont. Each permitted license holder would still be allowed to have assistance by other hound hunters working in tandem from vehicles and snowmobiles. This means that allowing 100 permits would actually still authorize hundreds more hunters to assist the individual licensed coyote hunter.

While this bill is a first step in preventing coyote hunters with hounds from trespassing on private property, it still does not adequately address the cruelty caused when even one hunting hound is allowed to chase to exhaustion another dog, making the animal more susceptible to attack and mauling, as has been documented occurring within the state of Vermont during the practice of coyote hunting with hounds.  

Truck, snowmobile and hound used by a Troy, Vermont hound hunter

These are the changes to S.281 we are asking our supporters to ask their legislators to request VTF&W make when adopting new rules governing the hunting of coyotes with hounds:

  1. A reduction in the number of permits allowed from 100 to 31, which reflects the number of actual VTF&W conservation officers (wardens) available to patrol coyote hunting with hounds in the state of Vermont.
  2. A lottery system similar to that used for moose permits for the distribution of permits, not distibuted “at the discretion of the Commissioner” as the current language states.
  3. A definition of “control” that does not only require GPS/shock/tone collars which still allow hounds to be out of the sight of their handlers.
  4. A requirement that all coyote hunters using hounds obtain written permission from private landowners whether the lands are legally posted or not.
  5. A limit on the number of dogs used to pursue coyote that is one and the adoption of the proposed prohibition on the substitution of any new dog for another dog during pursuit of coyote.
  6. No baiting. This only encourages conflicts with coyotes rather than addressing them. 
A Vermont hound hunt for coyotes 2021

Vermont Coyote Hounders Unapologetic About Trespassing Hounds: Support Senate Bill 281!

It’s only the second week that Wolf Patrol has been monitoring coyote hunting with hounds in Vermont and it’s also the second week that we’ve documented potentially illegal activity by the same group of Addison County hounders. Last week it was a hound hunter attempting to shoot a coyote from a public road, and this week it was trespassing on private lands where coyote hunters did not have permission to hunt.

Addison County hound hunters leaving property where they were not welcome. 03/05/22

Last week, the hound hunters themselves claimed to have permission to hunt on the lands that we filmed them on, despite local residents who have experienced trespassing from the same group having invited us to patrol their property in the first place. On Saturday March 5, 2022 we caught them redhanded on lands that they did not have permission to hunt on. That is because hound hunters have no control over their dogs which can roam wherever the coyote leads them. This time it was on another private landowners orchard where their dog chased the offending hound off of their property in pursuit of a coyote that this time got away. Nonetheless, this was a clear case of trespass, where hound hunters were not welcome where they were hunting.

Hound hunter standing with unshouldered rifle in the middle of Basin Harbor Rd. 02/26/22

Wolf Patrol also reported the questionable activity we witnessed last week to the region’s Vermont Fish & Wildlife conservation officer (warden) and they confirmed that it is indeed illegal to discharge a firearm from anything but a “Class 4” road. When our monitors found the hound hunters last week, just as their dogs were chasing a coyote through private lands, we filmed one of the hound hunters standing in the middle of Basin Harbor Road (not Class 4) with a scoped bolt action rifle, prepared to shoot any coyote his dog chased out of the nearby farmland. The warden also informed Wolf Patrol that it was illegal to carry a loaded firearm while hunting in any vehicle, which we suspect was also the case as this hound hunter kept his rifle tucked next to his right leg on the driver’s side of the truck he was hunting from.

This hound hunter carries his uncased rifle next to him, ready to shoot coyotes from the road. 02/27/22

In addition, this party of hound hunters tried to run Wolf Patrol’s monitors off the road by driving in the middle of the public highway making us take evasive action to avoid a head on collision, flipping us off, honking at us, and otherwise doing their best to intimidate us. A Vermont Fish & Wildlife warden was in the area, alerted to the possible illegal activity by hounders by Wolf Patrol. The warden spoke to the offending hounders, but it was the landowner who was told that hound hunters have the right to hunt on any lands not posted properly according to Vermont state law.

This is why Wolf Patrol is asking Vermont residents to contact their state representatives and the Senate Natural Resources Committee to let them know that we support the passage of Senate bill 281 that would ban the hunting of coyotes with hounds. Make no mistake, coyote hunting with hounds is more akin to dog fighting than it is to any kind of hunting for food or sustenance. It is also the source of multiple conflicts with private landowners, not only in Addison County, but across the entire Green Mountain State.

An Eden, Vermont hound hunter with two recently killed coyotes.

The coyote hunters we have documented twice now rarely leave their trucks except when it’s to retrieve their loose dogs or shoot a fleeing coyote from the road. This isn’t an attack on all hunting, it’s a campaign against the kind of hunting that gives all ethical hunters in Vermont a bad name because of the inherent cruelty involved with using dogs, trucks, snowmobiles and radios to run down another dog.

January 2022 photo shared on Facebook by a Wallingford, Vermont hound hunter.

Please email Vermont’s Senate Natural Resources Committee today to let them know that you do not support legalized dog-fighting in Vermont!

Support Senate Bill 281!

Senator Chris Bray cbray@leg.state.vt.us (802) 453-3444

Senator Rich Westman rawestman@gmail.com (802) 644-2297

Senator Mark MacDonald mmacdonald@leg.state.vt.us (802) 272-1101

Senator Brian Campion bcampion@leg.state.vt.us (802) 375-4376

Senator Richard McCormack rmccormack@leg.state.vt.us (802) 793-6417

Senator Becca Balint bbalint@leg.state.vt.us (802) 257-4162

What’s Next For Wisconsin Wolves?

Wolf Patrol’s report from the February 2021 recreational wolf kill in Wisconsin.

Exactly one year ago today, I was witness to one of the worst examples of wolf management since the gray wolf rebounded from the brink of extinction and back into their rightful home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It was the first day of a court-ordered recreational wolf season that was organized by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in less than a week. Earlier in 2021, WDNR testified at a Natural Resources Board meeting that no wolf hunt would move forward without a new management plan and public input from citizen’s and tribal interests.

Wisconsin wolf killed at night with aid of thermal imaging and electronic caller during the 2021 season.

What we saw instead, was a rushed process made possible because of court actions brought about by a pro-hunting lobbyist organization from out of state, operating on the request of politicians hell bent on killing as many wolves as possible the moment they were removed from federal protections.

It took less than a day for Wolf Patrol to document illegality in the poorly planned hunt, all of which was reported to WDNR wardens and all of which resulted in nothing more than verbal warnings. Even though we provided evidence of a convicted poacher who had lost his hunting privileges participating in the two-day slaughter of over 200 wolves, WDNR still turned a blind-eye to the blatant disrespect hound hunters had for hunting regulations during what can only be called the largest hound hunt for wolves in U.S. history.

Wisconsin wolves legally killed by hound hunters in February 2021.

As the quotas quickly filled in each “wolf management zone” many witnessed the successfully orchestrated campaign by wolf hunters to delay reported kills or simply not report them at all, so that the actual kill would go way beyond the legal quota, which was almost doubled due to the concerted effort by Wisconsin wolf hunters to kill as many wolves as possible during the two-day season.

Had it not been for the February 2022 court order that returned federal protection to wolves in Wisconsin, we would have been witness to another slaughter this coming November. Wolf Patrol was a signatory to that legal petition to the federal court, which was largely successful because of the horrible example of state wolf management Wisconsin demonstrated on February 28, 2021.

Young wolves like the one pictured made up the majority of wolves killed in 2021.

Despite Wisconsin’s wolves gaining a reprieve from another WDNR managed slaughter this November, wolves are a long way from enjoying the federal protections ordered in February 2022. Instead they continue to face skyrocketing rates of illegal hunting and a poisoning campaign that has been documented in the Northwoods for over three years now.

In addition, the number one cause of human/wolf conflicts in Wisconsin will continue to be WDNR’s almost nonexistent bear hunting regulations which allow an unlimited and unregulated 7-month bear baiting season coupled with a two month bear hound training season at the peak of Summer wolf activity. Both of these practices will again result in numerous instances of bear hounds being killed by wolves, and with it more public calls by Wisconsin hound hunters for an illegal campaign of wolf killing.

Bear hound depredations by wolves 2013-2021 according to WDNR.

Wolf Patrol was the first advocacy group to monitor Wisconsin’s hound hunt for wolves in 2014. That was the last recreational hunt for wolves before another judge ordered the animals returned to federal protections. Beginning in 2015, Wolf Patrol began investigating the annual bear hound depredations by wolves that coincide with the start of summer bear hound training season, and we quickly discovered that wolves as well as bears were being drawn to the estimated thousands of unregistered bear bait sites that are often placed on public lands.

This was one of the wolf hunters Wolf Patrol documented in 2014.

In Wisconsin, we also documented each year how despite WDNR’s establishment of “Wolf Caution Areas” following bear hound depredations, bear hunters continued bear baiting and hound training in the very same areas wolves had only days before killed free roaming bear hounds. In the years leading up to the February 2021 court-ordered recreational wolf slaughter in Wisconsin, we also witnessed the citation by bear hunters and politicians of these preventable hound depredations as the reason it was necessary to again have a wolf hunt in the state.

A wolf feeds alongside a black bear from one of the thousands of unregistered bear bait sites in Wisconsin.

This Summer will be no different. Come July, as thousands of hounds are released again in the Northwoods to trail bears from thousands of intentional feeding sites allowed by WDNR and the US Forest Service on our public lands, more bear hounds will die. It it important to remember that WDNR does not require any license or permit to bait bears in Wisconsin. Not only that, even nonresidents are welcome to bring hounds from out of state to chase and bait bears through known wolf territory and if and when they get killed, the culpable hound hunters will be compensated up to $2,500 for each hound killed. Even if more of their hounds get killed in the very same wolf caution areas, they will be compensated.

Since 1985, hound hunters have been paid more than any other group for wolf caused depredations.

It’s time to recognize that Wisconsin’s war over wolves will not end until the state’s lack of restrictions on bear baiting and hound training are addressed. It’s also time to recognize that the crisis created by the lack of regulations will not be addressed by the WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee which is filled with bear and hound hunters. Nor will the lack of bear hunting regulations be reckoned with through Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress (WCC), which every year rejects citizen resolutions passed in multiple counties calling for more restrictions on bear baiting and hound training. Again, the WCC’s Bear Advisory Committee’s stated mission is to support bear hunting and increase bear hunting opportunities.

A Wisconsin bear hunter tries to convince Wolf Patrol to stop filming his hound training activities on public lands.

Addressing the root cause of Wisconsin’s ongoing conflict between wolves and bear hunters will have to be a political campaign, coupled with an ongoing citizen effort to force local authorities to address the continuing conflict hound hunters create not only for wolves, but private property owners, outdoor enthusiasts and even other bear hunters.

Wolf Patrol will continue its now 7-year campaign to expose the real culprits behind Wisconsin conflicts with wolves…hound hunters. Since 2015, Wolf Patrol’s citizen monitors have reported from the state’s many wolf caution areas where bear hounds are killed by wolves, and each year we have documented and reported gross noncompliance to even the minimal bear baiting regulations offered by WDNR. We have also continued to document the conditioning of wolves to being fed from Wisconsin’s bear baiting stations which at last estimate amounted to over 4 million gallons of bait being dumped on mostly public lands to attract bears so hound hunters can chase and kill them.

Beef calf carcass being illegally used to bait wolves during the February 2021 Wisconsin wolf slaughter.

It is also important to note that the poisoning of wolves and other wildlife is something that bear hunters have been promoting and will continue to promote especially when they are prevented from having a recreational wolf killing season in Wisconsin.

For these reasons, Wolf Patrol will again be monitoring the preventable conflict between bear hunters and wolves during the 2022 bear hound training and killing season. We are also asking all of our supporters to remain active on the state level and lobby your elected officials to address the lack of regulation on bear baiting and hound training in Wisconsin. Also, if you are a resident in an area with active bear baiting and hound training and hunting, consider offering to post not only your own land, but your neighbors as well and be ready to gather evidence when the inevitable hound hunter trespassing occurs. Report every incident to your local sheriff and keep records of every encounter with hound hunters.

And most importantly, get out to the Northwoods and celebrate the return of the gray wolf to its rightful home in Wisconsin! Despite the best of efforts by their enemies, wolves are here to stay. But their future is in your hands and should not be left to state authorities and judges to decide. The future of successfully recovered wolf populations requires continued vigilance by the citizens of Wisconsin and other states where they have returned. Only you can prevent wolf extinction!

Vermont Considers Ban on Coyote Hunting With Hounds

In January 2021, Senate bill 281 was introduced which would prohibit the use of hounds as a means to hunt coyotes. Hunting coyotes with hounds has grown in the Northeastern part of the United States in pace with the coyotes firm establishment as an apex predator where once wolves and mountain lions also roamed. Both of those species were eradicated from New England in the early 1900’s, but coyotes migrating eastward interbred with both wolves and domestic dogs to create what is now known as the Eastern coyote. Nowadays in Vermont, like most other states, coyotes can be hunted every day of the year with no bag limit. But it’s the use of hounds especially in winter time where most of the cruelty has been witnessed.

S.281 is currently under consideration by the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. On February 24 & 25, 2022 the committee heard testimony related to the bill, which is expected to be voted on the week of March 8.

The lack of fair chase, inherent cruelty resulting from pursuing prey dozens of miles, and the conflict created for private landowners by hound trespass have all been cited as reasons for S.281. The Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee has heard testimony from all sides with many supporters of the bill identifying as hunters themselves, but who consider modern hound hunting practices to be highly unethical. Opponents of the restriction on coyote hunting, say this is just part of a nationwide campaign against all hunting, and that hunting coyotes with hounds is only as cruel as nature is towards other animals and ultimately, the Eastern coyote is a pest that kills deer which hunters want instead for themselves.

Wolf Patrol began an investigation into hound hunting of coyotes with hounds in Vermont and last month released a video with some of our findings. Many hound hunters in Vermont use social media sites to share photos and videos. That is where Wolf Patrol found graphic videos from three Vermont residents depicting coyotes being cornered and killed after long chases across deep snow, where hunters with trucks and snowmobiles bring in more dogs as the chase intensifies. One Vermont hound hunter posted pictures of his hounds attacking a bleeding exhausted coyote and another photo of himself standing over the dead animal in a pool of blood.

A hound belonging to a Wallingford, Vermont hunter over an already wounded coyote.

Wolf Patrol submitted written testimony to the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee, but we wanted to also take a look for ourselves at the growing problem hunting coyotes with hounds has created for Vermont landowners and the public opposed to the cruelty associated with the sport. On February 26th, 2022 I grabbed our cameras and headed to Addison County, where residents have reported multiple conflicts with coyote hunters who trespass and block roads. Since beginning our investigation of coyote hound hunting practices in Vermont, Wolf Patrol has discovered that the practice is quite common in the winter months when no other big game seasons are open.

Many coyote hunters in Vermont use snowmobiles to get their dogs closer to the fleeing coyote and then shoot them, as this Troy, Vermont hunter did on January 30, 2022.

I was just outside of Shoreham, Vermont, less than a mile from the Lake Champlain shoreline when I came over a hill and saw a hound truck parked in the same direction but on the left side of the narrow dirt road. As I slowed down, a hound wearing a GPS collar popped out of the woods to my right which was clearly posted closed to hunting and trespass. The hound ran past his owner’s truck and back onto posted lands, alongside a clear track left by a coyote fleeing the hound.

Coyote pursued by hunting hound in Northern Vermont.

Over the next hour, multiple trucks some with hounds were jockeying alongside the roads trying to place themselves in line for a shot, once the pursued coyote crossed the road the hunter’s were watching from their trucks. The antennas from their handheld GPS receivers could be seen in their hands and the hound hunter I spoke too, had his uncased rifle snugly tucked next to his right leg inside the cab of his truck where he could access it quickly. This was the same hounder I filmed standing in the road with his scoped rifle who later retrieved his hound that had come out of the woods where I had seen it cross earlier that morning.

A photo shared on the private Facebook page: Northeast Hunting with Hounds, February 26, 2022.

As I drove past the hound hunter with the rifle, he slowed down and raised his hand like he wanted to talk, so I pulled over and he reversed until he was in line with my driver’s side window. He asked if I was filming, and I acknowledged that I was and explained to him the reasons for documenting his hound hunting activities were in support of S.281. We ended our conversation with the hunter saying he could later show me some dead coyotes, but I didn’t encounter him again that day.

February 26, 2022 Facebook post with comment by Vermont hounder.

S. 281 would prohibit the use of hounds to hunt coyotes, with a proposed amendment authorizing state game wardens to issue one-time only depredation permits where hounds could be used to hunt coyotes that pose a threat to life or property on private lands. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is also proposing stricter conditions and a regulated season on hunting coyotes with hounds, but that does not address the inherent cruelty associated with a sport that allows hunters to use multiple vehicles, GPS-collared packs of hounds, snowmobiles and bait to pursue one animal sometimes for dozens of miles until they can run no longer.

Please write to Vermont’s Natural Resources and Energy Committee today to let them know that you support an outright ban on recreational hunting of coyotes with hounds, which looks more like dog-fighting than hunting. This bill will be voted on in committee the week of March 8th, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes law. Let’s remain vigilant and stand with the coyotes until they are safe from dog hunters in Vermont!

NATURAL RESOURCES & ENERGY COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Senator Chris Bray cbray@leg.state.vt.us (802) 453-3444

Senator Rich Westman rawestman@gmail.com (802) 644-2297

Senator Mark MacDonald mmacdonald@leg.state.vt.us (802) 272-1101

Senator Brian Campion bcampion@leg.state.vt.us (802) 375-4376

Senator Richard McCormack rmccormack@leg.state.vt.us (802) 793-6417

Senator Becca Balint bbalint@leg.state.vt.us (802) 257-4162

Vermont’s Legalized Dog Fighting Exposed

Every winter, hound hunters across America turn their dogs loose to chase, torment and fight other dogs. Make no mistake, just because their prey are coyotes, doesn’t change the fact that it is still a form of legalized dog-fighting. Whether in Vermont (as this video depicts) or Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Ohio or any of the dozens of other states where this horrendous practice is happening right now, hunting coyotes with hounds is a cruel practice that no ethical sportsman or human being should support.

Terance Wilbur of Willington, Vermont shared this picture on Facebook on January 16, 2022

These aren’t animals being killed to feed families, they are being killed for the simple pleasure hound hunters derive from watching their dogs run down other dogs. At best, some of the coyotes will have their pelts taken and sold on the international fur market where they often end up as fur trim on the hoods of parkas and other winter clothing. At worst, they are simply left to rot.

Wilbur celebrating another death near a pool of coyote blood, January 16, 2022

Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department, as well as any state wildlife agency should be ashamed to allow this practice today. Hunting coyotes with hounds is a clear violation of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which states that wildlife is for the explicit non-commercial use of citizens. It is also a wanton waste of wildlife that every humane citizen should oppose.

Coyotes suffer persecution with a year-round open season in most states.

Yet every winter, social media is flooded with videos such as these, shared by the hound hunters themselves, depicting unspeakable cruelty against public trust wildlife. Wolf Patrol monitors hound hunters across America and we see it as our responsibility to expose these crimes against natures so you can speak out against them.

Please contact not only Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Board, but your own state wildlife agency, to politely ask that hunting coyotes with hounds be outlawed before more animals suffer a horrific death at the jaws of other canines. And contact your own state wildlife agency to see if this practice is allowed in your own home state (it probably is.)

Vermont hounder Jake Potter in 2021.

You can email Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Board at:

fwinformation@vermont.gov

Action Needed Now to Protest Upcoming Great Lakes Predator Challenge Killing Contest

Video from the 2020 Great Lakes Predator Challenge

Every winter across Michigan, Wisconsin and dozens of other states, contests are held with cash and prizes awarded to the teams that kill the most coyotes, foxes and other wildlife. These wildlife killing contests are perfectly legal, even though they encourage the wanton waste of wildlife, not to mention the targeting and cruel eradication of native predators not responsible for any predations on livestock or other domestic animals.

2020 Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Coyote killing contests target all coyotes, not just those accused of conflicts with farmers and other human activities. With the incentive to kill as many predators as possible, wildlife killing contests such as the Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge disrupt the balance of a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife killing contests actual increase the likelihood of livestock predation by killing of coyotes and foxes that are currently posing no threat at all to humans. Such contests actually trigger animals like coyotes leading to larger litter sizes to fill the empty niches left behind after the senseless removal of native predators.

Losers, not winners in the 2022 Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge.

Make no mistake, whether in Wisconsin, Michigan or any of the other dozens of states that allow coyote killing contests, these competitions are simply bloodsports that reward killers for their wanton waste of wildlife with cash and prizes. No ethical citizen or hunter should support the killing of public trust wildlife for fun and money.

January 17, 2022: Coyote killed for fun and prizes at the Predator Games contest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Wolf Patrol is calling on everyone, not only Michigan citizens to join in the call for the sponsors of the Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge to pull their support or face a boycott of their Kalamazoo businesses. We are also asking concerned citizens to write, call or email Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission and ask that wildlife killing contests be ended because they area disruption to the balance of our environment and a wanton waste of wildlife.

Ask Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission to end wildlife killing contests today!
NRC@michigan.gov

Phone: 517-599-1067

Another Michigan wildlife killing contest in 2020.

      January 20, 2022 Kalamazoo Animal Advocates Press Release-

Animal Advocates Call For Wildlife Killing Challenge To Be Cancelled

      Kalamazoo Animal Advocates (KAA) is calling for Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge host, D & R Sports Center, Inc., Kalamazoo, to cancel its 8th annual event now and forever. It is scheduled for Friday, January 28-Sunday, the 30th. Steensma Lawn and Power Equipment, a co-sponsor, is also being called on to pull its sponsorship. 

      In addition, KAA is calling for a Boycott of these businesses until they are no longer sponsors. “This trophy hunt of our wild native animals is intended to kill animals across the state of Michigan in exchange for cash and prizes. It will be a massacre just like in 2020 when 195 foxes and coyotes were killed,” states KAA. Prizes will be awarded based on the team who kills the most animals. This is one of many Wildlife Killing Contests in Michigan.

     In June, 2021, Kalamazoo County passed a Proclamation in opposition to wildlife killing contests and forwarded it to State policy makers asking for a ban. It says in part that carnivores such as coyotes, foxes and bobcats, are an integral part of Michigan’s ecosystem and play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity. These contests serve no legitimate wildlife management purpose and children are encouraged to participate.

     “This contest promotes the wanton destruction of life for money and teaches children the same, while it directly ignores the Proclamation that local citizens worked hard to pass with commissioners who spent considerable time in discussion,” states KAA. 

     There is a state-wide movement among animal advocates to ban these contests. The Anishinaabek Caucus, as part of their work to promote the interests and concerns of the Anishinaabek people, affirms that:

“among tribal people committed to the continued renaissance of our traditional cultural and spiritual teachings, there is a deep sense of kinship with these animals. The key role predators have in the balance of functional ecosystems deserves respect, and their devotion to pack and family reflects our own.  Whether we treat them with callousness or with love is a measure of our own humanity.”

January 17, 2022: Predator Games killing contest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

CALL OUT / CALL-IN PROTEST

8th Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge starting in Kalamazoo, Fri. Jan. 28-Sun. 30 www.glrpredatorchallenge.com

WHEN to call: Fri., 1/21 – Friday, 1/28, 10AM-4PM

WHO to CALL: 1. D&R Sports Center, Kalamazoo, event host: 269-372-2277 -Ask for a manager or owner. -Politely say that you strongly oppose their ongoing involvement and sponsorship of this horrific wildlife killing contest. Ask them to cancel this Challenge now and forever. Say that you support the Boycott of their business. (Add in your own polite reasons/comments you oppose).

dandrsports.com

2. Steensma Lawn and Power Equipment, Kalamazoo, co-sponsor 269-375-6476 -Ask for a manager or owner. -Politely say that you strongly oppose their sponsorship of the Challenge. Ask them to pull their sponsorship now and forever; plus, say that you support the Boycott of their business. (Add in your own reasons and comments please).

steensmalawn.com

Background info: This trophy hunt massacre of our beautiful wild animals will happen far and wide in MI. Cash prizes are awarded based on who kills the most animals. In 2020, 195 coyotes and foxes were killed. It is the 8th Annual and back after 2021 in full force. It is one of several of these event types in MI, including one in Galesburg. -It directly ignores the June, 2021 non-binding Kalamazoo County Proclamation strongly opposing hunts like this that activists worked hard to get passed.

Michigan Hound Hunters Calling For Second Extermination of Wolves

On January 12, 2022, Michigan hound hunter, Jordan Farmer was chasing bobcats on public lands, when one of his dogs was killed by wolves and another injured. Now he and other hound hunters are calling for wolves to be eliminated from their rightful place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan again, so he and other hunters can “safely” pursue and kill bobcats, bears and other native wildlife.

The gray wolf was not reintroduced into Michigan as many hounders claim, but successfully recovered after centuries of persecution by men just like Farmer. Hound hunters including Farmer maintain that wolves were eradicated for a reason…so recreational hunters can run packs of hounds after native wildlife for the sake of killing for fun. Make no mistake, these “hunters” are not killing for food, but for sport and money. While no hound hunter including Farmer eat the bobcats they kill, they do sell their fur on the commercial market where a bobcat pelt can fetch as much as $350.

01/14/22 Jordan Farmer Facebook post.

Since the 01/12/22 depredation of Farmer’s hunting hound, many hound hunters are now calling for the poisoning, shooting and illegal killing of wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin. Hound hunters are also demanding that the state of Michigan and Wisconsin to return to a recreational hunt for wolves so their bloodsport can continue unabated, despite an overwhelming majority of citizen’s saying they are against wolf hunting.

It is imperative that supporters of wolf recovery counter the ocean of misinformation that “sportsmen” are spreading about wolves in their selfish agenda that would once again eradicate wolves from the Michigan landscape. Most of the propaganda being spread by anti-wolf interests center on the impact wolves have on their primary natural prey in the Upper Peninsula, whitetail deer. Hound hunters advocate for a return to “a sportsman’s paradise” where the only predator allowed to kill deer are humans.

Upper Peninsula “sportsmen” want wolves eradicated so they can, “have a drink and sandwich with your family and watch the deer.”

Gray wolves in Michigan account for a small fraction of the deer killed in Michigan, with auto collisions and hunters taking the overwhelming majority. Over 420,000 deer were killed by hunters in 2020 and according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, the state saw 51,103 vehicle-deer collisions in 2020. According to the MDNR’s website, wolves play a small role in deer mortality. Biologists estimate the Upper Peninsula deer population at 270,000. Wolves kill 17,000 to 29,000 deer. An estimated 687 gray wolves live in the Upper Peninsula, according to the DNR’s website.

Jordan Farmer and a relative (misinformed) position on wolves.

Wolf Patrol is calling on all people to register their comments to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) before January 31th, 2022 while public comments on wolf management are welcomed. Please state that native wildlife such as gray wolves, not hunting hounds have a right to exist free from harm and harassment as well as threats of poisoning and illegal poaching which is being advocated by the hound hunters themselves.

Jordan Farmer and his hounds with another dead Michigan bobcat, February 2019.

Click the link below to submit your comments on Michigan’s Wolf Management Plan

before January 31, 2022

https://bit.ly/3A6M3qS

Wolf Patrol Remains Vigilant Despite Injunction Blocking November 6th Wisconsin Wolf Hunt

Some good news for a change! On October 22, Dane County Circuit Judge Jacob Frost issued a temporary injunction halting the Wisconsin Wolf hunt, which was set to begin Nov. 6. The order comes as part of a lawsuit that a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups filed to stop the hunt and invalidate a state law authorizing annual seasons. The injunction means there will not be a wolf hunt until the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) follows the necessary rule making procedures. The judge said the injunction will remain in place until WIDNR implements updated regulations on determining quotas and the number of licenses it issues, and updates its wolf-management plan with new wolf-population goals for the state.

While attorneys for the advocacy groups say this ruling could stop any wolf hunt from happening this year, Wolf Patrol knows there’s still four months in Wisconsin’s legislated wolf hunt (Nov. 6-Feb. 28) and that if the DNR satisfies the judge’s order, a wolf hunt before the end of February 2022 could still be possible. Another late season wolf hunt in Wisconsin such as the one this past February, could do much more damage to Wisconsin’s recovering wolf population than an early season hunt that prohibits the use of hounds.

WIDNR has yet to modify their website or notify potential license holders since the October 22, 2021 Dane County Court ruling.

Last February’s wolf hunt was a disaster orchestrated by the still seated rogue Natural Resources Board, which it is now known was influenced heavily by the Kansas-based lobbyist, Hunter Nation. Together they forced WIDNR to implement a wolf hunt on very short notice and Wolf Patrol believes these forces again will be pushing back hard for another such wolf hunt this winter. 

Wolf Patrol is especially on guard for another short notice wolf hunt, because any wolf hunt that begins after November 29th, would again include the use of hounds, thereby making it a certainty that any quota would again be grossly exceeded. State law prohibits hound hunting of wolves until the end of firearms deer season.

During Wisconsin’s late November firearms deer season, many wolves are traditionally killed illegally and this year it is expected many more will be targeted as anti-wolf forces take out their frustrations with the Dane County Court’s ruling. If you or anyone you know is aware of an illegal wolf killing in Wisconsin, Wolf Patrol will pay $1,000 for information leading to charges being filed. You can remain anonymous. This reward program is separate from our standing $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the two-year wolf poisoning campaign in northern Wisconsin.