Please take a few minutes and send a comment to the US Forest Service asking them to end the practice of bear-baiting & hound hunting in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
It’s not hard to imagine why so many bear hounds are killed by wolves when you see how often hunting dogs get separated from their pack and handlers. This morning we found this old hound hanging around a bear bait site in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Drummond, which is active wolf territory. We got him watered and he was grateful and wanting into our truck! We stayed close with him until a hound hunter was able to retrieve him, for which he was grateful too, as this is how dogs like these bear hounds become wolf bait.
A typical hound hunting rig, fully equipped for monitoring bear hounds equipped with GPS collars. One of nine bear hunting trucks we’ve seen so far this morning…
Our patrol team have headed out into the Wisconsin woods for the opening of hound hunting bear season this morning. Check out this rough cut of a short doc on Wolf Patrol’s patrol in WI earlier this summer!
Today marks the beginning of bear hounding season in WI and wolves are going to be impacted by the number of dogs on the ground.
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MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday 8th September. Beginning September 9, 2015, Wolf Patrol will return to the northwoods of Wisconsin alongside hunters to document the outdated hunting practice of bear baiting and hunting bears with hounds. This will launch the fall campaign of Wolf Patrol, a citizen-activist monitoring project, to end bear baiting in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Crew members of Wolf Patrol from Wisconsin and Michigan will be available for comment during the hound hunt for bear on public lands until late September 2015. Documentation of the hound hunt for bear in Wisconsin will be posted daily on Wolf Patrol’s YouTube channel. The number one human/wolf conflict in Wisconsin is the killing of bear hunting hounds by wolves defending their families and feeding areas.
In Wisconsin, it is legal to artificially feed bears beginning in mid-April, and by the beginning of bear season in September, bears, wolves, deer and other animals have become conditioned to feed from bear baits. Bear baits are artificial feed stations where hunters are allowed to dump fryer grease, sugary baked goods, and food scraps in large piles so black bears feed there and can later more easily be shot.
Hound hunters are allowed to chase bears beginning July 1st, which is when many wolf packs are traveling with pups. Since July, nine bear hounds have been killed in northern Wisconsin according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Activists will be patrolling known bear baiting areas on public lands beginning in the predawn hours of opening days of the hunt, in an effort to document the practice of bear baiting and hound hunting as part of their campaign to end bear baiting and hound hunting in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
“We aren’t here to break any laws, we just believe that in Wisconsin, like every other national forest, you shouldn’t be allowed to feed the bears.” says founder of Wolf Patrol, Rod Coronado. There is no limit to the number of bear baits a hunter can maintain in Wisconsin. “Many of these bear baits on public lands are virtual oil spills where its legal to dump up to ten gallons of fryer grease.” says Coronado, “Baiting bears and running them down with GPS-equipped dogs through wolf territory isn’t hunting, it’s unethical, unsporting and should be illegal.”
Wolf Patrol’s campaign goals are:
- Delaying the start of bear-baiting season until September 1st, so gray wolves do not habituate to or defend bear-bait sites, causing unneeded conflict with hounds used by bear hunters.
- Banning bear-baiting, the intentional feeding of bears and other wildlife to lure them into one location, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
- Banning hound-hunting, the use of domestic dogs to hunt bears, wolves, coyotes and fox, in which hounds are used to find, chase, harass and kill wildlife on Wisconsin’s public lands.
When Wolf Patrol was in the field in July documenting bear baiting sites in Wisconsin, three of our patrol members were informed by a Polk County Deputy Sheriff that they would be cited for hunter harassment, due to a complaint from a hunter who was had issues with our presence in the field. The Deputy Sheriff did not have the statute number at the time, so told our patrol members to go to the courthouse the following day. There was no citation at the courthouse the next day, and no citations have been issued since.
We believe no citations have been issued in this case because of the lack of evidence that our patrol members were doing anything illegal. We will continue to adhere to relevant laws during our patrols, as we have since Wolf Patrol’s inception.
In 2013, Wolf Patrol launched their multi-state citizen-activist campaign to protect endangered gray wolves on public lands who were being delisted and subject to management by hunting under a variety of jurisdictions and rules even before these new populations were fully understood.
The 2014 Wolf Patrol campaign focused on documenting illegally set wolf traps the state-sanctioned wolf hunt in December that authorized the use of hounds to hunt wolves in northern Wisconsin. With gray wolves returned to protection under the Endangered Species Act in the upper Midwest December 2014, Wolf Patrol continues to investigate threats to the continued recovery of gray wolves in the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Wolf Patrol have been in Idaho recently and we want to show concerned citizens what they need to watch out for during trapping season. Many people go hiking with their pets, and you need to know what to look out for so that your pet does not get trapped and injured by one of these devices. Check out our new video that shows you how to find leg hold traps.
Each Summer thousands of sheep are released to freely graze public lands in wolf territory within the Sawtooth National Forest. This Summer, USDA’s Wildlife Services’ predator control activities virtually wiped out the entire Red Warrior pack which was blamed for killing two sheep and one cow calf, all with taxpayer funding so ranchers can graze their livestock on public lands. This video illustrates what the US Forest Service allows on our public lands, creating a situation where wildlife such as wolves are blamed for any livestock loss. Wild lands Defense and Wolf Patrol are opposed to the grazing of livestock on public lands.
Wolf Patrol Summary of Bear Baiting & Hound Training Activities in July 2015
In July, Wolf Patrol set out to gather information about Wisconsin’s bear hound training & baiting activities on public lands. Our focus was to learn more about the conflict that exists as a result of bear hunting hounds being trained in wolf habitat in early July when the predators’ are leaving their dens with new pups to areas known as “rendezvous sites” where their parents can teach them to hunt and explore their habitat. Last year in Wisconsin alone, over 25 hunting hounds were killed by wolves as they hunted or were trained on public lands.
Although bear hunting in Wisconsin does not begin until September 9th, it is legal in Wisconsin to begin baiting for bear in mid-April, and training bear hounds on July 1st, thus bear hunters through intentional feeding, are conditioning bears to behave in ways that are in the bear hunter’s own self interest. This is not only the opinion of Wolf Patrol, but the scientific findings published recently by researchers who investigated Wisconsin’s liberal bear hunting policies, comparing them to Michigan’s, where a much more regulated baiting season exists. What we found in our two weeks of on-the-ground investigations reinforces the findings of researcher Joseph Bump and others in, “Bear-Baiting May Exacerbate Wolf-Hunting Dog Conflict” published in 2013.
Early Summer is not only a time when bears and wolves are active, but other wildlife as well. The presence of “free-feeding” bait sites throughout bear habitat, means not only bears are influenced by these artificial feed sites, but other animals as well. Most notable in our findings was the presence of deer at bear bait locations. Deer and other animals are attracted by the calorie-rich foods placed in the field by bear hunters, and anywhere there are deer congregating, you can expect predators and other wildlife to gather as well. What we are witnessing is a “trophic cascade” whereby, bear hunters intentionally set out baits for bear, the bait becomes exposed, and other wildlife feeds from it, also contributing to predator attention to bear baiting sites.
One particular bait supplier, “Northwoods Bear Products” uses the by-line: “Turn Nocturnal Bears into Daytime Bears” taking pride in the fact that their artificial baits and lures cause bears to alter their natural behavior. Bear baiting is a big business in northern Wisconsin, where guides are able to “guarantee” that their clients will have the chance to shoot a bear, only because the animal has become conditioned to feed at an artificial feed site.
Another recent finding from researchers is that the artificial calorie-rich diet often provided in bear baits (chocolate, breads, candy, cookies, and other randomly-sourced sweets) is contributing to larger litter sizes amongst black bears fed from bait stations. Continue reading
Yesterday our crew was in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park sharing our spotting scopes with dozens of tourists from all over the world, watching 3 young wolves feeding on a bison carcass. To see the excitement in adults as well as children’s eyes as these international citizens were touched forever by the wolf’s spirit was all the pay I could ever ask for.
To see an animal as magnificent as the wolf for the very first time and then learn that they are still being killed was a consciousness awakening that transforms tourists into activists. Each viewer was aghast to learn that these and other wolves are still being targeted for extermination and many parents said their children wanted to join Wolf Patrol.
So wolf killers of Wisconsin, please take a moment and think about all the money your communities could make by taking your knowledge of these animals in your own state and becoming wolf watchers as well. If any of you want to take me up on the offer, Wolf Patrol will promote any wolf tourism by former wolf hunters and trappers and help you get rich doing it. Think of that new Ford F-150 that you’ve been wanting to buy!