On July 29th, 2018, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources reported the eighth incident where wolves injured or killed a hunting hound since bear hound training season began on July 1st. So far in 2018, there have been ten violent encounters between federally protected gray wolves and free-roaming hunting hounds, resulting in at least 11 dogs being injured and four killed.
Once a fight between wolves and bear hounds has been reported and verified by federal USDA Wildlife Services officers, the WDNR will designate a four-mile radius around the location as a Wolf Caution Area. Unfortunately, many hound hunters will continue to run their dogs in these areas, leading to repeat attacks in the very same Wolf Caution Areas.
Since 2015, Wolf Patrol’s investigations into bear hunting practices in known Wolf Caution Areas has repeatedly discovered high densities of bear baiting sites wherever depredations have occurred. A number of scientific studies have concluded that wolves are attracted to bear baits, because deer and other prey will often feed from the sites as well, leading the wolves to identify bear baits as hunting areas worth defending from intruding bear hounds.
Also, Wolf Patrol’s field investigations over the last four years have revealed that many Wolf Caution Areas are established after bear hounds have trespassed wolf rendezvous sites where young pups are more vulnerable. WDNR advises hound hunters to use caution in Wolf Caution Areas, but bear baiting and hound training is still allowed to continue. Resident and non-resident unlicensed hound hunters are compensated up to $2,500.00 for each hound killed or injured by wolves in Wisconsin, even when they have already been paid for depredations in the very same Wolf Caution Area.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) was responsible for pressuring state politicians to repeal the “B” license requirement to bait for bear or train dogs to chase them, which occurs mostly on public lands in Wisconsin. Since then, anyone can come to Wisconsin and allow their packs of hounds to chase bears and other wildlife. Remember, the bear hound training season is just that, a training season. Most of the dogs being loosed are six-month old pups, learning how to chase and harass bears. Many commercial dog trainers are paid to bring dogs to Wisconsin, because of the virtual lack of any requirement for a license to train dogs on public lands.
While bear hunters releasing young hounds into known Wolf Caution Areas are clearly the ones responsible for the conflicts between wolves and bear hounds, the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and other unethical hounders argue that depredations can only be prevented when wolves are no longer protected and can be legally hunted, including with hounds. Wisconsin is the only state in the nation where wolves can be run down with hounds, when not protected by the federal law, as has been the case since December 2014.
With the full month of August bear hound training, and the actual hound hunt for bear in September and October still to come, more deadly fights between wolves and bear hounds are sure to occur.
If you agree that its time to end the practices of bear baiting and bear hound training in our national forests, please send an email comment to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials at: