This year’s Wisconsin black bear hunt was the source of multiple conflicts between wolves and bear hunting hounds with a total of twenty-one deadly fights reported, killing sixteen dogs and injuring an unknown number of wolves. Wolf Patrol is the only organization in the country opposing this conflict in the northwoods of Wisconsin, where it is happening.
Our presence in the field has become a thorn in the side of hound hunters, who know that we are monitoring for illegal hunting activities in places where no other wolf groups dare to operate. Here’s Part One of our update from the field, which begins in early June when bear baiting season begins. This film covers our monitoring of the first month of bear hound training season which began July 1st.
In addition to reporting bear baits out of compliance to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Wolf Patrol again documented the prolific bear baiting taking place in Wolf Caution Areas where bear hounds have been killed by wolves on public lands. We successfully asserted our rights to maintain experimental bear baits in an effort to document and illustrate the impact intentional feeding has on black bears in this part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where DNR researchers found that 40% of a black bear’s diet is composed of bear bait set out by humans.
Only nine months ago, hound hunters in Wolf Patrol’s Forest County operating area confronted our research team, illegally detaining and assaulting our patrol in their claim that we were breaking Wisconsin’s unconstitutional hunter harassment laws. We responded with a video campaign highlighting the illegal and cruel practices associated with hound hunters in Wisconsin, that itself resulted in a criminal investigation of those featured in the videos.
Not only did Wolf Patrol return, but Forest County Sheriff’s deputies and DNR wardens also responded, helping us recover stolen trail cameras and bring out of compliance bear baits into compliance. We also distributed dog bells to two groups of hound hunters, which have been proven to help reduce conflicts between bear hounds and wolves.
The next installment of Wolf Patrol’s Report on the 2018 Wisconsin Bear Hunter & Gray Wolf Conflict will focus on the multiple depredations on bear hounds attributed to wolves that took place outside of our Forest County patrol area.