A Wisconsin bear baiter who lost a hound to wolves on August 12th, 2020 returned to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest this week and had another hound killed by the very same wolves on August 19th. Let me first say that Wolf Patrol offers its condolences for your losses, but we also find bear baiters in our national forests recklessly irresponsible for not heeding the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) warnings to avoid the “Wolf Caution Area” created by your very own actions.
Of course, getting paid $2,500 out of Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Fund for each hound killed by wolves isn’t your motivation. But Wolf Patrol has learned that continuing to run bear hounds and bait bears in the same wolf range where you’ve already lost a hound, is simply asking for trouble. Bear hunters from all states are allowed unlimited bear baiting and unlicensed hound training in Wisconsin’s national forests. But why hasn’t the WDNR and the U.S. Forest Service done anything to limit bear baiting and hound training in areas where wolves have already killed bear hounds?
When a Wisconsin bear hunter releases a hound in our national forest and has it killed by wolves, it’s not their own reflection in the mirror they blame, but the federally protected wolves that are simply defending their homelands from loose packs of dogs running rampant through our forests. It’s like blaming the driver of an automobile that hits your dog after you have allowed it to run free on a busy highway.
While the WDNR & U.S. Forest Service continue to allow bear hunters to treat our national forests like their own private hunting club, is it any surprise that the very same bear hunters next move after a wolf depredation on bear hounds is to launch an illegal war on federally protected wildlife that includes poisoning and vows to kill every wolf they encounter?
Since the two depredations have occurred in Forest County, the very same Wisconsin bear hunters involved are publicly stating that they will openly violate the federal Endangered Species Act and shoot, poison and run over any wolves in Wisconsin they encounter. Such open threats to illegally kill federally protected wildlife are not met with condemnation from state and federal authorities, but instead silence.
Maybe it’s time for some of our own direct action. Would those in charge of managing our national forests take notice if pro-wolf advocates decided to also take the law into their own hands to stop this senseless killing? In the absence of any preventive action to limit bear baiting and hound training in areas where it’s already causing deadly conflicts and ignorant vigilantism, what are we the public left to do?
These are questions we at Wolf Patrol would like our supporters to ask their elected representatives (if Wisconsin residents) and U.S. Forest officials who continue to turn a bind eye to the storm that is brewing every Summer in northern Wisconsin. Bear hunters say the solution is an open season on gray wolves. Wolf Patrol says the answer is a license requirement and limit to the number of bear baits and hounds allowed to trespass our national forests.
Are we being unreasonable? In the last five years, Wolf Patrol has asked only that those responsible for the management of our public lands take appropriate action to limit the behavior of land users whose actions are causing a preventable deadly conflict with federally protected gray wolves.
Absent from Wolf Patrol’s Facebook page, website and YouTube channel are calls for any kind of retaliation against bear hunters. No one is asking citizens to take to forest roads and tamper with the thousands of bear baits littering our forests, or calls to smash bear hunters trail cameras, or even poisoning any of the thousands of hounds released without license in federally protected wildlife habitat and public lands. All we are asking for is for those responsible to do the right thing and limit the behavior of a segment of the population currently treating our national forests like a toilet.
Perhaps WDNR & the U.S. Forest Service are hoping if they do nothing and more hounds are killed by wolves, that federal authorities will simply cave in and say it’s time to once again to eradicate gray wolves from the landscape. If we are to consider the recent appointment by WDNR of a hound hunter into the position of Large Carnivore Specialist responsible for the management of wolves and bears, then it begins to appear that both the WDNR & USFS’s concern isn’t with protecting our public lands and wildlife, but instead the rights of a small minority to do whatever they like in their pursuit to kill bears.
Wolf Patrol is calling on everyone opposed to the irresponsible actions of bear hunters in Wisconsin to get involved. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Call state and federal authorities. And most importantly, visit the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and see for yourself what it is like on any average day between July 1st, when hound training season begins and late October, when the kill season finally ends.
Wolf Patrol refuses to sit idly by while another wolf or yes, even bear hound is killed. This is also a call to reasonable bear hunters to clean up your own mess. We know not all of you are as ignorant as the hound hunters of Forest County, but it’s time for you to act responsibly and no longer willfully put your dogs at risk, just so you can chase a bear.
Please contact state and federal public lands managers and ask them why they are not taking action to limit the activities of those who openly advocate for the killing of federally protected wildlife in our national forests when their own behavior leads to the senseless deaths of domestic and wild animals.
The Future of our national forests is in your hands. Act now to prevent our public lands from becoming the dumping grounds for millions of gallons of bear bait and thousands of unlicensed hunting hounds, all for the sake of those who take joy from shooting bears out of trees.