Two years ago, the requirement of a “B” license to bait and chase bears in Wisconsin was eliminated at the request of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. This means that anyone can now come into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) and other public lands, and dump thousands of gallons of food waste to attract bears, and then release any number of dogs to chase them. All in the Summer months, when bears and other wildlife should be storing energy for the long winter months.
This video shows only one bear hunting party operating the CNNF, yet today alone we documented at least three hunting parties in our small research area carrying out the same practices. A recent study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management and conducted by the Wisconsin DNR & University of Wisconsin researchers concluded that in their study area, also in the CNNF, bear bait comprises 40% of a black bears diet, and the artificially high caloric diet is actually increasing fertility and creating artificial dependence on human feeding.
From The National Park Service’s web page for Sleeping Bear Dunes in the neighboring state of Michigan:
“A single taste of human food or trash is enough to turn a wild bear into a food-conditioned bear… Sadly, bears that obtain human food may lose their natural fear of humans. Over time, they may become bold or aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food and become a threat to public safety. When this happens, the bear pays the ultimate price–it is destroyed.”
Minimally regulated bear baiting and hound training in Wisconsin is a ecological disaster, and means an increased possibility of bear conflicts with humans. Although the practices serve a small vocal minority of bear hunters with powerful political lobbyist paid for by the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the practice needs to end in our national forest lands.
The only people benefiting from these practices are bear hunters. In a recent DNR survey of bear hunters, over 93% hunted with the aid of bait and/or dogs. If you agree that the practice of feeding bears and allowing hunters to train their dogs to chase them in Summer months needs to end in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, please send your comment to forest officials at:
If you’d like to read the recent study on bear baiting in the CNNF: