On September 7th & 8th, 2017, on just the second and third day of this nation’s largest black bear hunt, Wisconsin’s hound hunters were again responsible for their dogs being killed by wolves. The first depredation occurred in Sawyer County, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where Wolf Patrol is documenting the reckless running of bear hounds in wolf rendezvous areas.
The second bear hound/wolf fight occurred, in Burnett County just south of the St. Croix River, approximately 5 miles from where three more bear hounds have been killed so far this year. In both locations, despite Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), bear hunters continue to loose their hounds in areas where they know there is a likelihood that they will be killed by wolves. Many hound hunters say their dogs are like family members, but I have yet to meet anyone who would let their family members wonder into a known potentially deadly situation.
At the Sawyer County depredation site, we found multiple active bear baits in the middle of an active wolf rendezvous site. In every single bear hound depredation site Wolf Patrol has visited over the last three years, we have documented continued bear baiting and hound running, even though the WDNR warns against it. The Sawyer County location was no different. As we turned West out of Park Falls, headed to the site, we saw a hound truck turning onto the same road where the killing occurred. When we reached the immediate area, we found four more bear hunter vehicles parked and waiting, as other hunters refilled bear baits.
The practice of running hounds from bear baits is a recipe for disaster, for wolves and bear hounds, but also its a lucrative way for hounders to make a couple thousand dollars through Wisconsin’s compensation fund for wolf-caused depredations. Last year, more bear hounds were killed by wolves (41) than in any year previous. 28 of these wolf/dog fights occurred in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF), where the practice of running dogs through wolf territory begins in July and runs three-and-a-half months, until bear season ends in October.
It’s time to end the practices of bear baiting and hound running through known wolf rendezvous area in our national forests. If you agree, please email forest officials at: