Since federally protected gray wolves killed a bear hound in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest on July 13, 2019 Wolf Patrol has been monitoring unregistered bear baits in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) designated Wolf Caution Area near where the depredation occurred.
Our public lands monitors have shown that since the depredation occurred, wolves including three young pups have been repeatedly visiting bait sites where bear hounds are continuing to be run in areas where two more bear hounds have been killed since the July 13, 2019 depredation. When bear hounds are released near bait sites that wolves identify as a food source, depredations can occur.
Wolf Patrol wants Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials and the WDNR to know that bear hound depredations are occurring not because wolves are overpopulated and need management, but because bear hunters don’t care about the well-being or safety of their hounds, especially when they are paid $2,500.00 when one is killed or injured by wolves.
Since Wisconsin’s bear hound training season began on July 1st, 2019, there have been eight reported deadly fights between gray wolves and bear hounds, leaving 9 bear hounds dead and an unknown number of wolves injured by packs of bear hounds. Neither WDNR or the U.S. Forest Service require any kind of license or permit to operate unlimited bear baits on national forest lands, including WDNR Wolf Caution Areas.
Now the bear baiter responsible for the bait site that is attracting wolves is breaking the law to keep forest officials and the public from witnessing his actions on our national forest lands. On the evening of August 9, 2019 Wolf Patrol’s trail camera monitoring the bear bait in the CNNF and WDNR’s Wolf Caution Area was tampered with in order to prevent its recording of federally protected gray wolves visiting the still active bear bait.
Ironically, it was the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association which includes members of Gresham Bear Hunters who lobbied the state legislature in 2015 to amend Wisconsin’s hunter harassment law to include any acts committed not only during hunting season, but during Wisconsin’s summer bear hound training season as well.
Last year during bear hound training season in the very same portion of the CNNF, the same bear baiter suspected of tampering with Wolf Patrol’s trail camera this year, stole two of Wolf Patrol’s trail cameras monitoring another bear bait in the area. After reporting the theft to Forest County Sheriff’s Department, investigating law enforcement were able to identify the suspect and retrieve the stolen cameras.
Wolf Patrol did not press law enforcement to prosecute the theft in 2018, but as this year’s tampering is suspected to be by the same individual, we are asking the Forest County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Forest Service and WDNR to investigate and press charges for illegally tampering with Wolf Patrol’s trail camera.
Pro-hunting groups like Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and Gresham Bear Hunters are alleging this Summer that Wolf Patrol is threatening violence and acts of property destruction, but so far its only been Wisconsin bear hunters who have been documented violating Wisconsin’s hunting rules and regulations.
Wisconsin bear hunters have grown frustrated with the continuing exposure of their unethical hunting practices on national forest lands by Wolf Patrol. Illegal acts like the tampering with legally placed trail cameras is only the latest illegal effort to stop not only Wolf Patrol, but any citizen from exercising their constitutionally protected right to witness and document any activity in our national forest lands.