Wolf Patrol has reported on the deadly conflict bear baiting causes when bear hounds released from bait sites are killed by territorial wolves, but this year a Wisconsin bear hunter also told us he believes chocolate in Wisconsin’s bear baits is killing young cubs.
Its a fact that chocolate contains theobromine, which can be fatal to bears, wolves and other canines. This bear hunter and baiter said he’s seen mother bears pick out chocolate from baits so cubs wouldn’t eat it. Unfortunately, other bear cubs visiting baits will eat anything left over leading to theobromine poisoning.
In 2017, Michigan banned chocolate in bear bait citing the poisoning threat to bears and other wildlife, but Wisconsin continues to allow chocolate in unlimited amounts and baits, without even requiring any registration or license.
Bear baiting is big business in northern Wisconsin where discarded baked goods and other sugary food items are resold as bear bait by the truckload. Wisconsin DNR bear baiting regulations state only that you must limit your baiting to 10 gallons per bait. Its not uncommon for summer bear hound trainers to operate more than 20 bear baits, meaning thousands of gallons of food waste is being dumped annually by individual bear hunters, much of it in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Unlimited bear baiting in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a threat to not only bears but federally protected gray wolves as well. This Summer, Wolf Patrol documented repeated visits to active bear baits by wolf pups clearly attracted to the bear bait in the log. More and more bear hunters in July also reported wolves visiting their bear baits in northern Wisconsin.
WDNR & the US Forest Service do not know how many bear baits there are in WDNR Wolf Caution Areas (designated when a depredation of a hunting dog occurs) or anywhere in the national forest because no registration of bait sites is required in Wisconsin.
All of this, so hound hunters can chase bears in July and August when instead of putting on winter weight, bears have to run from hunters with their cubs in tow. Whether because of the threat chocolate poses to bear cubs and wolf pups, or baiting in wolf territory causes to hounds, its time the WDNR & US Forest Service do something to limit the deadly impact bear hunting practices are having in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Please send emails asking WDNR & US Forest Service officials to stop bear hunters from dumping millions of gallons of bear bait and toxic food waste in federally protected wildlife habitat and our national forest lands!
What better way to celebrate Smokey the Bear’s 75th birthday than to end bear baiting!
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest: firstname.lastname@example.org