Wisconsin’s Fall Trapping Season Doubles as Illegal Wolf Trapping Season


Wisconsin trapper John Oens with yet another trapped wolf.

Every year since gray wolves were returned to federal protections in 2014, Wisconsin trapper John Oens has been catching them in his coyote traps. Wisconsin’s recreational/commercial trapping season begins in October, and is the cause of many “incidental” trapping incidents involving legally protected wolves.

For trappers like Oens, the illegal captures have become an easy way to gain attention on YouTube, with videos of the wolves being released from his traps receiving millions of views. Most viewers are unaware that Oens himself is the cause of what has become his annual wolf captures. This kind of state sponsored harassment of a federally protected species to boost YouTube views should be condemned by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and prosecuted as the harassment of federally protected wildlife.

Another grave example of how Wisconsin’s coyote trapping season is threatening gray wolves in the state, is the actual incidents when incidentally trapped wolves are illegally killed by trappers, as happened last December outside of Spooner, Wisconsin.

On the morning of December 27, 2017 an off-duty police officer from the small town of Siren, Wisconsin was driving home when he saw a wolf caught in a trap west of Spooner near the Yellow River. The local officer called the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) Violator Hotline before returning to the location of the trapped wolf. Upon returning, he saw a green Chevy truck with a dog box, that the officer recognized as belonging to a local bear hunter, Alfred Paulson. He also noticed that the wolf was no longer in the trap.

Less than an hour later, a couple from Madison, Wisconsin discovered a dead wolf hidden in brush in the same area, and as they were leaving encountered Paulson who admitted that he had released a wolf earlier from one of his coyote traps. Later that afternoon, the off-duty officer again returned to the location, this time following the blood trail from Paulson’s trap site, where he first saw the wolf, to where the dead wolf was now hidden under a spruce tree with a single gunshot wound to the head.


Illegally killed wolf in Michigan 2017.

WDNR conservation officer Jesse Ashton responded to the officer’s tip, collecting the dead wolf and other evidence from the scene of the crime, before running the license plate from the green hound truck seen near the trap site. The truck was registered to Paulson, who was visited by WDNR officer Ashton in Spooner. Paulson denied killing the wolf, but said he had discovered the dead animal dragged away from his coyote trap site.

On July 10, 2018, officer Ashton returned to Paulson’s residence with US Fish & Wildlife Special Agent Darin Brandenburg and a search warrant, to look for the .22 caliber rifle that was used to kill the wolf last December, according to findings from the USFWS forensics laboratory. Again Paulson was questioned, and finally when shown the findings on the four .22 shell casings collected from his trap site, admitted to shooting the wolf with his .22 rifle and dragging the body into the woods where it was later discovered.

This incident is also evidence that many trappers are also Wisconsin hound hunters, waging a campaign against federally protected wolves that they believe are responsible for killing hunting dogs. Wolf Patrol has long reported on the public support amongst hound hunters for wolf poaching. Public threats on social media regularly follow depredation incidents, especially in areas where bear hounds have been recently killed, as is the case in Burnett County, where Paulson killed his wolf.


2017 Wolf depredations on hunting dogs in Burnett County (red square location of Paulson’s trapped wolf).

During 2017’s Wisconsin bear season, five conflicts were reported between bear hounds and wolves in Burnett County where Paulson and many bear hunt. In addition, according to WDNR, on December 22, 2017, just five days before Paulson trapped and killed his illegal wolf, a hunting beagle was injured by wolves in Burnett County. During the 2018 bear hunt, two more wolf conflicts with bear hounds were reported with another four occurring just north, in Douglas County.


2018 Wolf depredations on hunting dogs in Burnett & Douglas Counties.

A recent study published in the Journal of Mammalogy and conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that WDNR has been systematically underreporting the illegal killing of wolves in the state. The study analyzed data collected from dead wolves from 1979 to 2012, and found that 37% of those wolves reported as roadkill were most likely killed by gunshot.

The Alfred Paulson wolf poaching case is moving forward with a status conference planned for this November 2018. Please join Wolf Patrol in calling for the maximum punishment in this latest example of Wisconsin’s war on wolves!

If you would help, letters in the Paulson case are now needed!

Here’s the addresses and a sample letter with more information, remember you must send a copy of your letter to each of the listed parties:

Judge Melissa Mogen
Burnett County Courts
7410 County Road K
Siren, WI 54872

Thomas Mulligan II, Defense Attorney
Mulligan Law Office
P.O. Box 457
Spooner, WI 54801

Daniel Patrick Steffen, District Attorney
7410 County Rd. K
Siren, WI 54872

Judge Melissa Mogen
Burnett County Court
Clerk of Courts Office
7410 County Road K
Siren, WI 54872

cc: Thomas Mulligan II, Defense Attorney
Daniel Patrick Steffen, District Attorney

State of Wisconsin vs. Alfred Paulson Burnett County Case Number 2018CM000223

Dear Judge Mogen,

I am writing in earnest to ask that you find Alfred Paulson guilty of poaching an endangered species, the Gray Wolf, and penalize him to the maximum extent possible. I volunteer for the WDNR as a carnivore tracker, frog & toad surveyor, turtle monitor, monarch butterfly monitor and I do water clarity monitoring as well. I value all wildlife for their importance to a diverse and healthy ecosystem and thoroughly enjoy seeing and hearing them daily. Gray Wolves provide many ecological benefits and this is born out in science research as well.

Law enforcement criminal complaints show this wolf was alive in the trap when a citizen discovered it. Alfred Paulson did not incidentally catch this wolf. He is stating that he was trapping for coyotes and that is a lie based on the following two facts:

Trappers have incidental catches all too frequently. If the incidentally trapped animal is alive, the WDNR asks only that the animal be released. If the released animal is a protected/threatened/endangered animal, the ethical trapper is encouraged to report it to the WDNR and that would be it.

If this indeed was an unintentionally trapped wolf, why would Alfred Paulson not have simply released the wolf? Mr. Paulson planned to intentionally kill this wolf. Mr. Paulson knew there were wolves in the area, as he is a bear hound hunter. Furthermore, the report also states the complainant recognized “it [the owner of the Green Chevy truck] as a subject who hunts bears with dogs in the area…” According to WDNR’s “Wolf Pack Count Details”, there are wolves identified in that area/tracking block as well as surrounding tracking blocks.

I track in a block adjacent to the block where Alfred Paulson hunts for bears with his dogs and where he also traps. It is a well-known fact that hound hunting dogs who are sent off of bait sites into areas where wolves are raising their young, are often killed by the wolves who are protecting their territories. It is also a well-known fact that some hound hunters will/have killed wolves that live in their hound hunting areas so they will not interfere with their dogs. Alfred Paulson knew wolves ran in his hunting area and laid his trap in a spot likely to catch a wolf.

Wolves should not be persecuted and are protected by federal law. The Gray Wolf was extirpated from Wisconsin back in the 1950‘s by people such as Alfred Paulson. Wolves have been persecuted for centuries and it continuing to this day. Since then, Wisconsin has spent millions of dollars and numerous decades to monitor wolves and their migration back into Wisconsin from Minnesota. A 2014 survey by the WDNR showed that a majority of northern rural WI residents want a robust population of wolves in our state. We are one of only a handful of states fortunate enough to still have wolves.

Regretfully, a minute but lethal segment of WI society subscribe to the “SSS” (shoot, shovel and shut-up) mentality which, as stated earlier, is what extirpated wolves to begin with. They are willing to illegally kill a wolf for a misguided long-held hatred of wolves and they believe they won’t get caught.

Recent science has indicated that poaching of wolves is higher in Wisconsin than previously espoused https://www.jsonline.com/…/study-says-wisconsin-d…/97373334/ Also see Gray Wolf Mortality Patterns in Wisconsin: 1979-2012 – https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article/98/1/17/2977342), 02 February 2017; “Mismeasured mortality: Correcting estimates of wolf poaching in the United States – http://faculty.nelson.wisc.edu/trev…/…/Treves_etal_2017b.pdf

Alfred Paulson was charged under state statutes/guidelines rather than federally charged with civil and criminal penalties. Cruelly poaching a federally protected species violates the Endangered Species Act and draws a much harsher punishment (https://www.fws.gov/le/USStatutes/ESA.pdf).

Federal agencies defer to the states and expect criminal penalties will be imposed. Examples of penalties for this crime at the federal level under statute: Fines up to $50,000; 6 months in jail and license suspension. In the recent Michigan wolf poaching case decided on 2/20/18, Honorable C Joseph Schwedler sentenced Donald Curtis Aberly of Crystal Falls to both fines and restitution of $2,255, probation and revocation of hunting and trapping privileges.

Additionally, I encourage you to consider imposing the following:

1) Attendance at a wolf education seminar/workshop;

2) Attendance at a wolf education training program that would follow with Alfred Paulson attending schools to talk w/ young students about the concepts learned in the wolf education program including the value of wolves.

3) Suspension of trapping privileges for three years.

Thank you for your work on this case and the opportunity given for citizen input.

Polk County


First Report on 2018 Wisconsin Bear Hunter & Wolf Conflicts

This year’s Wisconsin black bear hunt was the source of multiple conflicts between wolves and bear hunting hounds with a total of twenty-one deadly fights reported, killing sixteen dogs and injuring an unknown number of wolves. Wolf Patrol is the only organization in the country opposing this conflict in the northwoods of Wisconsin, where it is happening.


Wisconsin bear hunting truck with hounds

Our presence in the field has become a thorn in the side of hound hunters, who know that we are monitoring for illegal hunting activities in places where no other wolf groups dare to operate. Here’s Part One of our update from the field, which begins in early June when bear baiting season begins. This film covers our monitoring of the first month of bear hound training season which began July 1st.

In addition to reporting bear baits out of compliance to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Wolf Patrol again documented the prolific bear baiting taking place in Wolf Caution Areas where bear hounds have been killed by wolves on public lands. We successfully asserted our rights to maintain experimental bear baits in an effort to document and illustrate the impact intentional feeding has on black bears in this part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where DNR researchers found that 40% of a black bear’s diet is composed of bear bait set out by humans.


Bear hound seriously injured by wolves July 2018.

Only nine months ago, hound hunters in Wolf Patrol’s Forest County operating area confronted our research team, illegally detaining and assaulting our patrol in their claim that we were breaking Wisconsin’s unconstitutional hunter harassment laws. We responded with a video campaign highlighting the illegal and cruel practices associated with hound hunters in Wisconsin, that itself resulted in a criminal investigation of those featured in the videos.

Not only did Wolf Patrol return, but Forest County Sheriff’s deputies and DNR wardens also responded, helping us recover stolen trail cameras and bring out of compliance bear baits into compliance. We also distributed dog bells to two groups of hound hunters, which have been proven to help reduce conflicts between bear hounds and wolves.


Forest County Sheriff’s deputy investigating trail camera theft.

The next installment of Wolf Patrol’s Report on the 2018 Wisconsin Bear Hunter & Gray Wolf Conflict will focus on the multiple depredations on bear hounds attributed to wolves that took place outside of our Forest County patrol area.




Tyler Kettlewell’s dogs baying a bear.

Wolf Patrol Welcomes Fire Keeper Wolves to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest!

On the last weekend of Wisconsin’s 2018 bear hunt, Wolf Patrol recorded the howls coming from the newly named Fire Keeper Pack, while monitoring continued bear hunting in two Wolf Caution Areas in northern Wisconsin.

Since 2016, Wolf Patrol has been monitoring wolf activity in portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Forest County. We were first drawn to the area because of illegal wolf killings and baiting meant to kill wolves discovered in the area. Since then we have been confronted by hound hunters opposed to Wolf Patrol’s presence on these national forest lands, including in January 2018, when hounders blockaded our patrol vehicle and assaulted our crew.

This Summer we began monitoring bear hunting activities, in particular bear baiting and hound training in areas where we identified multiple wolf packs over the past two winters of tracking. This portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is popular with many bear hunters, and it wasn’t long before we began seeing wolf sign at bear baits in the area.

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On August 30, 2018 a bear hound was injured by wolves in this portion of the national forest, and then the very next day, two more bear hounds were killed by wolves in the immediate area we had been patrolling since June 2018. Once bear hound training season was over, and the killing season began in September, another bear hound was injured by wolves on September 18th. Finally, on September 29, one more bear hound was killed, just north of where two were killed on August 31st.

A common factor in all the areas where bear hounds were injured or killed in Forest County in the 2018 Wisconsin bear season is the prevalence of bear baits, that attract wolves to locations where bear hounds are also released to trail bears from the bait sites.

Wisconsin’s bear hunting season may be over, but the threat posed by hound hunters in Forest County to wolves in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is far from over. Historically, wolf poaching occurs during Wisconsin’s firearms deer season, and once snow has fallen, making wolf tracking by poachers much easier.

Wolf Patrol will continue monitoring wolf activity in Forest County and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest throughout winter 2018-19, which is also the time when hound hunters return to these forests to hound hunt for bobcat and coyote.

You can join Wolf Patrol in our battle to protect the wolves of Wisconsin by sending an email to US Forest Service officials asking that the conflicts created by hound hunters on our national forests be addressed and prevented with greater regulation of bear baiting and hound hunting & training.

SEND EMAILS TO: cnnfadmin@fs.fed.us

gaspardo wolf

Bear Baiting in Wisconsin Results in 21 Deadly Fights Between Bear Hounds and Wolves on Public Lands

On the last day of Wisconsin’s 2018 black bear hunt, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported the 21st deadly encounter between bear hunting dogs and federally protected gray wolves. Most of the violent conflicts between hounds and wolves occurred in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest of northern Wisconsin, where bear baiting legally begins in April, with bear hound training season following in July, and finally the kill season in September. Over 12,000 bear hunters took to the field in 2018, killing over 4,500 bears. Over 95% of all black bears killed in Wisconsin are taken with the aid of bait and/or hounds.


In Wisconsin there are no laws limiting the number of bear baits anyone can use on public lands. Bear hunters are not even required to register their baits, and unlike neighboring states like Michigan, its even legal to use chocolate as bear bait despite it being toxic and dangerous to bears and other canines. The combination of baiting and hound hunting in Wisconsin has created an annual conflict that has become a part of Wisconsin’s bear hunt. Hound hunters use bear baits to attract bears close to roads where their dogs can catch their scent.


The problem is, not only bears are attracted to baits, but wolves and other wildlife as well. When wolves become conditioned to feeding from bear baits, they don’t only chase off the bears, but will consider any loose dog in the area competition for the intentional feeding site. In the 2018 bear season multiple wolves were reportedly visiting baits in northern Wisconsin and Michigan. As predicted, these baiting sites were largely to blame for the over 20 bear hunting hounds killed by federally protected gray wolves on public lands between July-October 2018.


Wolf Patrol is asking Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials to end the practice of bear baiting and bear hound training on our national forest lands where its causing more deadly encounters with hunting dogs than any where else in the nation. This is a preventable problem that Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources is responsible for allowing with its virtually lack of regulation over bear baiting and hound training. Wisconsin’s national forests belong to everyone, not just bear hunters. Legalized hunting practices that cause deadly conflicts with wolves need to addressed before more dogs and wolves are killed.


Please join us in calling for end to the deadly conflict between bear hunting dogs and Wisconsin’s wolves!



CB3 BEAR 8.11.18

Conversations With A Wisconsin Bear Hunter…UNEDITED

Last week in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wolf Patrol monitors were questioned about our campaign to end bear baiting and hound training on national forest lands. We appreciate the opportunity to address concerns of bear hunters who do not know why Wolf Patrol is opposed to bear baiting and hound training.

The following video is of the entire recorded conversation, although it was interrupted when the camera stopped recording. We offer the complete video without editing so the nature of the conversation could be better understood. Unfortunately, the gentleman in the passenger seat cannot be heard as well.


Wolf Patrol is not implying in any way that these particular bear hunters were breaking any laws or hunting in unethical ways. We simply encountered them as they were assisting a disabled hunter in finding a bear in the Wolf Caution Area where a bear hound was killed on September 29, 2018.

If you would like to join the debate by voicing your opposition to bear hunting practices that endanger federally protected gray wolves, please send your email to USFS officials at:


Hounders Continue Attracting Wolves with Bear Baits in Forest County Wolf Caution Areas

Yesterday Wolf Patrol continued checking up on active bear baits in areas of Forest County and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest where bear hounds were recently killed by wolves in September 2018.

We found one bait we had reported for being too close to Highway 55 (legal requirement is 100 yards) removed, and the remaining bear bait brought into compliance. But in another area north of Highway 55 off of Fishel Road, where multiple bear baits are located, Wolf Patrol found one particular bear bait still being used despite being less than 20 yards from the road (legal requirement in these conditions is 50 yards,)


Wolves at a Baraga, Michigan bear bait September 2018.

This year more and more bear hunters are reporting wolves visiting their bear baits. In both Wisconsin and Michigan bear hunters have reported multiple wolves at bear baits in areas where bear hounds were also killed by wolves. The practice of bear baiting is used by hound hunters to draw bears close enough to the road for hounds to catch their scent. The only problems are the baits also attract wolves and other wildlife, creating a recipe for conflict between territorial wolves that view bear baits as a feeding site.

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In two Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Wolf Caution Areas in Forest County established this September, Wolf Patrol monitors documented over a dozen active bear baits near the location where bear hounds were killed by wolves.

Wolf Patrol is asking Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials to end bear baiting and bear hound training and hunting in WDNR Wolf Caution Areas. To join the call, please send your email to:



Wolf Patrol Returns to Monitor Bear Hunting in Forest County Wolf Caution Areas

Wolf Patrol is continuing its campaign monitoring bear hunting activities in areas where bear hunting hounds have recently been killed by wolves in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF). Portions of the CNNF in Forest County, Wisconsin have seen a total of five deadly conflicts between bear hounds and wolves, making it the number one county in Wisconsin for wolf depredations on hunting dogs.

On October 6, Wolf Patrol monitors were monitoring continued bear hunting where wolves depredated a bear hound on September 30, 2018. The above video is an edited conversation between bear hunters operating in the area and Wolf Patrol monitors. The full unedited video will be available online at a later date.

Wolf Patrol welcomes civil conversation and respectful debate with those engaged in hunting practices which we oppose. We’d like to thank the hound hunters we shared our opinions with this morning and wish them a safe hunting rest of their season.



Wisconsin’s Hound Hunters Given Free Reign by DNR to Torture Public Trust Wildlife


Once again, Wolf Patrol would like the public to know why there are so many dog fights with wolves in Wisconsin. Since July 2018, there have been over 20 violent clashes between bear hunting hounds and gray wolves in Wisconsin, most in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The annual fights have become an expected part of bear hunting traditions in Wisconsin, as more and more hound hunters are running their packs of dogs through national forest lands where wolves have recently returned, after having been pushed to the brink of extinction in the last century.


Animal abuser and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association member, Walker Jones September 2017.


Every hound hunter in Wisconsin uses bear baits to lure bears close enough for their dogs to chase them. And while the baits themselves attract wolves, bears and other wildlife, the very presence of unleashed dogs running through wolf territory is a recipe for disaster. Another contributing element to hunting dog/wolf conflicts in Wisconsin is simply the way hunting hounds are raised and trained to fight the wildlife they are pursuing, despite the practice being illegal. Wisconsin’s hound hunters routinely encourage their hounds to be aggressive.

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In September 2018, Wolf Patrol published the video of a Michigan bear hunter who had two dogs killed by wolves recently. In the video, Paul Robachek’s hounds are verbally encouraged to maul and fight a cornered coyote.

In the above video posted by Wisconsin bear hunter Walker Jones, the hound hunting party laughs and jokes as they illegally dig a live coyote out of its den so they can allow their dogs to kill it. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) continues to turn a blind eye to the animal cruelty common in Wisconsin hound hunting practices, that is why Wisconsin’s hounders are comfortable sharing their cruel videos on Facebook.


Walker Jones 12/16.


In multiple other videos published by Wisconsin bear hunters Andy Dertinger, Ratt Nicks, Travis Britten and Nicholas Valenta, bear hunting dogs can be seen viciously fighting coyotes in the off season. Hound hunters in Wisconsin do not use their dogs for only one species, but often hunt not only bear, but often coyotes, bobcats and raccoons as well.

Bloodlust is encouraged in hunting dogs, and promoted as a marketable value when they are sold to other hound hunters, as has been documented this week on Wisconsin bear hunter’s social media accounts during the closing weeks of this year’s bear season.

Wisconsin’s War on Wildlife Video 003: Coyote Hunting with Hounds from Wolf Patrol on Vimeo.

Its time to get the hounds out of our national forests! If you train your dogs to fight wildlife, they should not be allowed on our public lands. If you agree, please send an email to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials asking that bear baiting, hound training and hunting be ended in Wisconsin’s national forests.






Bear Hunters to Blame for 18 Hound Fights with Wolves Since July 2018

On September 22 & 23, 2018, in two separate bear hunting incidents in northern Wisconsin, wolves fought and killed two hunting dogs in Price and Lincoln Counties. The Lincoln County incident occurred two miles from where another hound was killed on county forest lands ten days before, presumably by the same wolves, attracted to the area by bear baits they are feeding from this Summer in increasing numbers.

These latest bear hunting causalities bring the total number of bear hound/wolf fights in Wisconsin (since bear hound training season began on July 1) to 18, with this year’s hound hunt for bear running until October 9th. The first fight between wolves and bear hounds this year took place during the first week of bear hound training season on July 5, 2018. Since then bear hound/wolf fights have been occurring about once a week, usually on weekends when more bear hunters are afield.


Wisconsin bear hound injured by wolves July, 2018.

Despite hunting bears with hounds only being legal since the 1960’s, Wisconsin’s annual bear hunt is enshrined in tradition as well as being an economic boost to many rural communities. So its not surprising to learn the lengths the state will go to deny that recreational and commercial bear hunters are causing any problems. Instead, this is the time of year when hunting cabins are filled, local newspapers feature pictures of dead bears, and four-wheel drive trucks with hound boxes can be seen and heard on every rural Wisconsin road.

Wisconsin bear hunters enjoy a cozy relationship with the state legislature, which is why state laws have favored hound hunters in recent years. In April 2016, Governor Scott Walker attended the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s annual conference to sign into law the Right to Hunt Act, which specifically targeted Wolf Patrol for exposing Wisconsin’s unethical hunting practices. The law prohibits anyone from photographing or videotaping Wisconsin hunters on public lands, but county prosecutors are reluctant to charge Wolf Patrol, because it is blatantly unconstitutional and could lead to costly legal battles, resulting in the law being overturned.

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Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s message to members.

Another notable legislative victory for the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, was the 2015 legislative action that removed the “B”  license requirement to bait for bear or run hounds in Wisconsin. Since then, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has been unable to accurately assess how many hound hunters operate in Wisconsin during bear season, (which runs from July through October) or how many bear baits there are on public lands, since there is no requirement to register bear baits and there is no limit on the number a hunter can use.

In the national hound hunting community, everyone knows of the loose bear hunting regulations in Wisconsin, which is why many hound hunters come from Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and other states to run dogs, either to simply train, or during the kill season. Coupled with an increase in the number complaints related to resident bear hunters competing for public land use, Wisconsin’s national forest lands are seeing an increase in unregulated bear baiting and hound hunting in wolf territory by both residents and non-residents alike.


While many hound hunters come from out of state to hunt bear in Wisconsin, resident hunters, including nearby Michigan residents regularly bait for bear and run dogs in northern Wisconsin public lands. Wolf Patrol chose to monitor bear hunting practices in Forest County, Wisconsin during the 2018 training/hunting season because we believed it would be an area where bear hunting hounds and wolves were likely to clash.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest encompasses over 1.5 million acres of forest lands in northern Wisconsin, with the portions that border Michigan boasting healthy wolf populations, having recolonized the region since the wolf’s extirpation from Wisconsin in the mid-20th Century. Wolves were never reintroduced, as was the case in the Yellowstone ecosystem, instead they distributed themselves from resilient survivors in Minnesota and Michigan.


Wisconsin hound injured by wolves 01/08/15.

Since their return, Wisconsin wolves have ran head-long into the hound hunting culture that grew up during their absence. In northern Wisconsin there’s hardly a month that passes when there’s not hound hunters afield on public lands chasing and killing rabbits, raccoons, fox, coyote and bear. Only now, Wisconsin’s hound hunters refuse to share the landscape with native apex predators known to prey on their trespassing hounds. Instead in what has become a regular occurrence, when wolves kill a hunting hound in Wisconsin, a string of threats erupts amongst hounders to kill, poison and “take matters into their own hands”.

The first wolf depredation on hunting dogs in 2018 took place on January 7, in Forest County when wolves injured three coyote hunting hounds. (Later that month, coyote hunters blockaded Wolf Patrol’s vehicle and assaulted crew members as they were investigating a hound hunt in the area.) In recent years, portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National in Forest County have been on Wolf Patrol’s radar, not only for local residents enjoyment of coyote killing contests, but because federally protected wolves have been killed and dumped not far from the area.

BREED WI 01.24.15

Coyote hunting hound killed by wolves near Breed, WI 01/24/15.

Over the winter of 2017-18, as well as throughout this Summer, Wolf Patrol has been monitoring wolf activity on national forest lands in Forest County, in our effort to help prevent illegal wolf killings. Beginning in early June 2018, Wolf Patrol began monitoring historic bear baits in Forest County, and quickly discovered that multiple wolf packs were also occupying an area with historic bear baits.

Our investigation into conflicts between hound hunters and federally protected gray wolves on Wisconsin national forest lands was not welcomed by bear hunters. After reporting bear baits out of compliance in late June, on July 1st, opening day of bear hound training season, two Wolf Patrol trail cameras monitoring a bear bait on national forest lands were stolen. Wolf Patrol provided evidence of the theft as well as photos of the suspects to law enforcement, who were successful in identifying and locating the bear hunters who stole the cameras. The cameras were later returned to us by the Forest County Sheriff’s Department.

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Bear hunter checking on bait in 08/31/18 Wolf Caution Area.


Because of the density of bear baits in the region, Wolf Patrol monitors wasn’t surprised when WDNR reported a bear hound had been injured by wolves in Forest County on August 30, 2018, but we were surprised when another hound depredation occurred the very next day, leaving two dogs dead, less than a mile from where Wolf Patrol trail cameras (that were not stolen) captured images of wolves visiting a bear bait in late June.

On September 18, another bear hound was injured by wolves, as it chased bears through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Forest County. This attack occurred just a few miles from where Wolf Patrol was monitoring bear hunting activity at the 09/31/18 depredation site a few days earlier, (and also only a short distance from where Wolf Patrol monitors found meat-baited fishhooks left out for predators during a local coyote killing contest in 2016).

warden investigating baits

Conservation officer investigating illegal bait in Forest County 01/26/16.

From WDNR’s Dog Depredation page:

When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will create wolf caution areas to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site…In addition, avoid releasing dogs at baits recently visited by wolves. When looking for bear sign near bait, make sure to also look for wolf tracks. Be familiar with your own dog’s tracks, so that you can distinguish it from any wolf tracks. If a specific bait site is receiving a lot of wolf use, discontinue using it until wolves have left and concentrate on an alternative bait site.

Contrary to what is advised by WDNR, since 2015, Wolf Patrol has repeatedly documented continued baiting and running of hounds in recently designated Wolf Caution Areas. As recently as September 14th, Wolf Patrol monitors identified eleven active bear baits in the 08/31/18 Wolf Caution Area, with one bait less than a quarter-mile from where two bear hounds were killed by wolves.

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Active bear baits in 08/31/18 Wolf Caution Area, Wolf Patrol 09/15/18.

What’s also interesting is that following the most recent injury of a bear hound by wolves in Forest County on 09/18/18, WDNR did not alert the public for six days (09/24/18), citing “…key staff being unavailable to post the new caution area map last week.” Although the WDNR is powerless to prohibit continuing bear baiting and hound use in Wolf Caution Areas, the system is still intended to aid in the prevention of more violent conflicts between bear hounds and wolves. Something it continually fails to do.

Instead, what the delay in reporting yet another bloody fight between bear hunting dogs and federally protected wildlife this year reveals, is that WDNR and bear hunters know that more fights are going to happen. They also know bear hunters aren’t going to stop running dogs and baiting in Wolf Caution Areas, so why bother alerting the public to another fight, when all it does is serve as an example of how bear hunters are to blame for the now 18 deadly fights between wolves and bear hounds since July 1st?

With two more weeks of bear hunting in Wisconsin ahead of us, and with the last week of the hunt dedicated only to hound hunters, more hound and wolf fights are not a question, but an expectation. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s only recommended solution is to regain state authority to recreationally kill wolves, as was legal between 2012-14 when over 500 were taken with traps, guns and hounds. Wolf Patrol has a less violent alternative: restrict and prohibit bear baiting, hound training and hunting in the entirety of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and especially in WDNR designated Wolf Caution Areas.

WDNR and the Wisconsin hound hunting community cannot be expected to do anything to prevent future deadly bear hound/wolf conflicts. That job belongs to you. If you’re a Wisconsin resident, visit the League of Conservation Voters http://conservationvoters.org to find local candidates to support in upcoming elections, and everyone else who also enjoys our national forests should send an email to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials asking them to take action to limit bear hunting activities on our national forest lands: 



Nik Seilenbinder & other Wisconsin hound hunters 08/27/17.

The following is a list of the dog fights with wolves so far this season in Wisconsin:

  • On 01/05/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves injured three hunting dogs in Forest County.
  • On 03/05/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated a Plott hound in Juneau County.
  • On 07/05/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves attacked and injured a walker hound in Burnett County.
  • On 07/07/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated a redtick hound in Oneida County.
  • On 07/07/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves attacked three hunting dogs in the same incident.  A 7-year-old walker hound was killed, a 4-year-old walker hound was injured, and a 10-month-old walker hound was also injured in Bayfield County.
  • On 7/22/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that two walker trailing hounds were injured by wolves in Douglas County.
  • On 7/28/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a plott trailing hound was injured by wolves in Douglas County.
  • On 7/29/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a walker trailing hound was injured by wolves in Burnett County.
  • On 7/29/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a plott trailing hound was killed by wolves in Sawyer County.
  • On 7/29/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a walker trailing hound was injured by wolves in Oneida County.
  • On 08/05/18, USDA- Wildlife Services confirmed that two hunting dogs were depredated by wolves during the same incident.
  • On 08/11/18, USDA- Wildlife Services confirmed that a hunting dog was depredated by wolves in the Town of Hughes, Bayfield County.
  • On 08/19/18, USDA- Wildlife Services confirmed that one hunting dog was killed and a second hunting dog was injured by wolves during the same incident in the Dairyland Township, Douglas County.
  • On 08/30/18, USDA-Wildlife Services confirmed that a hunting dog was attacked and injured by wolves in Ross Township, Forest County.
  • On 08/31/18, USDA-Wildlife Services confirmed that two hunting dogs were depredated by wolves in the Town of Argonne, Forest County.
  • On 09/13/18, USDA-Wildlife Services confirmed the depredation of hunting dog by wolves in the Town of Tomahawk, Lincoln County.
  • On 09/15/18, USDA-Wildlife Services confirmed the depredation of a hunting dog by wolves in the Town of Delta, Bayfield County.
  • On 9/18/18, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a plott hunting dog was injured by wolves in the Town of Laona, Forest County.
  • On 9/23/18 USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a redtick hunting dog was depredated by wolves in the Town of Tomahawk, Lincoln County.
  • On 9/23/18 USDA Wildlife Services confirmed that a plott hunting dog was depredated by wolves in the Town of Fifield, Price County.




Black bear killed with aid of hounds in Taylor County September 2018.

Bear Hunting Continues in McDonald Creek Wolf Caution Area & More National Forest Bear Bait Violations…

On the morning of September 16, 2018, Wolf Patrol was monitoring a bear hunting party as it operated from Highway 55 in portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Forest County, Wisconsin. Our intentions, as told to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) & US Forest Service law enforcement, isn’t to follow any random hound hunting party we encounter, but those specifically operating in WDNR designated Wolf Caution Areas, where bear hounds have recently been killed by wolves. Our intention is not to harass or interfere with any law-abiding hunter. It is to monitor and document bear hunting practices that are contributing to deadly conflicts with federally protected wolves on public national forest lands.

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Each red dot indicates a fight between bear hounds and wolves between July-September 2018.

Every year, beginning with the opening days of Wisconsin’s bear hound training season in July, bear hounds and wolves begin their own deadly fighting season, as bear hunters begin dumping food to attract bears and release their hounds to chase them. The wolves are attracted to the bear baits, as has been documented repeatedly over the years, and especially this Summer and Fall in particular. Many bear hunters in northern Wisconsin have posted trail camera captured photos of wolves at their bear baits this year.



The smart bear hunters will abandon those baits, or at the very least not run their dogs off of baits visited by wolves. Once wolves have become accustomed to feeding from a bear bait, they will defend the location as a feeding area, challenging any other canine that enters the area.

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09/15/18 Facebook post about wolves visiting bear baits.

On September 16, as Wolf Patrol monitors were traveling south on Highway 55, a large bear hunting party was moving west, following hounds chasing a bear along the Pine River and into the McDonald Creek Wolf Caution Area established August 31, 2018 when wolves killed a bear hound in the area. We decided to return to the depredation area on Windsor Dam Road, where we believed the loose hounds were heading. As we left Highway 55, heading west on Pine River Road, a yearling bear cub ran out of the woods from the direction of the loose hounds.

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A bear hunter checking an active bear bait at 08/31/18 depredation site.

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Active bear baits in the McDonald Creek Wolf Caution Area September 2018.

We continued to our destination, parking on the shoulder of Windsor Dam Road near the junction of Forest Road 2039, where the depredation occurred on 08/31/18. As we listened to the hounds move across Pine River and south of Wildcat Creek, another young bear came bolting out of the forest away from the loose hounds. Wolf Patrol remained in the area until the loose hounds were collected by the hound hunting party. The first portion of the above video is from this morning patrol.

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Location of bait in violation of Florence County baiting ban & WDNR bear baiting regulations.

Later that day on September 16, Wolf Patrol responded to a Wisconsin resident’s report of bear baits near a popular campground in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Chipmunk Rapids Campground is a favorite place to fish, cool off or fill up with spring water. Hound trucks were seen at the trailhead to Lost Lake, which is also the territory of a wolf family known by the same name. Fresh mud leaving a pull off 500 yards from the campground led Wolf Patrol monitors to a bear bait on Chipmunk Creek that was clearly out of compliance with WDNR bear baiting regulations.

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WDNR baiting regulations regarding exposed bait.

WDNR baiting regulations clearly state that “Bait must be enclosed and covered to prevent access to the bait material by deer.” In addition, Florence County, where the bait is located, is one of 30 counties in Wisconsin under a total ban on using exposed bait for deer, due to the growing threat of Chronic Wasting Disease to Wisconsin’s deer herd.


Gallons of exposed corn and grain at bear bait near Chipmunk Rapids Campground 09/16/18.

Yet the bait at Chipmunk Creek had approximately four pounds of loose corn and grain spread around the hollowed out and capped log that was presumably filled with more bait. (Wolf Patrol monitors do not touch or tamper active bear baits or trail cameras on national forest lands, although we will document what is visible.) Approximately 20 feet from the spilled grain was another hole in the bank that had been filled with liquid bait consisting of oil, grease and other unknown materials.


Pit filled with grease, oil and unknown substances at bear bait 09/16/18.

Wolf Patrol will be returning to the Chipmunk Rapids area in September to conduct a more thorough search of bear baits on national forest lands. Where there is one illegal bear bait, our experience has been that there are always more being operated by the same bear hunters. The bait was reported to WDNR’s Violation Hotline on September 17, 2018.


Wolf Patrol trail camera captures wolves in McDonald Creek Wolf Caution Area 09/13/18.

With gray wolves successfully returning to suitable habitat, and the growing popularity of hound hunting throughout Wisconsin, deadly conflicts between bear hounds and wolves are sure to continue. Wolf Patrol is asking Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials to restrict and/or ban bear baiting and bear hound training on national forest lands. We are also asking for restrictions on bear hunting in known Wolf Caution Areas where bear hounds have already been killed by wolves.

If you agree its time to end these deadly conflict-causing practices on our national forest lands, please send your email to: