Hey Wisconsin! Don’t Feed the Bears!

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.

hound killed by wolves

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.

http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061708

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.

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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.

http://www.northwoodsbearproducts.net

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

Wolf Patrol Returns to Yellowstone National Park

Rod Talks to Wolf Watchers Wolf Watchers LamarYesterday 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!

**Howl To Action!**

Today as directed by our questioning Sheriff’s deputy, we reported to the Clerk of the Court in Polk County, only to be told that no charges had been filed, so I called the deputy directly, and he told me the bear hunter (pictured here) went to the District Attorney, and was told we would be charged with hunter harassment, and if we had any questions to call him directly, which I then did, and was told it would take a week to review the deputies report to determine whether charges would be filed.

Sooooo, if you’d like to call the District Attorney and RESPECTFULLY request that charges NOT be filed, us three accused would appreciate it. Whatever happens, Wolf Patrol will not cease its operations in Wisconsin, and myself, Benjamin and Stef are unceasing in our belief that we have broken no laws and that citizen monitoring of public hunting practices on public lands must continue. Remind DA Steffen that traveling public roads and photographing others on public lands is not illegal. Hound hunters operate with impunity in Polk County, and if anyone deserves a citation for harassment, its the hound hunters themselves who run dogs across our public lands chasing and harassing public trust wildlife.

Daniel P. Steffen – Polk County District Attorney
Phone: 715-485-9231

Wolf Patrol members facing hunter harassment charges

Dear Wolf Patrol Supporters,
Myself and two other crew members are facing charges of hunter harassment, which we welcome as an opportunity to demonstrate that what Wolf Patrol does is not illegal. We have been in Polk County, Wisconsin documenting the training of hounds for bear hunting, with the full knowledge of the Department of Natural Resources.

In what appears to be an attempt by Polk County officials to dissuade us from monitoring hunting practices on public lands, we have been told that we could not follow and film bear hunters. We were told that we would be charged with hunter harassment, and deputies would be writing us misdemeanor citations. Sheriff’s deputies then told us their computers were down. Then they said they couldn’t find the statute, and asked us to come to the Polk County Clerk’s Office tomorrow, but otherwise we were free to go.

We have no intention of ceasing our patrols as long as we haven’t been charged with anything. But we need your help! Please kick down a few bucks if you can so we can give the wolves of Wisconsin their day in court and return their protectors to the field (PayPal donations: http://tinyurl.com/kp5x25y). Otherwise, we are OK and in high spirits after finding HUGE wolf prints accompanied by puppy prints! Video of the encounter with bear hunters and Sheriff’s deputies coming!

The First Annual Great Montana Wolf & Coyote Hunt

Two wolves trapped January 14th, 2015 Sanders County, Montana

Two wolves trapped January 14th, 2015 Sanders County, Montana

Members of Wolf Patrol were in Sanders County, Montana from January 15-18th, to monitor an organized wolf hunt in western Montana dubbed the “Great Montana Wolf & Coyote Hunt.” The event was sponsored by the Montana Trappers Association and other sportsmen’s groups and was billed as an effort to “manage the wolf and coyote population.”

Wolf track Lolo National Forest

Wolf track Lolo National Forest

Wolf Patrol’s objective is to monitor coordinated “killing contests” or trapping competitions in Idaho and Montana, which are the only states outside of Alaska to still allow wolf hunting. Wolf Patrol decided to investigate the event after Montana residents brought the predator contest to our attention and after a similar contest was held in Salmon, Idaho the past two years.

Wolf in crosshairs billboard

Wolf in crosshairs billboard

The Montana hunt was centered in Sanders County, where very few livestock depredations were reported by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks in 2014. The few wolf-caused depredations reported, resulted in lethal removal of the responsible animals by federal Wildlife Services agents from the Garden Creek and Corona wolf packs. Events like the “Great Montana Wolf & Coyote Hunt” are more than just recreational hunts, they are vigilante-style wolf eradication programs that have the potential to wipe out not only solitary animals, but entire wolf family groups. Continue reading

UNANNOUNCED WISCONSIN WOLF PATROL: January 9, 2015 Lincoln County Forest, Wisconsin

Fresh Wolf Tracks

Fresh Wolf Tracks

With newly returned authority to verify wolf depredations, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services has confirmed that wolves injured a bird hound outside the town of Harding, in Lincoln County Wisconsin on December 26th.                            2014 was the year when 22 hunting dogs were killed and nine injured by wolves as they pursued other wildlife, mostly bears.

Location of 12/14 hound injury

Location of 12/14 hound injury

Most of the attacks in Wisconsin occur as bear hunters are training hounds in Summer months. Its also bear baiting season, when hunters begin leaving large food piles as an attractant for bears in the forest, which can also attract wolves. Domestic dog/wolf encounters are greatest in July-August, when wolf pups are leaving their dens for the first time and their family groups are very protective.

Ice Age Trail, Lincoln Co., WI

Ice Age Trail, Lincoln Co., WI

Each dog owner is entitled to $2,500.00 in compensation (from the sales of wolf tags and applications) and all claims will be paid out by the state in January 2015. Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to reimburse hound hunters for deaths or injuries to dogs used for hunting, conflicts that continue because of the state’s liberal nine-month hound training and hunting season.

New Wood Forest

New Wood Forest

New Great Lakes Wolf Patrol members-in-training participated in a patrol of the site of the latest hound depredation in Lincoln County on January 9th, (after a recent snowstorm forced the postponement of our public meeting the night before!) to determine whether this latest attack as well as six recorded depredations between 2009-2013 might result in any illegal retribution or reprisals against wolves. Continue reading