In what can only be described as a two-year illegal poisoning campaign, Wisconsin bear hunters are being blamed for the recent deaths this winter of federally protected wolves, raptors, other wildlife and even two hunting hounds recently in northeastern Wisconsin.
All animals have fallen victim to the same deadly fast-acting poison that is hidden in ground meat and distributed for not just wolves, but any animal to find. Poisoned animals have been reported in Forest, Florence and Marinette counties and other poisoning incidents have been reported in Price and Bayfield counties. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are soliciting the public for any information that might help them catch whoever is responsible.
Ever since wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan were returned to federal protections in December 2014, there have been many public calls for delisting followed by much darker calls for a campaign of illegal killing involving shootings and poison.
Less than 3 miles from where two hunting hounds were poisoned in December 2019, near the town of Blackwell, Wisconsin, investigators with Wolf Patrol discovered over half a dozen meat-wrapped treble fishing hooks dangling from fishing line in January 2016, on national forest trails where wolves and other animals were meant to ingest them.
Wolf Patrol had come to Forest County in 2016, to monitor a coyote and bobcat killing contest organized in Argonne, Wisconsin. Attendees of the event openly bragged to Wolf Patrol’s founder Rod Coronado that any wolf encountered by county residents would be quickly and quietly killed. Since then, in addition to the latest poisoning campaign, other wolves have been shot and dumped in other locations not far from where recent poisoning have occurred.
Public calls to kill and poison wolves are not hard to find on many Wisconsin Facebook hunting pages, and often follow social media postings by winter hound hunters who encounter wolves while hunting bobcats and coyotes on mostly national forest lands.
Following the public announcement by WDNR & USFWS that two of his hunting hounds had died from the same poison responsible for killing wolves and other wildlife in northern Wisconsin, hound hunter Jim Matuszewski stated on his Facebook page on March 10, 2020 that he could “almost guarantee” he knew who was responsible. In the same comment thread he later said he knew of two bear hunters who were placing poison near the bear bait sites where wolves were seen on hunters’ trail cameras.
Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service should treat these poisonings as serious violations of federal law and request assistance from federal prosecutors who could compel witnesses to testify and to stop protecting those Wisconsin bear hunters responsible for the illegal killing and poisoning of federally protected wildlife.
Otherwise, more animals will continue to die as we enter another season of bear hound training and hunting which leads to more wolf conflicts that result in continued poisoning and killing of wolves and other wildlife and pets in Wisconsin.
If you have any information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for illegally poisoning wolves and other animals in Wisconsin, please call 1-800-TIP-WDNR immediately!