Don’t ever believe wolves are protected just because a lawyer or judge said so. In Wisconsin, bear hunting practices such as baiting and hounding (most of it on public lands) has created a major conflict with wolves. Not only are bear hunting hounds routinely invading rendezvous areas and den sites and fighting to the death, but these dogs’ owners also have a vendetta against wolves, even though they are paid up to $2,500.00 for their loss from the state’s Endangered Species Fund.
Since gray wolves were returned to federal protection in December 2014, Wolf Patrol has documented a rise in online threats against wolves. We also uncovered three illegal baiting sites intended for wolves and other predators, last winter on the eve of an organized hound hunt for coyotes in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. And now with 25 bear hunting hounds dead from wolves during this year’s two-month training season, we believe the wolves of northern Wisconsin are facing as great a threat as they did when they were legally hunted.
Since Wolf Patrol began documenting bear baiting and hound hunting practices in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the Summer of 2015, we’ve uncovered legal practices that researchers say are contributing to violent encounters between wolves and hunting dogs. An early bear hound training season when wolves are most active, the annual dumping of millions of gallons of grease and food waste in wolf territory, dozens of active bear baits in the areas where bear hounds have been killed, as many unregistered bait sites as a hunter can handle, these are all human behaviors that we believe are putting wolves and humans at risk.
Wolf Patrol believes that the DNR needs to impose more restrictions, such as prohibiting bear hound training in Wolf Caution Areas and restricting the dumping of food for bears on national forest lands. Yet, whenever I have a conversation with bear hunters about wolves, it always ends with the attitude that, if wolves cannot be hunted, we will take matters into our own hands. Never has there been the attitude that maybe their behavior in the national forests and other public lands needs to be cleaned up. Instead they lobbied for a law that would make documenting their bear baiting and hound hunting activities illegal.
Last winter, at the DNR’s Wolf & Bear Advisory Council meeting, I heard mention that during the state’s three wolf hunting seasons, bear hunters who also trapped, were pooling their wolf tags, and going after entire packs that had killed their hounds. Whether this is happening anyhow, is a good question (considering that’s what some of these guys are saying on Facebook right now) but this is what Adam Jarchow, Tom Tiffany and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association want to be legal again.
If you don’t believe me, go to the Great Lakes Wolf Plummet, oops, I mean Summit to hear it for yourself, or better yet, join Wolf Patrol, and come visit the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest yourself on September 15, and see for yourself how these bear hunters want to manage gray wolves and our public lands.
Oh, and in case you were wondering if anyone from of any of ALL the Great Lakes tribes that are against wolf hunting were invited to speak at the conference…