As we enter the fourth and final week of the hound hunt for bear in Wisconsin, deadly clashes between federally protected gray wolves and bear hunting hounds continue on a weekly basis. On October 3rd, 2020 bear hunters operating baits in Forest County had wolves attack two of their hounds in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. These same bear hunters had reported to Wolf Patrol that wolves were visiting their bait sites in the area.
On October 4, 2020 a hound hunter operating just south of two Wolf Caution Areas in Marinette County, came upon one of his hounds surrounded by wolves after he had released it from one of his bear bait sites. The hunter was able to retrieve his dog, but reported that the pursuing wolves followed him all the way back to his truck. Both of these recent incidents occurred in areas where bear hunters had been baiting bears since June 2020.
On October 7, 2020 wolves killed a bear hound being run off of bear baits in Langlade County. This latest depredation occurred in area heavily baited for bear, and where two bear hounds were killed in 2016 & 2017.
To date, there have been 23 separate clashes between gray wolves and bear hunting hounds in Wisconsin since bear hound training & baiting season began in July. Baiting is allowed from April, but most depredations on hounds occur during the two-month summer training season, with kill season ending on October 13, 2020.
A total of 25 bear hounds have been killed and seven injured by wolves this year. Despite the fact that many wolf depredations on bear hounds occur in WDNR Wolf Caution Areas, where bear hunters were already aware of the threat to their dogs, hound hunters are still compensated up to $2,500.00 for injuries or death caused by wolves.
Wisconsin’s bear hunters are unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions that contribute to wolf depredations on bear hounds. In every depredation incident that Wolf Patrol has investigated over the last five years, we have found active bear baiting occurring near depredation sites.
In 2020, more bear hunters reported wolves visiting their bear bait sites than in any year previous, evidence that Wisconsin’s unlimited and unregulated bear baiting practices are contributing to not only bears, but wolves becoming conditioned to feeding from bear baits.
No license in required to bait bears in Wisconsin and bear hunters can dump up to 10 gallons of bait and/or grease at a time into as many baits as they care to create on our mostly public lands. Neither the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) or the U.S. Forest Service know how many bear baits there are in Wisconsin because registration of bait sites is not required, even on national forests or other public lands.
It’s time to end bear baiting, especially in areas where it’s already caused depredations on bear hounds and other dogs. The problem in Wisconsin isn’t too many wolves, it’s too many unregistered bear baits. Join Wolf Patrol in calling for an end to bear baiting in our national forests and other public lands in Wisconsin!
Please send your emails to:
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials:
Wisconsin Natural Resources Board: