Media Release: Hound hunters file harassment complaint against Wolf Patrol. Wolf Patrol files DNR report on illegal elk kill in same area

Yesterday, members of Wolf Patrol were questioned by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies after receiving a complaint from Wisconsin hound hunters, accusing the citizen-led monitoring project of interfering with their hunt for wolves. On December 2nd, Wolf Patrol located wolf hunters from Luck, WI, running their hounds in the Polk County Forest. The hound hunter was informed that Wolf Patrol would not be interfering with his wolf hunt, but would be monitoring the hunt for illegal activity. The encounter ended without incident.

On December 3rd, Wolf Patrol encountered the same houndsmen, hunting directly from the road, in the same county forest lands, and followed their vehicles during the hunt for six hours.

No wolves were killed during the monitoring of the hound hunt, nor did any members step further than ten feet from their vehicles during the entire encounter. Upon returning to Luck, patrol members were questioned by local Sheriff’s deputies, who said they had received a harassment complaint from the hound hunters in question. Wolf Patrol founder, Rod Coronado informed the deputy that our project had been cleared by the DNR, and that we would cooperate fully with any investigation into whether our actions constituted hunter harassment or any other violation of county, state or federal laws.

“We welcome any investigation into whether the monitoring of wolf hunting in Wisconsin on public lands constitutes a violation of the law. If it does, Wolf Patrol will use the opportunity to further expose the irresponsible practice of releasing hounds on public lands to chase wildlife.” said Coronado, who was the individual questioned by the police. Coronado said the deputy took a “hands off” approach when he was informed that our campaign was not condemned by the DNR. “When I explained what Wolf Patrol was about, the deputy expressed interest in our project and asked to see photos we took that morning of two deer carcasses we discovered dumped at a dead end road.” No citations were issued. The deer incident was reported to the DNR Poaching Hotline.

Day 3 Update: Hounding Hunting Season in Wisconsin


Wolf hunter / hound truck

Just left four wolf hound hunters talking to the local sheriff, after they spoke to us. Hound hunters filed a harassment complaint after we refused to leave their trail, despite their best efforts to lose us. They continued to run their hounds through the Polk County Forest. We informed the sheriff that we have no intention to break any laws, and that the DNR has been informed of our monitoring project, and that we were within our rights.

I then contacted my DNR law enforcement contact and informed him that we would be continuing with our monitoring of the wolf hunt and would be reporting any illegal activity that we document. DNR Warden thanked me for keeping him informed. We will remain in Zone 3 until the hunt officially closes.

Another wolf was reported killed, bringing the statewide quota up to 147, three shy of being filled. We also documented a possible illegal deer kill that we are first going to confer with DNR before publicizing.

Ten Days Until Hound Hunt Begins in Wisconsin

On November 20th, a delegation from Great Lakes Wolf Patrol met with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials to discuss the state’s upcoming hound hunt for wolves which begins December 1st.

The meeting with DNR Chief Warden, Todd Schaller, Dave Zebro, (the warden from Zone 2 where WP operated in October) and other enforcement officers began with an update to the investigation launched into a documented wolf trapping violation WP meetingobtained in October. The DNR assured us that they took the complaint very seriously, and sent a warden out to talk to the trapper in question. The trapper acknowledged that he illegally left his wolf trap in the ground after the season had officially closed on October 19th and was given a verbal warning.

WP believes this was an appropriate response by DNR to investigate illegal wolf hunting/trapping activities brought forward to them by the citizen members of our group. DNR staff informed us that the Wisconsin trapping community is very tight-knit, and the fact that a warden did a “stop & knock” visit to a trapper following our complaint, will inform the trapping community that they are being monitored not just by DNR, but Wolf Patrol as well.

DNR staff in attendance also commended Wolf Patrol members for their level of professionalism in their interactions with hunters & trappers, and said they received no complaints about our presence in the wolf hunt area in October. DNR reiterated that the success of their enforcement department depends on the eyes and ears of the public.

meetingpaperThe rest of the meeting was spent addressing the legality of the upcoming hound hunt for wolves. WP was able to clarify what is illegal hound hunting and will use the information obtained from this meeting while observing the hunt in December.

Wolf Patrol stated to DNR officials that while we are opposed to the hunting and trapping of wolves in Wisconsin, our mission is documentation. WP is committed to exposing public policies on public lands that reveal the mis-management of wolves since their loss of endangered species protection. Both the DNR and WP recognize that it is the state legislature, not the DNR that legalized the hunting of wolves, and if we are to change that policy, we need to encite greater citizen participation.

RETURN OF THE FIRING LINE: Wolf Patrol First Report on 2014 Wolf/Elk Hunting Season North of Yellowstone National Park

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”—Aldo Leopold

Sunset over Gardiner Basin

Sunset over Gardiner Basin

Since the state of Montana took over management of gray wolves from the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 2011, wolves in the state have been classified as a game species. In recent years, wolves from prominent packs have been shot leaving Yellowstone National Park. Most wolves killed in WMU (Wolf Management Unit) 313 are animals following migrating elk out of the park. But in some documented cases, Yellowstone wolves have been intentionally lured towards a specific location with bait. The purpose of Yellowstone Wolf Patrol’s monitoring project is to document Montana’s wolf management policies in the field, where they have resulted in the death of over a dozen wolves from family units that spend the majority of their time within Yellowstone National Park. It is also to investigate hunting practices that while legal, are questionably unethical and against the principles of fair chase.

Image from

Image from

In September 2014, Yellowstone Wolf Patrol began monitoring of Montana’s sport hunting season for wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park. The area along the park’s northern boundary is broken into two wolf hunting units, WMU 313 & WMU 316, each with a quota of three wolves. Our first excursions into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area were to monitor the September 15th opening of wolf hunting season which coincides with the early elk hunting season in WMU 313 & 316. wolf hunt lottery Research revealed that there are two primary commercial guides offering wolf hunts in WMU 313 & 316, Hell’s A-Roarin’ Outfitters and Absaroka-Beartooth Outfitters, the latter also offered a wolf hunt as a prize in a September online lottery. Our patrols located both guides base camps, and monitored some of their hunting activities. This annual early season hunt takes place in high country where primarily, resident elk on wilderness lands are targeted. While we recorded five separate hunting parties and fresh wolf sign in the area, one bull elk and no wolves were reported killed in WMU 313 on the opening week of the hunt in the wilderness area. One wolf was later reported harvested in WMU 313, leaving two more in the quota of three for that unit. November Wolf Patrol monitoring was planned for the annual winter elk migration that takes place through a narrow corridor that parallels the Yellowstone River, just north of the community of Gardiner, Montana. The Northern Elk Herd that resides in Yellowstone National Park does not leave until colder weather conditions trigger their annual migration to winter ranges outside the park, where they are then subject to hunting.

Elk Hunting Guides in Yellowstone National Park

Elk Hunting Guides in Yellowstone National Park

Based on Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks wolf kill data from past years, this is also the area where wolves are becoming more commonly killed while following migrating wildlife out of the park. This portion of Wolf & Elk Management Unit 313 is easily accessible by paved and unpaved roads in the Gallatin National Forest. Beginning in the late afternoon, during elk season, slow moving trucks spotting for elk drive up and down the road to Jardine. A local told WP that sometimes they want to lean on their car horn as they drive down the Jardine Road that parallels the park boundary, because of the elk hunters hunting from their vehicles. On November 4th, wolves were heard howling from Eagle Creek Campground. With temperatures dropping, and with so many elk leaving the national park at the time, and so many elk hunters congregating in the Gardiner area, it was only a matter of when, not if, wolves leaving Yellowstone would be killed.

One of the Yellowstone wolves killed this November

One of the Yellowstone wolves killed this November

On November 5th, three wolves were reported killed within a 24 hour period, all within three miles from the park boundary. One was killed near the Jardine Road, and another was killed in Cinnabar Canyon, three miles from the boundary. The third wolf was the Alpha Male from the Cougar Creek pack, who was killed near Beattie Gulch, just a few hundred yards from the park boundary. Continue reading

Update November 10 – 11: YWP Patrols through the Storm

“The polar vortex hasn’t kept the hunters away, so we can’t let it stop us.”

Freezing temps

Sunday evening, an arctic storm blew in, dropping temperatures below 0 with wind chills down to a frigid -45 degrees. Despite this, we’re committed to patrolling areas of high hunting activity in the Gardiner area.

(Warning: Graphic photos)

On the morning of the 10th, after spotting a herd of elk roaming the top of a ridge, we heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots. After a half dozen rounds were discharged into the crowd, one elk had been fatally hit, and a figure in blaze orange emerged from the nearby forest to claim his kill. We monitored the area for hours afterward, watching the hunter gut and process his trophy. After the guts were removed from the body cavity, the hunter made the convenient decision to kick the remaining carcass down the ridge, tumbling and falling hundreds of feet, to provide a more comfortable weight for his descent down the mountain. The gut pile left intact to rot, we believed it imperative to have eyes on the top of that ridge as long as needed, to be sure no wolves or other predators would be baited into an early death at the hands of a hunter seeing an advantage.

Hunter gutting elk

Hunter gutting elk

As night grew closer, team members attempted to ascend the mountain, only to prematurely abort due to falling darkness, extreme temperatures, and the prospect of predators. The following morning, however, we successfully completed our trek, and reached the gut pile with plenty of daylight for better observation. Upon reaching the peak and coming in contact with the remains of the elk left behind by the hunter, we noticed the tell-tale footprints of predators and scavenging birds; we suspect magpies or grey jays. The view from the top was nothing less than surreal, and we remained invigorated to defend this homeland of the wild & majestic grizzlies, wolves, and others to which we feel innately connected.

Despite the frigid temperatures, we’ve remained committed to monitoring numerous areas of high hunting activity, and to continue seeking out areas we’ve recognized as suitable for locals to dump carcasses in their attempts to bait predators. We are actively watching regions where Yellowstone wolves have been killed in the past two weeks, including just over the boundary, where elk continue to migrate in search of suitable winter habitat. While Wolf Management Unit (WMU) 313 has been closed due to a filled quota, we remain vigilant & on the ground in WMU 316, where one wolf stands in the way of yet another filled quota, and other WMUs in the surrounding area, where quotas remain non-existent.

The top of this ridge is where we found the gut pile.

The top of this ridge is where we found the gut pile.

Day 9 Update: Yellowstone Wolf Patrol

Weather in the Yellowstone area is still allowing hunters to pursue elk migrating from the park, so our patrols have remained in effect. No new wolves have been reported killed in patrolled areas, but we are watching areas we strongly believe wolves and hunters might collide.

This morning it was five below zero, with a wind chill of twenty below. We’re not leaving. Elk season is allowing for a larger number of hunters in the migratory corridor for this northern elk herd, and any of them could have a wolf tag in their pocket as well. There is only a “five wolves a day” limit in the area where this hunter shot his elk yesterday.

UPDATE Nov 7th: YWP Finding Kill Site Near Yellowstone Park Boundary

Yesterday we set up camp in an area right on the border of Yellowstone National Park, where we had been told that two wolves had just been killed. We were hoping to find evidence of the wolves killed. Wolves are also known to travel to areas where they know missing members of their pack have traveled, in an attempt to find them. We were concerned for the well being of these wolves as the hunting zone 313 had still not officially closed at this point, even though the wolf kill quota had already been filled. Considering the speed at which wolves have been killed in this area recently, the delay in closure of this zone 313 to hunting provided ample opportunity for the quota to be exceeded.


Hunters deliberately leave carcasses to attract the predators they are hunting

We found a kill site, with blood soaked earth and drag marks, in the area where wolves had been killed. There were no gut piles left over, so it is hard to say what exactly this kill site was from. We also encountered a bison hide and bones, possibly dumped as bait for predators.

On the same day, we started experiencing literally hundreds of hostile text messages, which were reported on in a Bozeman Daily Chronicle article. While there are obviously some hunters in the area who find our presence challenging, we have been receiving plenty of positive community support since we arrived in the Gardiner area.

We also received a voicemail message from a hunter telling us he had killed three wolves. We reported this to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) who said they would look into the matter.

If what the hunter said is true, then this would have far exceeded the established quota allowed. We also expressed concern over the 313 hunting zone not been closed yet, despite the quota having been filled. Shortly after this phone call the zone was officially closed to hunting.

November 5: Encounter with the Outfitters

Early morning patrol

Early morning patrol. Photos by Julie Henry.

Just across the river from the safety of the park sits Hells A Roarin hunting outfitters, just one of many hunting groups offering wolf hunts for the right price. Since we arrived back in Montana, we’ve been documenting their morning and evening activities. From daybreak until dusk, the landscape is dotted with hunter orange. Most are searching for elk, and we believe that many of them have wolf tags as well.

Hunter compound

Hunter basecamp

This morning we positioned ourselves at a trailhead as a party from the basecamp was returning from their morning hunt. Not wanting to encourage a confrontation, we made ourselves approachable. Our goal was to capture evidence of a wolf hunted outside the Yellowstone boundary.

When the hunting party did return, we were unsure of how the encounter was going to go. Initially they were suspicious (they recognized us from an unexpected encounter we had yesterday). The youngest approached us and we immediately told him that we were with Wolf Patrol and intended to document any wolves being killed, but we have no intentions of interfering with hunts. The interaction was positive and friendly. He later appeared to be reassuring the rest of his party that we were not there to start a fight, although a few still displayed defensive body language.

Hunters returning to trail head

Hunters returning to trail head

The hunters had returned to the trailhead empty handed, so while there was no documentation of wolf hunting, we feel positive about our interactions with these hunters and the fact that they know we are here watching their activities.


Media Release: Yellowstone Wolf Patrol returns to monitor wolf hunt


Hunters leaving the Hell’s A Roarin camp for the afternoon hunt

On November 2nd, citizens opposed to the hunting of wolves just outside Yellowstone National Park (YNP) returned to the Gallatin National Forest to witness, monitor and document wolf hunting in Management Units 313 & 316. Yellowstone Wolf Patrol (YWP) was formed following the decision by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to continue to allow the hunting and trapping of wolves immediately outside YNP.

Patrol members are following non-resident trophy hunters led by Hell’s A Roarin Outfitters, who charge thousands of dollars for guided wolf hunts. The monitoring project, the first of its kind in the country, is focused on filming the annual general season elk hunt, just outside of Gardiner, Montana. At least three outfitters in the area are directing elk hunting clients to purchase wolf permits, so that, “…if you run into a wolf during your trophy whitetail hunt or while climbing the ridge looking for elk, you can take a shot.” (Linehan Outfitting Co.

YWP supports the position of local environmental groups, wolf watchers, and Native American tribes opposed to the hunting of wolves outside not only YNP, but Glacier National Park as well. Our objective is to obtain photographic/video evidence of the legal killing of Yellowstone wolves, in order to educate the public and encourage them to pressure the state of Montana to end the hunting of wolves outside national parks.

This is the third time in as many months, that Wolf Patrol has led groups of citizens in Montana and Wisconsin into wolf hunting areas to document what we believe is the irresponsible management of wolves in states with aggressive wolf eradication policies. Last month, Great Lakes Wolf Patrol obtained evidence of illegal wolf trapping activities, and are currently working with state wildlife agencies to investigate the alleged crimes.

Officials with FWP have publicly stated that citizens are within their rights to monitor wolf hunts, as long as no interference with legal hunting occurs. YWP are calling on FWP to stop the wolf hunt in Units 313 & 316, in order to prevent the killing of five (of a quota of six) wolves, that have yet to be killed outside the park. We believe the lives of these wolves are invaluable to researchers engaged in ongoing predator/prey studies, to Native Americans who hold these animals as sacred relations, and to the thousands of tourists from all over the world whose travel to the park to view wolves.

Despite threats of violence posted repeatedly on Wolf Patrol social media sites, we are determined to represent the interests of people everywhere who are opposed to Montana’s recreational wolf hunting season. We are currently camped on public lands in below-freezing conditions in order to follow wolves that are currently leaving Yellowstone National Park in pursuit of elk migrating out of the park to their winter range.

Contact Rod Coronado 616-914-4575 Julie Henry 615-943-7700

Great Lakes Wolf Patrol Update: Wolf trap monitoring

We just checked the illegal wolf trap that was left in the ground last night, after the hunt closed at 630pm, and it had been sprung by an unknown source. Our trail camera did not capture the source. As we were checking the SD card an 1/8 mile away, wolves began howling! Also, as we walked to the trap site, a mature bald eagle landed just 20 ft from us. Look for video soon documenting the placement and checking of the trap by our monitored wolf trapper. We are headed to another area we know where wolf traps were in the ground to determine with a metal detector whether they are still illegally in the ground.