The conflict between bear hunters and wolves in Wisconsin is just warming up, as more hounds are killed during the bear hound training season. To date, three dogs have been killed by wolves and one injured, since training began on July 1st. Wolf Patrol says bear hunters are to blame, for running dogs through Summer wolf rendezvous areas, where wolves have been known to kill trespassing bear hounds before.
In the Wolf Caution Area (WCA) designated on July 18, 2017 in Ashland County, following a wolf depredation on a bear hound in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, members of Wolf Patrol surveying the public forest roads surrounding the WCA found three bear baits, including two which were 30 yards from the road.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations on baiting require a minimum of fifty yards from forest roads. The baits were reported to DNR, but what they illustrate is an inability amongst bear hunters to follow even the most simple restrictions on bear baiting in our national forest, let alone in areas where wolves have killed bear hounds.
Bear hunters use baited locations to condition bears to being fed from permanent sites, from where they can loose their dogs on the bears scent trail after visiting those bait sites. These baits also attract deer and other wildlife including wolves who can claim the bait sites as feeding areas of their own, meaning any bear hounds following bears from those bait sites, stand a much greater chance of being killed by nearby wolves protecting their families.
In Wisconsin, anyone can bait for bears without a license, as long as the purpose of the baiting is for hunting. Otherwise, bear baiters have no limits on the number of baits they may use, only that they can’t use more than 10 gallons of bait at any one time.
Bear baiting alone has become a major problem in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where researchers have studied the practice. In a recent article in The Journal of Wildlife Management, those researchers found that 40% of a black bear’s diet (in the part of the CNNF where they conducted their study) was composed of food waste used as bear bait.
Wisconsin has the longest bear baiting season in the nation, beginning in April, just as bears are emerging from hibernation, to October when bear hunting season ends.
If you agree that its time to end bear baiting and hound training in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, please send an email now to forest officials at: