No where else but in Wisconsin can a hunter use thousands of gallons of bait to attract bears for their hounds to chase, months before the September hunting season, without any license required or limit on the number of baits they can use.
The last time the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) surveyed in 2014, over 4 million gallons of human food waste such as donuts, cookies, bread, candy, syrup, chocolate and other sugary foods were being dumped in bear baits, much of it in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest where the WDNR conducted a study that found 40% of a black bear’s diet in the forest to be artificial bait.
Wisconsin is one of the few remaining states allowing the use of chocolate as bear bait due to its toxicity to not only bears but wolves and other canids. Older bear hunters have told Wolf Patrol they believe chocolate in Wisconsin baits is killing bear cubs. Let’s not forget that over the past two winter’s someone has been setting out poisoned meat, always near popular bear hunting areas and always near where wolves have killed bear hounds. Wolf Patrol continues to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of whoever is responsible and many suspect hound hunters.
Wisconsin’s bear baiting regulations allow anyone to bait bears, as long as they are doing so for a licensed bear hunter. If you can simply provide the name of a bear tag holder, you are legally allowed to feed bears junk food from April until October, what researchers says is the entire active period for a black bear.
And neither the WDNR nor the US Forest Service know exactly how many bear baits there are in Wisconsin because there is no requirement to register their location to game wardens such as is the case in the neighboring state of Minnesota. The problems do not end with the intentional feeding of wildlife so hunters can train their dogs to chase them, all on our national forest lands.
The problem with bear baiting is that its not just bears being attracted to baits but wolves as well. Since their recolonization of Wisconsin, gray wolves have become habituated to feeding from bear baits. So when hounds are released from these sites, they are often killed and eaten by wolves defending the area as a feeding site or simply being protective of young pups.
The video and trail camera images in this video were all provided by Wisconsin bear hunters currently baiting bears and training hounds in northern Wisconsin. It is a known fact that wolves will kill bear hounds, especially in Summer months and already four depredations on bear hounds have occurred in the first month of training season.
It’s time the US Forest Service prohibits the feeding of bears and summer training of hounds, especially in areas where there is a history of depredations, like the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.