It’s time for Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to require registration and a limit on the number of bear baits hunters can use on our national forest lands. Every year, over 4 million gallons of food waste is dumped in northern Wisconsin to attract bears so hunters can chase and kill them. It’s even legal to feed black bears chocolate in Wisconsin, which is toxic to bears, wolves and other canines.
This Summer, Wolf Patrol is in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, documenting and reporting out-of-compliance to WDNR conservation officers. The first thing WDNR asks, is whether Wolf Patrol knows who is operating the bear baits in question. It takes valuable time away from conservation officers to have to simply identify who is responsible for a bear bait in Wisconsin, as there is currently no legal requirement for bear hunters to provide WDNR with the number or location of bear baits a hunter is using.
A simple bait registration system such as that employed by Minnesota, would also create revenue that could in turn go towards the costs of policing Wisconsin bear baiting on national forest lands.
In the recently approved WDNR 20-year Bear Management Plan, mention is made 14 times of the lack of information available on the impact of baiting on Wisconsin’s black bear population. A registration system could also create the necessary funding for such research.