Wisconsin Representative Adam Jarchow has chosen Wolf Awareness Week
to introduce the unconstitutional ‘Right To Hunt Act’, which would
criminalize the use of cameras or driving on public roads if a hunter feels that they are being harassed. Jarchow has targeted Wolf Patrol as the reason behind proposing this tightening of existing hunter harassment laws in Wisconsin, citing our recent citizen-monitoring of bear baiting season in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Adam Jarchow’s ‘Right To Hunt Act’ media release can be found here:
Listen to / read the NPR transcript: “New Bill Would Prevent Harassment Of Wisconsin’s Hunters”
A year ago today, the organization, Great Lakes Wolf Patrol launched its campaign to witness, document and monitor the recreational trapping and hunting of gray wolves in northern Wisconsin. Our October 2014 documentation of a trap set for wolves, led to a DNR investigation that confirmed that the trap was left in the ground beyond the close of the season. The trapper was issued a verbal warning. In December 2015, Wolf Patrol documented this country’s only hound hunt for wolves, which was in Wisconsin. Our monitoring of the hound hunt for wolves was instrumental in the DNR’s decision to close the hunt in Zone 3 before the statewide quota of 150 wolves could be exceeded.
In July 2015, following the publishing of the scientific paper, “Bear-Baiting May Exacerbate Wolf-Hunting Dog Conflict” (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061708) Wolf Patrol began to document Wisconsin’s bear hunting practices, specifically, bear baiting and hound hunting. Since July, sixteen bear hunting hounds have been killed by wolves while being trained or hunting black bear in areas with an unlimited number of bear baits and in known wolf territory.
The number one source of conflict between wolves and humans in Wisconsin is the state’s liberal bear baiting and hound hunting practices. Wolf Patrol’s investigation of two DNR declared Wolf Caution Areas in Bayfield County where seven bear hounds have been killed in the last two month’s, revealed 29 bear baits inside of one Wolf Caution Area. This evidence reinforces the scientific finding that in Wisconsin, gray wolves are becoming habituated to feeding from bear bait sites and thus defending them from free-roaming hunting dogs.
This evidence is being used to solicit public comments to the US Forest Service who are inviting public participation in the management of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where bear baiting and hound hunting is prolific.
Since it’s inception, Wolf Patrol has fostered open communication with both the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Wisconsin’s hound hunters, bear baiters and wolf trappers. Wolf Patrol’s Facebook site welcomes and allows debate from all stakeholders in the wolf debate. DNR law enforcement have always been informed when Wolf Patrol is carrying out it’s monitoring of activities that threaten and harm federally protected gray wolves in the state, and our investigations have led to numerous DNR investigations of suspected illegal hunting activity.
By introducing the Right to Hunt Act, Representative Adam Jarchow is advocating for the criminalization of the above-mentioned constitutionally protected activities. While some public agencies respond to citizen complaints with greater openness, Rep. Jarchow is asking for prison time for citizen’s who want to peacefully document unethical hunting practices on public lands. Wolf Patrol is not an anti-hunting organization. We support the ethical and respectful taking of deer and other animals which provide a source of food to many Wisconsin families.
The documentation of bear baiting practices within Rep. Jarchow’s district this past July led to Wolf Patrol’s documentation crew being detained by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. We were informed that our activities were in violation of the state’s hunter harassment law which specifically states, “(3m) Affirmative defense. It is an affirmative defense to the prosecution for violation of this section if the defendant’s conduct is protected by his or her right to freedom of speech under the constitution of this state or of the United States.” To this date, no Wolf Patrol member has ever been charged with a crime while carrying out its activities.
Wolf Patrol’s founder, Rod Coronado concludes, “By introducing the Right to Hunt Act, Rep. Jarchow is asking that the constitutional rights of those opposed to bear baiting and hound hunting be illegally restricted. If the law is passed, Wolf Patrol will continue its monitoring of bear hunting and any other activity that threatens wolves and challenge this unconstitutional law in the courts.”
To celebrate 2015’s Wolf Awareness Week, Wolf Patrol is announcing the launching of a campaign to monitor Wisconsin’s coyote and bobcat trapping season which begins on October 17th. Last year, eight gray wolves were reported incidentally trapped in coyote or bobcat foothold traps. Our monitoring effort is intended to ensure that such captures are reported to the DNR and the wolves released. Wolf Patrol members will also be alerting grouse hunters to the danger posed to their hunting dogs by hidden coyote and bobcat traps which can be legally placed on trails and the shoulders of public roads.