Today, Wolf Patrol continued to monitor bear baits less than the required distance from public roads and highways in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest of northern Wisconsin. Last month, we reported two of these sites to DNR wardens, but the sites remain intact. Wisconsin law dictates that bear baits be at least 50 yards from public roads, and a 100 yards from roads posted 45mph or more, such as is the case with one bait in question.
Yesterday, we spoke with the DNR’s supervising conservation officer for northern Wisconsin who assured us that he would be looking into the complaint, as well as assuring Wolf Patrol that we had the legal right to occupy a bear bait site where two of our trail cameras were stolen this week. Wolf Patrol has requested assistance from DNR conservation officers to reclaim the bait site in question, which we have been informed we have a legal right to occupy for our research purposes.
All bear baits recorded in this film are in Forest County and within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. These baits are also overlapping the territory of at least two known wolf packs. Each year, bear hounds are killed by wolves when released near bear baits that wolves also recognize as feeding sites.
In Wisconsin, anyone can bait for bears, with no license required, as long as the baits are used for hunting and not recreational purposes. An estimated 5 million gallons of human food waste, fryer grease and other unhealthy bait material is dumped with the intention of feeding bears in Wisconsin. There is also no limit to the number of bear baits an individual can operate on public and national forest lands in Wisconsin.
Throughout Wisconsin’s two-month bear hound training, and 7-month baiting season, Wolf Patrol monitors will be recording gray wolf and other wildlife activity at bear baiting sites in known wolf territory. Our research will be used to lobby DNR and US Forest Service officials for greater oversight and regulation of bear hunting practices in federally protected gray wolf habitat.