Facebook Videos Reveal Wisconsin Hunting Hounds Attacking Wounded Bears

Until Midnight April 14, 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comment on its 2019-2029 Revised Draft Bear Management Plan. Here’s a link to the plan:

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Hunt/documents/BearPlanFinalDraft.pdf

If you don’t have time to read the 56-page plan right now, here’s a two-minute video to help you better understand Wisconsin’s bear hunting practices. These videos were shared on Facebook by Wisconsin bear hunters between 2015-2018 and illustrate current bear hound training and hunting practices recognized by WDNR as integral to black bear management.

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Wisconsin hound hunter’s video of his dogs attacking a wounded bear in 2015.

If you don’t like what you see, please consider joining Wolf Patrol in calling on WDNR to make the following changes to bear hunting practices already approved in the revised draft bear plan:

  1. Require registration & limit to bear bait sites.

  2. Prohibit the use of chocolate and xylitol in bear baits.

  3. Require license for non-resident bear hound training & baiting.

  4. Prohibit bear baiting & hound training in WDNR Wolf Caution Areas.

  5. Shorten bear baiting & hound training season to one month before kill season.

Email your comments to:

DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov 

Stage is Set for DNR to Make Changes to Wisconsin’s Bear Baiting Practices…But Will They?

While the WDNR’s Revised Draft Bear Management Plan public comment period is open, Wolf Patrol will be sharing comments written by crew members and supporters. We would like to remind everyone (you don’t have to be a Wisconsin resident!) to submit their own comments:

Link to WDNR’s Revised Draft Bear Plan & other information:

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/bearmanagement.html

Send Your Comments:

DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov

 

Black Bear @ Inactive Bait

Habituated bear visiting empty bear bait site in Bayfield County, Wisconsin June 2017.

Public Comments on 2019-2029 Draft Revised Bear Management Plan.

Dear Members of the Wisconsin DNR Bear Advisory Committee,

Thank you for your time and effort in reviewing public comments relating to bear management practices in Wisconsin. Your commitment in protecting our natural resources is essential in maintaining a balance in wildlife and assuring those who enjoy recreational opportunities in the state are assured a fair use of our public lands whether national, state or county-owned property.

Bear hunting season is an interesting season to say the least, especially for those who live in bear territory. I realize bear hunting in Wisconsin attracts hunters from many various states, not to mention the numerous bear hunters who already reside here. I also understand license revenue is important; however, there seems to be some management practices that could use major adjustments but are ignored from year to year.

NIK SEILENBINDER HOUND TRUCK

How a Wisconsin bear hunter spends a quiet day in the woods.

For instance, bears aren’t a nuisance until bear bait stations are placed in April, which is nearly 145-days prior to bear hunting season. Bears don’t require a baiting season from April thru September to lure them to specific sites so hunters have an easy kill. Bait sites are unregulated and hunters have unlimited usage to where and how many bear bait sites they are allowed.

Sixty-four bear bait sites were counted in about a three-mile range from Diamond Roof Road heading east near Langlade, Wisconsin. Sites are often uncovered or over-baited with little to no enforcement. I’ve caught hunters traveling on ATV’s with bait through the Nicolet National Forest, off-trail to their bear bait stations. Why can’t Wisconsin require a 2-3 per person limit on bear bait stations? Michigan requires permits and allows baiting 30-days prior to the first day of bear hunting season.

BUDHA BEAR BAIT

Chocolate loaded bear bait from Craigslist ad for Budha Bear Bait in Pelican Lake, Wisconsin, March 2019.

Additionally, overdosing bears with sweets including toxic ingredients such as chocolate and xylitol is not responsible. They become habituated to human junk food which is not a natural food source. I have noted the “warning” concerning chocolate in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Bear Hunting Regulations; however, toxic ingredients should be “banned”. Besides, bears are not the only wildlife that feasts on toxic bait. This includes all canines and felines.

CHOC SYRUP

Chocolate syrup sold as bear bait by the 55-gallon drum by Budha Bear Bait, Pelican Lake, Wisconsin.

I also believe there should be sections of national forests that do not allow bear baiting and hound training, so silent sport enthusiasts can enjoy public lands. For example, bird migration begins for some species during the summer baiting & training period and while I provide data to Wisconsin Society for Ornithology/Bird Breeding Atlas and photograph species, it becomes an issue in specific areas when hunters are baiting and hounds are running unsupervised invading studies. This issue also occurs on my private property where many times loose hounds stick around and swim in the lake because they are overheated and/or hassle visiting guests, my dog and I.

LAONA HOUNDER IN HOODIE

Laona, Wisconsin hound hunter complaining to Forest County Sheriff’s deputy about Wolf Patrol monitoring their hunt on public roads, January 2018.

If a goal of the bear management plan is to minimize or eliminate bear/human conflicts then it certainly sets the stage to make changes to baiting and hounding policies. This includes hunter/resident conflicts. Residents will not put up with being bullied by trespassers on private property whether they are bear hounds and/or bear hunters.

Bear hounds are a problem. Bear hunters are a problem. Calling enforcement and trying to keep unruly trespassers on the premises while waiting for police to arrive is impossible. Removing tracking collars from trespassing hounds and waiting for hunters to retrieve them is one way to warn hunters to stay off private lands but rather risky.

NICHOLAS VALENTA PHOTO 4

Wisconsin’s bear hunters operate in groups with multiple trucks loaded with GPS-collared packs of dogs, leaving the bear little chance of escape.

I suggest the WDNR meet with enforcement officials and recommend an increase in fines for trespassing as each county has their own charges and double the fine for repeated offenders. Currently, the fines are not substantial. WDNR should have record of offenders and perhaps after 3-repeated offenses, revoke their hunting license.

Another way to eliminate other bear/human conflicts would be to shorten hound training season which is already too long especially during the heat of the summer. Also, reduce conflicts in designated WDNR Wolf Caution Areas by banning bear baiting & hound training/hunting in those areas.

Trespass Hounders FB

Sawyer County, Wisconsin bear hunters blocking public roads and looking for hounds on private property, October 2017.

In summary, I’d like to see the modifications noted below to the 2019-2029 Draft Revised Bear Management Plan:

  1. Reduce bear baiting season to 30-days prior to the hunt.
  2. Register and reduce baiting stations to 2/3 per hunter. Group baiting/hunting: 1/per                            person.
  3. Reduce bear training season to 30-days prior to the hunt and limit training sessions to six hounds.
  4. Recommend increase in bear hound/hunter trespassing violations on private property.
  5. Ban bear baiting and hound training in designated WDNR wolf caution areas. Perhaps create a buffer zone.
  6. Ban bear baiting and bear hounding/hunting in some areas specifically near sections of rivers, streams and lakes for silent sport users and especially private properties abutting the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (unless the hunter resides in vicinity.)
  7. Ban toxic ingredients in all bear baits and enforce. Producer of bear bait should be monitored and/or labels of ingredients supplied to WDNR and approved or simply ban baiting.
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Wisconsin hounder checking baits in WDNR Wolf Caution Area, July 2017.

I hope you respect my concerns and will consider the comments I’ve made being a Wisconsin resident living and working in and near the national forests, and someone who has witnessed bear hunters and their hounds’ behavior. While private properties and roads are well marked with appropriate signage, safety and proper management practices and enforcement should be policy to eliminate what could easily turn into more dangerous conflicts. It is the WDNR’s responsibility to take action. Thank you.

Kindly,

Resident: Town of Wolf River

(for fear of retribution from bear hunters, this citizen has requested that their name be protected–WP)

ANGRY MN HOUNDER II

Non-resident bear hound trainer drunkenly request that Wolf Patrol surrender video footage from July 2017 encounter during bear hound training season in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Bear Hunting Not What You Think

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Bear hunters running dogs in a August 2018 Wolf Caution Area in Burnett County.

Laura Menefree’s article first appeared in “It’s Our Nature Vol. 19 Issue 1” the newsletter of the Fox Valley Sierra Group of the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club 

I accompanied Wolf Patrol, a wildlife advocacy group, during the 2018 Wisconsin black bear hunt which ended October 10th. 4,500 bears were taken, most with the aid of bait, hunting hounds, or both. We patrolled Forest County Wolf Caution Areas (WCAs) in known wolf territory posted by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) where wolf/dog conficts, usually fatal, occurred. We documented active bear baits and continued hounding activities in WCAs. We spoke with hounders who agreed to be video taped. rough radio and visual contact, staying well away from active hunts, we monitored hound operators.

BLOODY BEARPAW

Photo posted on Facebook by guide/outfitter operating in Florence County, September 2018.

None of it was what I expected.

In 2016, 34% of bears were taken with the aid of hounds. Wisconsin regulations state no “pack” of hounds may exceed 6 in number while in pursuit of a bear. is rule does not apply during training season, July 1 through August 31. Neither do shooting hours nor licensing, as Wisconsin eliminated the Class B license in 2015, allowing unlicensed operators to run dogs on bears, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, during the hottest eight weeks of the year. e regulations do not de ne how many “packs” of dogs may pursue a bear at one time.

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Unregistered active bear baits in 2018 WDNR Wolf Caution Area in Forest County.

 

At the hunting season close, we monitored a group with a total of 10 hounds in pursuit of one bear. They expressed repeated confusion regarding the number of dogs “on the ground” once the bear was treed. Not all operators were in visual, or “line of sight” contact with all of their dogs at any one time. Dogs are tracked via GPS collars.

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Hound hunters conversing with Wolf Patrol monitors in Forest County, September 2018.

Hounders we spoke with expressed concern that “large groups are able to [maintain] more bait sites than small groups. e large groups keep 100 or so baits, which is maybe overkill,” they conceded. Bait sites near highways are favored, as hounders drive with one of their dogs on top of the “box” – a crate loaded in the back of a pickup truck – to “scent.” en the operator turns the dogs loose – typically right along a highway, but also on county and Forest Service roads. Hounders have been documented illegally blocking highways and private roads during a hunt.

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Looking for a bear’s scent in 2018 Wolf Caution Area in Burnett County.

WDNR defends baiting as a means to “determine age class and gender.” Nevertheless, the mean age of male bears “harvested” in Wisconsin for 2017 was 2.4 years of age, 3.7 years for females. 59% of the total are 1-2 years old. “Bait sitters” observe the frequency of “hits” to their bait sites, and the size of the bears “hitting” them, using sign at the site and trail cams. Bait is supposed to be inaccessible to other wildlife species, but wolves, deer, martins and many other species are documented at bait sites.

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Bait typically consists of junk food: cake mix, donuts, jelly, canned fruit, pretzels, cooking grease, marshmallows, cookies, frosting and candy. Chocolate, a known toxin to canids and felids, is “discouraged,” but not illegal in Wisconsin. Only meat is restricted, but suppliers sell products that smell like meat. Five million gallons of bait are placed in Wisconsin annually, baiters voluntarily reported in 2014.

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One of the many Wisconsin companies selling toxic to wildlife food waste as bear bait.

Bears become habituated to human-provided food sources. In 2017, 747 nuisance bear complaints resulted in 373 bears being relocated from “problem areas,” usually within close proximity to active baits. 585 bears were relocated in 2016. In 2016, 47 Agricultural, or crop damage, permits resulted in the killing of 118 bears.

Hounders we spoke with expressed their belief that “without hunting [black bear] with dogs, the population would explode.” Nevertheless, the population is doing just that, in spite of the WDNR “harvest goal” of 5,000 bears from the estimated population of 28,700. WDNR analysis determines Wisconsin black bears obtain over 40% of their caloric intake from bait, contributing to increased litter sizes.

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An exposed bear bait in 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area in Sawyer County.

Since 2015 tag holders register their kill electronically. ey are required to mail in a tooth sample for age and sex classi cation. While it is illegal to kill a sow with cubs, there is no enforcement of this. Neither is the tooth sample requirement enforced: a post card reminder is sent, with no further action taken, according to Scott Walter, WDNR Large Carnivore Specialist. 375 samples remained uncollected upon publication of the 2016 report.

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Once the bear is treed, the operators contact the “shooter,” the person holding the bear tag, who has arranged with an operator or club to have a bear treed, so they can shoot it. On this occasion, the shooter was not onsite. It took an hour for her to show up to shoot the bear out of the tree. There are no studies estimating the number of cubs orphaned annually by hound training and hunting.

Laura Menefee – Conservation Writer, Nature Photographer October 22, 2018 – Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin

You can send your comments on Wisconsin’s new bear management plan by April 14, 2019:

DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov

WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee…a Rubber Stamp for Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association?

The following are written comments submitted by Wolf Patrol’s campaigns director, Rod Coronado to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Bear Advisory Committee in response to the 21-day comment period for the Revised Draft Bear Management Plan, which closes April 14, 2019.

Since 2014, Wolf Patrol has been investigating and monitoring bear hunting practices that create conflicts with gray wolves in Wisconsin. Our citizen monitors have visited over 32 WDNR designated Wolf Caution Areas, where wolves have depredated bear hounds, and over 90% of these areas were inundated with unregistered bear baits used by hound hunters to draw bears close to roads where their hounds can pick up their scent.

DRAG

Illegal drag used by bear hunter in 2016 WDNR Wolf Caution Area.

The 2019-2029 Revised Draft Bear Management Plan fails to recommend even minimal changes to bear baiting and hound training practices that it recognizes are cause for great concern. Has the WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee become just another sub-group of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association? You read the draft bear plan and then tell WDNR…

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Hunt/documents/BearPlanFinalDraft.pdf

SEND YOUR COMMENTS: DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov

WOLVES AT BAIT

Wolves visiting a bear bait in Wisconsin during the 2016 two-month bear hound training season.

Public Comments on 2019-2029 Draft Revised Bear Management Plan

Dear Members of theWisconsin DNR Bear Advisory Committee,

I would like to first thank all of you for the hard work and dedication you have put into this revised bear plan, such an effort demonstrates your commitment to fulfill the DNR’s mission to protect and enhance our natural resources, which includes black bears as well as so much other wildlife in Wisconsin. While I am not a Wisconsin resident, I have spent much of my life hiking, camping and exploring the many national forests in this country. The last five years that I have spent exploring Wisconsin’s national forests have left me feeling very concerned about the future of Wisconsin’s wildlife.

I grew up hunting in California, including for bear, but none of what I saw as a youth hunting can compare to bear hunting practices I’ve witnessed for five years now in mostly the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Contrary to what others think, I am not opposed to hunting, including the hunting of bears and even wolves. But regardless of the species, I’ve always believed that hunters should only ever bring benefits to wildlife, not negative impacts that also effect other wildlife as well.

COMMENTS 2

Non-resident hounds baying a Wisconsin bear during the 2017 two-month summer bear hound training season.

In the fall of 2014, I began exploring and investigating both wolf and bear hunting practices in Wisconsin. By the following summer in 2015, I was exploring areas of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest where wolves were reportedly fighting, killing and eating bear hunting hounds in increasing numbers. It didn’t take long to figure out that wherever depredations of bear hounds was occuring, especially in summer months, was also where bear hunters were baiting bears and running hounds.

COMMENTS 1

Bear hound/wolf fights 2013-18 in Bayfield County alone…the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association might as well sell tickets…

Wolf Patrol’s own response to the increased wolf predation on bear hounds was to get as close as we could to the actual depredation sites once they were reported by WDNR, and then begin to count the number of bear baits in the immediate area. After personally investigating over 28 bear hound depredation sites, I think only twice did we NOT find bear baits in the immediate area.

I have also personally reported dozens of bear baiting violations to WDNR, many of these were again discovered because we were investigating wolf depredations on bear hounds. I’ve also seen hundreds of bear baits that were in compliance with WDNR regulations, but I’ve never understood how there could be virtually no limits on the number of baits a person could maintain. I want to keep my comments directed towards bear baiting and hound training specifically, although I will comment on wolf depredations that occur during the kill season as well.

TINY BEAR

Small bear killed in 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Are by Bayfield County hounder.

Part of the stated program goal of the bear management plan is to minimize bear and human conflicts.

Such conflicts are not only between bears and humans, but bear hunter’s dogs and other wildlife, and people as well. When wolves kill bear hounds, bear hunters want to kill wolves. That is a conflict that should be prevented if at all possible, and it is, only nothing is offered in the revised plan other than further research and development of outreach tools. Maps and flyers are not what are needed, but real tangible action to limit bear hunting activity like baiting and hounding in areas where wolves are killing bear hounds.

I’ve heard it said that legislative action would be necessary to limit any kind of hunting activity, but for the WDNR to suggest no action in response to what has become the annual slaughter of bear hounds by wolves in Wisconsin is irresponsible and not in keeping with the mission of the DNR to protect and enhance our natural resources.

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Four bears feeding at Wisconsin bear bait during bear hound training season.

Five specific objectives are identified in the revised bear plan as program goals, and Objective E in particular is of great concern, which is “Identify important information needs and conduct research as necessary to address issues impacting black bears and hunting opportunity in Wisconsin”

As is later echoed throughout the revised bear plan, conducting research on the impacts of baiting bears from April to October with an unlimited and unknown number of baits clearly sounds like a priority. I counted 14 times within the revised plan when mention was made of possible negative impacts related to Wisconsin’s bear baiting practices, but not once is there any suggestion to limit or even register bear baits.

BEAR EATING DONUTS

Bear eating donuts at a Wisconsin bear bait site during 2014 bear hound training season.

Much is spoken about the documented and proven dangers of theobromine poisoning that can occur when bears and other animals ingest chocolate contained in bear baits, but there is a failure to suggest banning toxic ingredients in bear bait like chocolate and xylitol, and that is contrary to the stated mission of WDNR. More research is needed, but not before responsible action by WDNR to limit the feeding of toxins to bears and other wildlife.

BAITS IN WCA

Documented bear baits in 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area in Bayfield County,  Wisconsin.

 

Evaluating methods for reducing wolf depredation of hounds is another part of Objective E and the entire plan that is hollow of any real action. As I stated earlier, educating bear hunters about WDNR Wolf Caution Areas will not reduce depredations, limiting baiting and hounding in those areas will.

While the WDNR’s Gray Wolf website with information on depredation is a valuable resource, it alone is not enough. Let me give this example. Currently, WDNR is suggesting no new action to address the annual slaughter of what is estimated to be 19 hunting dogs by wolves this year. Accepting this conflict with bear hunters and wolves is again a contraction of the bear plans objective to “minimize bear human conflicts.”

WATER HOUND

Wolf Patrol monitor watering hound wandering 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

In regards to the lack of any recommended action to curtail or limit what is admittedly an unlimited bear baiting season, I just want to say that such absence of responsibility stinks of the influence that certain members of the WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee have on the WDNR’s ability to maintain its mission.

For organizations responsible for stated dangers and threats to Wisconsin’s bear population, like the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA), to make no recommendation to limit their members baiting or hounding activities, makes me believe that the Bear Advisory Committee is nothing more than a rubber stamp for anything bear hunters want to do in Wisconsin.

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Wolves at bear bait in 2018 WDNR Wolf Caution Area, Sawyer County, Wisconsin.

For example, its a proud fact of the WBHA that the B license requirement was removed in 2016, virtually throwing the barn door open to any hound hunter anywhere who wants to train their dogs to chase bears in Wisconsin, no license required. On page 18 of the revised bear plan, mention is made of research on six radio-collared bears that were chased during the hound training season, but there is no way to quantifying how many hound hunters from Wisconsin and other states are baiting or running dogs in the training season, since the removal of the B license requirement.

In addition, there is no acknowledgement that hound hunters from North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and other states regularly haul dogs to Wisconsin to be trained in the summer bear hound training season. Wolf Patrol monitors numerous hound hunting pages on Facebook, and every year hunters who run their dogs on hogs and deer in their own home states annually travel to Wisconsin to train dogs as well. There is mention however of the threat of disease transmission by bear hounds from affected states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, yet no recommendation of a system to regulate hound hunters from those states.

BO WOOD

This non-resident, Bo Wood was indicted in 2018 on multiple felony counts of animal cruelty in Florida and regularly trained hounds in Wisconsin.

 

For five years now, I have observed how black bears and wolves are managed in Wisconsin. And while I have much criticism of bear hunting practices, I still believe there is a way that bear hunting could be sustainable and culturally acceptable. But not without improvements to the way bears are hunted in Wisconsin. If I was speaking solely for myself, I’d be submitting a much shorter comment, simply asking that all bear baiting and hound hunting be banned on public lands. But that’s not realistic. What I believe is realistic is to make a comment that recommends action within the realm of possibility and fairness.

KETTLEWELL HOUND 7.30.17 A

A Wisconsin bear chased during the 2017 bear hound training season.

In closing, I would like to make five recommendations that I believe begin to address objectives identified as priorities in the WDNR’s revised bear management plan while also serving to fulfill the stated mission of the WDNR:

  1. Require registration & limit to bear bait sites.
  2. Prohibit the use of chocolate and xylitol in bear baits.
  3. Require license for non-resident bear hound training & baiting.
  4. Prohibit bear baiting & hound training in WDNR Wolf Caution Areas.
  5. Shorten bear baiting & hound training season to one month before kill season.

As I have stated to the Bear Advisory Committee before, what Wolf Patrol and many Wisconsin citizens want is the responsible management of the black bear population, which includes the management of bear hunting practices where there isn’t any. What we are asking is for bear hunters to be more responsible, so that their sport does not negatively impact others.

Thank you for accepting my comments on the 2019-2029 Bear Management Plans,

Rod Coronado

KETTLEWELL HOUND 8.2.14

Wisconsin bear hound killed and eaten by wolves in 2016.

 

14 Days to Comment on Wisconsin’s Horrendous Bear Baiting, Hunting & Hound Training Practices

 

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is seeking public comments on the 2019-2029 Black Bear Management Plan recently revised by the Bear Advisory Committee (BAC). Comments can be submitted until midnight April 14, 2019. The WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee is comprised almost solely of bear hunters with many of the same people as members of the WDNR’s Wolf Advisory Committee.

Wolf Patrol has attended the BAC’s annual meetings in recent years and seen first hand how trophy hunting organizations like Safari Club International and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association set the agenda for any public policy on wolf and bear management in the state of Wisconsin. Its time to voice your opposition before its too late!

BO WOOD 12.9.12

A regular visitor to Wisconsin, this bear hunter is currently facing multiple felonies for illegal bear hunting practices in Florida.

While the revised management plan references public concerns with unlimited bear baiting and the annual depredation of bear hounds by wolves, it offers no real remedies other than to study the problem and increase public acceptance for bear baiting and hound hunting as an integral part of bear hunting in Wisconsin.

A major shortfall in the WDNR’s revised Black Bear Management Plan is any recommended action to address Wisconsin’s extremely liberal bear baiting season and regulations. This despite the repeated acknowledgement that 40% of a northern Wisconsin bear’s diet is comprised of artificially fed bait and that the chocolate used in Wisconsin’s bear baits is toxic to bears and other wildlife.

FROM THE REVISED BLACK BEAR MANAGEMENT PLAN:

“Hunting regulations allow for the baiting of black bears. Unfortunately, much of what we know about the health effects of food items utilized as bait is based on simple observation or research studies on domestic animals. Research on the specific effects of items normally used as bait on wildlife species, including black bears, is generally lacking. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that bears are susceptible to the toxic effects of chemicals found in chocolate. Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire have all identified theobromine in dead bear cubs at levels consistent with those known to be toxic to dogs.” (page 40)

BAC 2

Chocolate cookies in a Wisconsin bear bait in a 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area.

“Currently, it is legal to bait bears with chocolate in Wisconsin. Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound known to be toxic to a wide diversity of wildlife species, including black bears. Chocolate consumed at bait sites has caused the deaths of one black bear cub in Michigan and 2 cubs, one subadult female, and one adult female in New Hampshire. Theobromine toxicity was also the presumptive cause of death for one cub (Bayfield County), and the probable cause of death for 2 other cubs (Washburn County), submitted for necropsy in Wisconsin in 2011. In response to concerns about theobromine toxicity, Wisconsin has included a warning about the toxic effects of chocolate in the Bear Hunting Regulations since 2013, and no mortalities due to theobromine toxicosis have been verified since.

However, undetected mortality may be occurring, theobromine can have sublethal impacts on bear health, and impacts on other species that may ingest chocolate at bear baits have not been examined in Wisconsin. Gathering data on the amount and type of chocolate in bear baits and documenting potential mortality and health impacts for black bears and other wildlife constitutes an important research objective.” (page 19)

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A Wisconsin bear baiter preparing his bait.

While the WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee fails to make any recommended change to Wisconsin’s bear baiting regulations, it argues that there is a lack of scientific evidence on any negative impact of baiting on a bear’s reproductive cycle as well as on other wildlife, and that the subject warrants further research.

 

“Recent research has indicated that supplemental food provided by bear and deer hunters (“bait”) accounts for 40% or more of the black bear diet in northern Wisconsin. As supplemental feeding of bears has been documented to alter bear activity patterns, movements and reproduction, and may increase levels of human-bear conflict, further research on the impacts of baiting on black bears in Wisconsin is warranted.” (page 3)

“Recent evidence that a high proportion of the black bear diet in northern Wisconsin is composed of supplemental food (i.e., bear and deer baits) and the stability of this food source across years raises the possibility that supplemental food may be decoupling annual black bear reproductive measures from variation in the abundance of natural foods. Better understanding the demographic impacts of bait on Wisconsin’s black bear population would be an important area for future research.” (page 4)

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The chocolate filled bear bait in a 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area.

“In Wisconsin, baiting for deer and bear hunting provides high-calorie foods from mid-April up to the denning period, though the impact of this supplemental food on movements and habitat use has not been evaluated.” (page 5) 

“…While no evidence exists that current baiting regulations are causing health issues for black bears, or influencing population dynamics, potential effects should be investigated to both protect bear health and provide accurate information (e.g., average litter size) for population models.” (page 19)

“…no obvious inferences can be made between current baiting practices and bear nuisance activity. Clarifying the potential impact of current baiting practices on nuisance bear activity is a potential area for further research.” (page 19)

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Wolves feeding from northern Wisconsin bear bait in 2018.

 

Following all of the above-mentioned pronouncements by WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee, the revised bear plan defends the lack of limits on bear baiting and hound training and offers no changes, despite acknowledging the scientifically proven negative impacts of feeding bears and other wildlife.

“The harvest season is preceded by periods during which hunters are allowed to establish and maintain bait sites (beginning 15 April and running through the harvest season) and train hounds (July 1st– August 31st) each year. These periods are longer than similar baiting or dog training periods in other states where baiting and/or the use of hounds is legal, and the public has periodically expressed concern about the potential impacts of these activities. In addition, there is no limit on the number of bait sites hunters may maintain, though individual bait sites may contain no more than 10 gallons of bait… (page 18)

…Public concern about Wisconsin’s liberal baiting regulations focuses on 4 potential impacts: 1) the high availability of calorie-rich processed foods may have health impacts for bears and other wildlife species, 2) acclimation to supplemental foods provided by humans may increase nuisance issues, 3) theobromine contained in chocolate is known to be toxic to bears and other wildlife species, and 4) baiting may increase wolf depredation of hounds… (page 18)

Regardless, bait does constitute a high proportion of the black bear diet in Wisconsin, and diets high in sugar and complex carbohydrates can lead to several health issues for other mammal species, including increased blood glucose, high blood pressure, heart disease, altered function of the liver and pancreas, and altered composition of the gut microbial community” (Lindsey Long, WDNR State Veterinarian, personal communication). (page 18)

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2013-2018 Wolf depredations on hunting hounds in red.

The revised Bear Management Plan also lacks any real action to address the conflict bear hunters create when their baiting attracts wolves and they run their dogs in active wolf territory where it is likely that they will be depredated. Instead, WDNR’s Bear Advisory Committee states the following:

 

“While the link between baiting and wolf depredation on hounds therefore remains unclear, promoting current (e.g., depredation caution areas) and developing new (e.g., using trail cameras to monitor wolf activity near bait sites) tools to minimize hound-wolf contact will be beneficial.” (page 19)

“Evaluate methods for reducing hound depredations by wolves and educate hunters about means to minimize wolf – hound encounters. Wolves were responsible for the deaths of 19 hounds per year, on average, from 2008 – 2017, with a high of 41 hounds killed in 2017. Evaluating current (e.g., wolf caution areas) and new means of reducing wolf– hound encounters would be beneficial. Educating hunters about means of identifying wolf use in their hunting area (e.g., trail cameras on bait sites), as well as continuing to promote wolf caution area maps likely provide the best opportunities to minimize encounters and protect hounds.” (page 56)

Unfortunately, educating bear hunters and promoting online maps is NOT the best way to minimize deadly conflicts with wolves, restricting bear hunters from continuing to bait and run dogs in Wisconsin’s Wolf Caution Areas and denying financial compensation after a depredation occurs would be a much more effective measure.

TPP11

A non-resident bear hound trainer challenges Wolf Patrol monitor to a fight in 2017.

 

In addition, no attempt was made by WDNR or the BAC to quantify the impact of Wisconsin’s two-month Summer bear hound training season, when anyone, resident or non-resident, can bait for bears and run their dogs. According to WDNR, only 11% of licensed bear hunters train their dogs during the training season, meaning most hound trainers are non-residents bringing their dogs from other states to chase bears in Wisconsin. Most depredation of bear hounds occurs in the Summer training season.

Another concern expressed but not addressed in the revised plan is the threat of Sarcoptic mange in black bears which can be transmitted by mites that travel on bear hounds entering Wisconsin from Pennsylvania and Virginia. There are virtually no restrictions on bear hounds from these states being allowed to chase bears every Summer in Wisconsin.

“Develop outreach documents for hunters, to educate them about existing or potential health threats…Material should include a warning to hound hunters that hunt in other states (e.g., Pennsylvania or West Virginia) that the mite causing scabies-associated bear mortality in Pennsylvania can survive and be introduced to Wisconsin on hunting dogs.” (page 48)

HOUNDZ

Non-resident bear baiter/hounder during Wisconsin’s bear hound training season.

The revised plan also cites a study whereby radio-collared bears where monitored after having been chased during the Summer bear hound training season, yet no statistics are available on the actual number of hound hunters training bear dogs in the Summer since there is no license required to train bear hounds in Wisconsin since the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) lobbied successfully to have the requirement removed in 2016.

“While this (above-mentioned study) suggests that hound training and hunting activities do not have significant impacts on bear health in Wisconsin, additional study is needed to verify these conclusions.” (page 18)

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Non-resident hounder operating in 2017 WDNR Wolf Caution Area.

The use of bait and dogs to hunt bears in Wisconsin makes hunter success rates high and allows WDNR to rely on hunters as an effective bear management tool. The only problem is that bear hunting practices in Wisconsin aren’t only impacting black bears, they’re causing conflicts with people, wolves and other wildlife. In this revised plan, WDNR and special interest groups like the WBHA and Safari Club International are more concerned with the public’s negative opinion of hound hunting and bear baiting, than with addressing the conflicts bear hunters create on mostly public lands.

NIK SEILENBINDER 08.27.17

Wisconsin bear hunters and hound in 2017.

“Current harvest methods, including baiting and trailing with dogs, allow both high hunter selectivity and success, and have allowed quotas to be regularly achieved in most zones. Hunting, inclusive of bait and dogs, should be maintained both for the population management capabilities and nature-based recreational opportunity it provides.” (page 44)

“Support development of ethical guidelines for hound hunting and develop outreach tools to increase the public’s understanding of current harvest methods. Public antipathy toward hound hunting may engender campaigns or legislative efforts to curtail or eliminate the activity; this antipathy often arises in response to illegal or unethical behavior by a minority of hound hunters- especially if this behavior is communicated on social media.” (page 44)

REIVITIS POSING THIS ONE! 3.18.14

A Wisconsin hounder selfie with live coyote.

 

“WDNR staff should support current partner-driven efforts to develop and promote guidelines for the safe and ethical use of hounds to pursue black bears. These guidelines will both promote responsible behavior on the part of current and new hunters and provide an effective tool to educate the public about hound hunting. Additional outreach tools should be considered that provide an honest and factual depiction of bear hunting and highlight its numerous social, economic, and management benefits.” (page 44)

Clearly, Wolf Patrol is responsible for much of the backlash experienced by bear hunters in Wisconsin as we continue to highlight hunting practices that are not only unethical, but often illegal. You only need to scroll through this website to see the reason why improving the public image of Wisconsin’s hound hunters is an objective of the WDNR’s revised bear management plan. But what’s really necessary is strong action on the part of Wolf Patrol’s supporters, reminding WDNR that its not only bear hunters interests they should be concerned about!

KETTLEWELL BEAR 7.14.18

A Wisconsin bear bayed during the summer hound training season in 2017.

Wolf Patrol’s Recommended Changes to 2019-2029 Revised Black Bear Management Plan

  • Require registration & limit of bear baits.

  • Prohibit the use of chocolate and xylitol in bear baits.

  • Require license for non-resident bear baiting & hound training.

  • Prohibit bear baiting & hound training in active WDNR Wolf Caution Areas.

  • Shorten bear baiting & hound training season to one month before kill season.

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    $25 worth of old Hostess products used for bear bait.

 

The revised bear management plan specifically cites a need for further research and data on the impact of bear baiting. Currently, WDNR has no means to quantify the number of bear baits used annually by hunters other than through occasional surveys. Requiring registration and limiting the number of baits an individual can use, allows resource managers and conservation officers the ability to monitor and measure the impact of bear baiting in Wisconsin.

Banning the use of known toxins such as theobromine and xylitol in artificial feed given to bears and subsequently, other wildlife is the most effective and proven method to address poisoning in bears and other canids. Prohibiting the use of chocolate and xylitol would put Wisconsin more in line with other states such as Michigan which recently banned the use of chocolate in bear bait.

BRANDON PAGEL 01.08.15

Bear hound injured in wolf depredation in 2018.

The revised bear management plan also states the need for data on bear baiting and hound training in the summer months, which is essential to quantify the number of non-residents participating in bear baiting and hound training activities. Such data can only be collected through a reliable registration or licensing system. The increased threat of introduction of disease by bear hounds traveling from Pennsylvania and Virginia also warrants greater regulation of non-resident bear hound trainers and baiters.

Once the depredation of a bear hound by a wolf has occurred, WDNR establishes Wolf Caution Areas in an effort to prevent further depredations. Unfortunately, many bear hunters will continue to bait and run dogs in areas with recent depredations, often leading to further depredations. The simplest way to address these preventable conflicts is to place limits on bear baiting and hound running once a depredation has occurred and a Wolf Caution Area established.

CB3 BEAR 8.11.18

According to the revised bear management plan, A survey of bear hunters in 2014 suggested that 97.3% of hunters had not yet initiated baiting activities by May 1st. Only by August 9th (less than one month prior to the harvest season) had 75% of hunters that utilized bait begun baiting. Thus, shortening the baiting & hound training season to one month before the kill season would impact less than 25% of bear hunters while also helping mitigate the large number of bear hound depredations that occur in summer months.

If you agree with Wolf Patrol that its time to reign in Wisconsin’s bear hunters and limit baiting and hounding practices that are causing conflicts with people, wolves and wildlife, send your comments to WDNR before midnight, April 14, 2019:

DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov

DEAD BEAR ON BOX

To read the complete Revised Black Bear Management Plan:

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Hunt/documents/BearPlanFinalDraft.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

$1000 REWARD for Information on Who’s Poisoning Wildlife & Dogs in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

POISON COON

A Raccoon recently killed by suspected poison near Pine River, Wisconsin 03/20/19.

Wolf Patrol is offering a $1000 cash reward to anyone who comes forward with information on the identity of the individual(s) responsible for placing suspected poison along the Pine River in Florence County, Wisconsin. The suspected illegal bait has been on the ground since December, but with thawing temperatures the bait has become lethal to dogs and wildlife.

Setting out poison in the national forest is a federal offense and Wolf Patrol will be aggressively investigating this incident in our effort to catch those responsible and see them punished to the fullest extent of the law.

If you have ANY information on who might be responsible, please call Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Violation Hotline:

1-800-847-9367

BO & JERE

Bo & Jere…innocent victims killed by poison in March 2019.

Below is the account from the individual who’s two dogs were killed by the bait:

“I had my 2 dogs die within 8 days, both after a walk down to the Pine River from my cabin on Lost Lake road. Since December or early January I had noticed an unidentifiable mass that my dogs were curious about. It was frozen and I was always able to get it away from them and place it out of their reach. I truly thought it was some frozen organ of a dead animal.

On March 8th, after a walk to the river and back with our 23 month old English Springer Spaniel, Bo began to seizure. We attempted to get to the vet clinic in Iron Mountain but he died in our arms in the most horrific manner unfit for any living being before we got there. All dogs are special and Family. Bo was no exception.

8 days later I took my nearly 14 year old, FC Dansmirths Jerebere on the same walk. On the return from the river to the camp he began to seizure. I carried him the last mile to camp and rushed to the vet clinic. Although he survived the trip to the clinic we decided to put him down. The necropsy report on Bo was negative. We were initially led to believe it was an abnormal heart.

When that was proven to not be accurate I immediately thought of the unidentifiable mass. I went back to the road we walked today and saw the mass and a dead raccoon. Some so called anti wolf sportsman in their efforts to kill wolves killed my dogs in the middle of the National Forest. Please share this and just maybe the identity of who may have done this will be revealed.”

REPORT VIOLATIONS

Wisconsin Wants to Hound, Trap & Shoot Wolves This Fall…Comments on Removing Federal Protections Needed Now

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Wolf killed by WI hound hunters 12/14

Once again, opponents of the return of the gray wolf from the brink of extinction to their rightful place on the American landscape are proposing that federal protections for the animals in the Great Lakes region and other states be removed. The latest call for delisting from protections under the Endangered Species Act would mean a return to the use of hounds, traps and guns in Wisconsin as a “management method” to control wolf populations.

Hounders previously monitored by Wolf Patrol brandish their trophy, collected south of Clear Lake, WI on 12/03/14.

Nowhere else in America is it legal to run down wolves with dogs…except in Wisconsin! Which is a very good reason to oppose federal delisting and a return to state controlled management of gray wolves in the state, where approximately 1,000 wolves roam the northwoods.

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Red dot = gray wolf/hunting dog fights 2013-18 (WDNR).

Another good reason for not lifting federal protections is because the Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources has failed to act to prevent the annual gray wolf/hunting dog-fighting season which begins every July when thousands of unregulated hounds are released in Wisconsin wolf country to chase bears.

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Ever since the return of wolves to Wisconsin, a conflict has erupted between bear hunters baiting and training their hunting dogs, and wolves protecting young pups in the Summer months when they first leave their dens. Last year alone there were over 24 reported fights between wolves and hunting dogs in the state, the vast majority of dogs killed were bear hounds loosed on areas where wolves were known to be territorial.

NICKS WOLF

Wisconsin Hounder Ratt Dicks with 2013 wolf kill.

 

The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association is opposed to both federal protections for wolves and other proposed restrictions on predator killing contests in the state, because they want their members to be able to retaliate against wolves that have killed their dogs. During the last legal wolf hunts in Wisconsin in 2012-14, bear hunters legally obtained wolf tags and targeted entire packs for eradication from national forests and other public lands.

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Hounder with legally killed Wisconsin wolf, December 2014.

Wolves in Wisconsin need your help! Although they have been federally protected for the last four years, Wolf Patrol has documented the continued threats to wolf recolonization of suitable habitat, mostly caused by unethical bear hunting practices like baiting and dog training. We have also uncovered the culture amongst many Wisconsin hunters to promote and encourage the illegal killing of wolves.

koty-barth

Wisconsin bear hunter with anti-wolf bumperstickers, September 2016.

 

Please take a moment and send the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service your comments on why you believe Wisconsin should not be allowed to manage its recovering wolf population! The decision to once again allow Wisconsin hunters to run down wolves with dogs has yet to be made. We have just over 50 days to show the federal government all the reasons why states like Wisconsin should not be allowed to return to recreational hunting of a native apex predator still recovering from the brink of extinction.

Indigenous Wolf Hunt Protestors

The tribes have spoken…no more Wisconsin wolf hunts!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER YOUR COMMENT OPPOSED TO LIFTING FEDERAL WOLF PROTECTIONS IN WISCONSIN AND OTHER STATES!

http://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/03/15/2019-04420/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-removing-the-gray-wolf-canis-lupus