On July 4th, 2019, the first week of Wisconsin’s bear hound training season, Langlade County hound hunter Tyler Belott was part of a large group of hound hunters that went out to train dogs to chase bears at 10pm. The hunting party chased bears all night and near dawn, a small bear was bayed and reportedly began attacking the pursuing hounds. Belott would later testify that he retrieved a shotgun from a truck and shot the bear, only wounding the animal. He then reloaded and killed the bear it was reported during his trial in early 2020. Three bear hounds required medical staples for their wounds, and Belott originally admitted that the bear was taken back to the hound hunter’s home where it was eaten. Later, in Langlade County Court, Belott changed his story, saying he was earlier mistaken and the bear was left at the scene of the crime. The illegally killed bear was never recovered.
Belott was charged with “Hunting Bear During Closed Season” by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) conservation officer, Timothy Otto. For reasons unknown, the charge was later changed to “Hunt/Pursue Bear Without a License.” On January 22, 2020 Tyler Belott pled no contest to the charge and was later sentenced to three years of revoked hunting privileges.
When Wolf Patrol read of Belott’s conviction in a local Wisconsin paper in February 2020, we began monitoring his Facebook page and soon began collecting evidence of Belott’s continued use of hounds to hunt bear, coyote and bobcat in Wisconsin, in clear violation of his court ordered loss of hunting privileges. In February 2021, during the state’s reckless wolf hunt, Belott began posting comments encouraging his friends to continue killing wolves, despite the quota having been filled. Belott also included photos of himself holding a dead wolf with a large Langlade County hound hunting party on February 24, 2021.
Wolf Patrol reported Belott’s violations to WDNR conservation officer Timothy Otto in late February 2021, and the case was investigated by WDNR conservation officer Bradley Dahlquist. Immediately after reporting Belott to WDNR conservation officers, the guilty hound hunter quickly shutdown his Facebook account.
On March 23, 2021 WDNR’s investigating officer contacted Wolf Patrol to inform us of WDNR’s findings. Dahlquist said though some hunts Belott’s shared pictures of on Facebook occurred before his court-ordered revocation, many did indeed take place when he was legally prohibited from hunting. When confronted with the facts, Belott claimed to have misunderstood his sentence, believing he still could run his hounds following a stipulation agreement he made with the Langlade County Court.
Officer Dahlquist reported to Wolf Patrol that WDNR decided to issue a warning to Belott and “he has been advised he cannot train or hunt his hounds during revocation. Mr. Belott now knows this activity is prohibited, and any future involvement with training or running hounds could result in enforcement action. If you obtain any more information as to Mr. Belott illegally hunting in the future, please feel free to reach out to me or our Tip-line.”
On September 15, 2021 Wolf Patrol’s online investigations again found photos of Belott with his hunting hounds operating during bear hound training season, which is also when his original crime of killing a bear out of season occurred. We quickly contacted the WDNR investigating officer to report the violation. The following day, conservation officer Dahlquist again contacted us to provide an update, saying that following our earlier conversations, WDNR Legal looked into the stipulation agreement Belott made with the court and, “DNR legal decided that based on the stipulation and training laws in the state, Mr. Belott could continue to train his hounds because this activity is not hunting. Mr. Belott’s revocation is for hunting approvals and privileges only.”
Officer Dahlquist again tried to define what the WDNR’s understanding was of the court ordered revocation of hunting privileges saying, “Therefore, he can continue to train his hounds on bear during both the training season and harvest season (training is allowed during this season as well). However, he cannot be associated with turning his dogs loose (or participating in any other aspect of the hunt) while trying to harvest game. This activity would be considered hunting and would be in violation of his revocation.”
For example, under the current interpretation of Belott’s revocation, he could be involved in the pursuit of a bear, wolf, bobcat or coyote and if confronted by a warden, can simply claim to be training his hounds. An investigating warden would have to enter each hound hunter’s name into a database to determine if they were in possession of a kill tag, or search every vehicle for weapons to actually determine if any pursuit was for training or killing purposes. Allowing a convicted poacher to continue to pursue wildlife is not only a violation of the law, it contributes to the growing lack of public trust in the WDNR’s ability to manage bears, wolves or any animal in Wisconsin.
In 2016, Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker signed into law “The Right to Hunt Act” amending the state’s hunter harassment statute to include baiting and hound training as hunting associated activities. Now, WDNR claims to not recognize hound training as a hunting activity, even when a known violator such as Belott committed his crime while training hounds. What WDNR does not refute or defend is Belott’s involvement in Wisconsin’s last wolf hunt and the fact that it was a clear violation of his court ordered revocation.
Wolf Patrol is calling on Wisconsin’s Chief Warden Casey Krueger to enforce the revocation of Tyler Belott’s hunting privileges and prosecute him for participating in the February 2021 wolf hunt. We understand that WDNR cannot undo the stipulation agreement Belott made with the Langlade County Court that gives Belott the legal right to still run his hounds on bears and wolves. But WDNR can still rebuild public trust and confidence in their competency by appropriately prosecuting Belott for illegally hunting wolves in Wisconsin.
Please call or email Chief Warden Casey Krueger and politely ask that Belott be cited for violating his revocation order during Wisconsin’s February 2021 wolf hunt. Convicted poachers should not be allowed to participate in any legal wolf hunt and deserve to be punished when they do!
Email WDNR Chief Warden Casey Krueger @:
or call: 608-279-0830