On the last weekend of Wisconsin’s 2018 bear hunt, Wolf Patrol recorded the howls coming from the newly named Fire Keeper Pack, while monitoring continued bear hunting in two Wolf Caution Areas in northern Wisconsin.
Since 2016, Wolf Patrol has been monitoring wolf activity in portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Forest County. We were first drawn to the area because of illegal wolf killings and baiting meant to kill wolves discovered in the area. Since then we have been confronted by hound hunters opposed to Wolf Patrol’s presence on these national forest lands, including in January 2018, when hounders blockaded our patrol vehicle and assaulted our crew.
This Summer we began monitoring bear hunting activities, in particular bear baiting and hound training in areas where we identified multiple wolf packs over the past two winters of tracking. This portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is popular with many bear hunters, and it wasn’t long before we began seeing wolf sign at bear baits in the area.
On August 30, 2018 a bear hound was injured by wolves in this portion of the national forest, and then the very next day, two more bear hounds were killed by wolves in the immediate area we had been patrolling since June 2018. Once bear hound training season was over, and the killing season began in September, another bear hound was injured by wolves on September 18th. Finally, on September 29, one more bear hound was killed, just north of where two were killed on August 31st.
A common factor in all the areas where bear hounds were injured or killed in Forest County in the 2018 Wisconsin bear season is the prevalence of bear baits, that attract wolves to locations where bear hounds are also released to trail bears from the bait sites.
Wisconsin’s bear hunting season may be over, but the threat posed by hound hunters in Forest County to wolves in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is far from over. Historically, wolf poaching occurs during Wisconsin’s firearms deer season, and once snow has fallen, making wolf tracking by poachers much easier.
Wolf Patrol will continue monitoring wolf activity in Forest County and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest throughout winter 2018-19, which is also the time when hound hunters return to these forests to hound hunt for bobcat and coyote.
You can join Wolf Patrol in our battle to protect the wolves of Wisconsin by sending an email to US Forest Service officials asking that the conflicts created by hound hunters on our national forests be addressed and prevented with greater regulation of bear baiting and hound hunting & training.
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