Hunting with hounds in Wisconsin is a year-round sport for many of the hunters Wolf Patrol has featured this month, and not only for coyotes. While it is common and legal to hunt black bear, bobcat, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and rabbits with multiple dogs, some Wisconsin hunters approach the sport a different way, a very illegal way, using bull terriers and Patterdale’s to not just pursue wildlife, but capture and kill it as well.
We feature the videos and photos of two such hounders, Jason Armbruster of Amery, Wisconsin and Steve Ritter of Rockford, Illinois. In Illinois, it is legal for hunting dogs to “dispatch” or kill legal prey like raccoons and opossums. In Wisconsin, it is not legal for dogs to kill their prey. Armbruster is a Wisconsin resident who was reported to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) after he posted photos on his Facebook page of three of his dogs mauling live raccoons. Wolf Patrol called the WDNR’s Violation Hotline on March 10, 2018 because Armbruster was looking for homes for three of his hunting dogs that had been trained to kill raccoons and possibly other wildlife.
On March 15, Wolf Patrol was informed by WDNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller that animal cruelty charges were pending in Polk County against Jason Armbruster, and that the criminal investigation into his hunting and training with dogs was now being handled by the Polk County District Attorney’s office. Armbruster was charged on March 13, 2018 with ten counts of Mistreatment of Animals/Cause of Death and for Instigation of Animal fights, all Class One felonies. Armbruster has an initial court appearance scheduled for April 16, 2018 for the charges which stem from incidents that occurred from May until October of 2017, when many of the photos on his Facebook page were first published.
Armbruster’s own evidence on Facebook tells the story of his dog training which includes the use of live-trapped raccoons. In Wisconsin, it is legal to capture wildlife like raccoons, rabbits, fox, coyote and even black bear for the sole purpose of training hunting dogs. Armbruster’s Facebook page includes photos of live-traps he uses to capture raccoons for his illegal training purposes.
It isn’t legal to allow your hunting dogs to maul live animals, such as depicted in Armbruster’s Facebook photos, but it occurs often, anywhere dogs are trained to pursue raccoons. Steve Ritter’s Facebook page includes multiple videos of his dog’s mauling and killing raccoons and opossums, which is legal in Indiana, but not Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, live raccoons are supposed to be placed in “roll cages” or other cages that allow them to be separated from actual contact with the dog being trained.
Wolf Patrol does not support the use of live animals for training purposes, or the use of hunting dogs to maul or kill wildlife, in Wisconsin, Illinois or anywhere, legal or not. Such bloodthirsty hunting dogs pose a risk not only to public trust wildlife, but to human safety as well. Can you imagine what might happen to your young child or companion animal if while out for a walk in the Wisconsin’s woods, you came across a dog trained to kill raccoons and other wildlife?
Wolf Patrol hopes Jason Armbruster will lose his hunting privileges, not only in Wisconsin, but in Illinois and other states which are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact, which prevents hunting violators from continuing to hunt legally in another state while their privileges are suspended in their home state. Only through the rigorous enforcement of the Wildlife Violator Compact can Wisconsin’s illegal hunters be prevented from committing wildlife crimes in other states.
JASON ARMBRUSTER CRIMINAL COMPLAINT: