Last year, more bear hounds were killed by wolves than in any year previous. 41 dogs died, and an unknown number of wolves killed or injured, all because bear hunters in Wisconsin care not that they are placing their dogs in mortal danger. They do this because they care more about the bears they want to kill than the lives of their hard-working dogs.
In every designated Wolf Caution Area we have investigated, where the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has warned hound hunters of the dangers posed to their animals, Wolf Patrol has documented the continued use of both bear baits and hounds. At the Sept. 7, 2017 depredation site, where wolves killed a bear hound earlier this week, Wolf Patrol encountered a large bear hunting party still running their dogs in the Wolf Caution Area.
The four-vehicle hunting party were running their dogs less than a mile from where a hound was killed just two days previous. While monitoring hound hunter radio communications, we heard one hounder say to another, after learning that that hounder’s dogs had treed a bear, “I could stop and shoot that bear for you, if you want.” Such statements reveal the bad judgement the state of Wisconsin made when they removed the license requirement for members of bear hunting parties who run dogs and bait, but do not have a license to actually kill a bear.
The “Class B” license requirement was removed two years ago, after the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) lobbied the state, arguing that other hunters that use dogs, such as waterfowlers and grouse hunters do not require a license to train their dogs, so why should bear hunters? I’ll give you one reason why, because when bear hunters bait and train their dogs, dozens are killed by wolves as they roam freely through summer wolf territory.
According to the WDNR press release announcing the rule change two years ago:
“Both residents and non-residents may now participate in the following: bear baiting, hunting and training activities without a Class B bear license if those activities are permitted and in compliance with applicable regulations:
- bait bears for hunting purposes (recreationally feeding bears remains illegal);
- train dogs to track bears;
- act as a back-up shooter; and
- assist hunters with pursuing bears, provided that a person does not shoot, shoot at, capture, take, or kill the bear (unless acting as a back-up shooter).
The removal of the Class B license requirement has also left the barn door open for non-residents who wish to travel to Wisconsin to not only train their hounds and bait for bear, but also kill a bear, even if they have no hunting license. There is no way for conservation officers to determine whether it actually was the bear tag holder who shot a bear, and bear hunters in Wisconsin know this, which is why we overheard this particular Sawyer County hound hunter offering to kill the bear in question.
If you agree that these reckless practices need to end in our national forests, please send your comment to forest officials at: