Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s Response to Questions about Harassing Federally Protected Wolves

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WBHA member in July 2017 Wolf Caution Area.

The following statement was sent by Carl Schoettel, president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, in response to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s questions about bear hunting with dogs, the number of dogs killed by wolves, Wisconsin’s program to compensate hunters for dogs killed by wolves, and what can be done to ease the conflict between wolves and bear hunters. For the August 11, 2017 published news article: http://www.startribune.com/a-wisconsin-tradition-hunting-bears-with-dogs-comes-under-attack-by-wolf-advocates/439739523/

(PEER is the Professional Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a
national watch dog group that is pushing for an investigation into hunters who it alleges illegally harass wolves in Wisconsin.)

FROM WHBA PRESIDENT’S DESK:

First, nobody refers to our way of hunting as “hounding.’’ It is hunting with the aid of dogs. Since the dawn of time, people have hunted with the aid of dogs. Ours are pursuit
dogs, which chase the prey with the aim of putting the bear in a position to be harvested, not to actually engage with the prey.

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Minnesota resident training bear hounds without any license in 2016 Wolf Caution Area.

It is like bike riding or hunting deer or any other activity — we as free people get to choose what we like to do. It also is a form of hunting that is very easy to involve your family and young people. Bear hunting traditions are no different than traditions of hunting that others participate in — other than our sport is even more family-friendly than most hunting pastimes; it is the norm that you see entire families with children from 1 through 25 out participating in the sport. PEER understands that and has targeted us because their ultimate radical agenda is to eliminate all hunting.

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Hounders riding bikes, uh, I mean training their dogs in our national forest.

There are no science based facts available that any biologist from Wisconsin can state that the elimination of class B [hunting dog training license] has indeed increased the
conflicts. Don’t forget, the amount of depredations for agriculture has gone up and nobody is making the excuse it was because of the elimination of Class B license.

2017 Wisconsin wolf depredations (to date): https://dnrx.wisconsin.gov/wdacp/public/depredation/2017

2016 Wisconsin wolf depredations: https://dnrx.wisconsin.gov/wdacp/public/depredation/2016

It is also absurd to say that there is an expansion of access to public land; instead there has been a significant contraction. Many of the state’s private timber leases expired in the recent past and the majority of that land is up for sale or is sold in small 40 acre or more parcels. At the least, this is tens of thousands of acres of land that we cannot hunt
on. Road maintenance expenses are an area that counties are cutting, which also reduces the amount of land to hunt on.

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WBHA hunting party struggling with the loss of public lands accessible with their trucks and dogs.

And last, if you see how they count wolves in this state only a fool would agree that the population is the same as 2012. There are many more wolves, period. Also, as the wolves have now devastated the deer population in Northern Wisconsin, they have become more aggressive in their search for food and thus more likely to target our dogs.

Wisconsin DNR 2016 gray wolf monitoring report describing tracking methods: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Wildlifehabitat/wolf/documents/Wolfreport2016.pdf

As I stated before, with freedom you also have the freedom to make bad choices. And to hunt in the exact same place that your hunting dogs got killed and eaten is your choice. But I know the vast majority of hunters do not. I will say that there is not an area in the northern half and some of the south central part of the state that does not have wolf packs — you can view this on the Wisconsin DNR web page.

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“Protect Bear Hunters’ Freedom to Make Bad Decisions”-new WBHA motto.

Back when the management number was 350, which is the number at which wolves were de-listed, there was a lot less conflict. There was a much better balance where all parties are concerned. To state that people knowingly are doing this to make money [from Wisconsin’s compensation program] is also absurd coming from people who have no idea what it costs to raise feed and maintain a good hunting dog; it is a fraction of what the loss is, plus the emotional cost to your children’s hunting dogs and yours also. It also is kind of like hunting and worrying that your dog might get hit by a car- there is no place to hunt in this state that does not have roads where we bear hunt, and there is no place to bear hunt in this state that there are no wolves.

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WBHA member struggling with the emotional loss of his bear hound on Facebook.

This is not a hunter vs. wolves issue; farmers and other landowners also suffer wolf predation. It is an out of touch judiciary and groups like PEER, which is not from our state, telling us how to manage our wildlife. The people who know best how to do this, Wisconsin Hunters, Farmers, Landowners, Taxpayers and Wisconsin DNR all agree with the US Fish and Wildlife biologists who for a decade have concluded that the gray wolf has recovered and is no longer in need of protection and should be managed per the DNR state management plan. With proper management we are 100% sure that depredations will be greatly reduced if not essentially eliminated.

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Wisconsin hounder/participant in the DNR endorsed 2012 “proper management” of wolves.

Thank you.
Carl Schoettel
President
Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association
Neosho WI 53059
Phone: (414) 531 2296
E-mail cschoettel@discoveryworld.org

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