Day 8 of Wisconsin’s Bear Hound Training Season in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest…

Wisconsin’s two month bear hound training season continues in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and Wolf Patrol continues to monitor bear baiting & training activities in known wolf pack territory in Forest County, where Highway 70 cuts through the national forests. On both the northern and southern sides of Hwy 70, bear baits are scattered off US Forest Service roads, many much closer than the legal limit of 50 and 100 yards. From these bait sites, hound hunters are releasing their dogs to chase bears, often across busy roads and highways that intersect this portion of the national forest.

Every day that Wolf Patrol’s monitors have been documenting bear hound training on Highway 70 this month, we have seen hound trucks chasing loose hounds, hoping to catch them before they cross the busy highway where cars travel in excess of 60mph, often braking to avoid hound trucks and hunters on the road’s shoulder.

A very popular bear baiting and hound training area in this part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is along Windsor Dam Road, south of Highway 70, and off of Fishel Road, on the northern side of the highway. From both of these roads, hounds are released to trail bears that are often chased onto the busy highway. On July 8th, it was no different, with a bear crossing the highway in front of an unsuspecting speeding motorist.

But its not only creating a conflict with speeding traffic, bear baiting and hound training in this area is a recipe for disaster considering the number of known wolf packs with young pups in this part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Not only have bear hounds been killed by wolves, but in recent years, wolves also have been killed and dumped in the area.


Wolf Patrol is opposed to the conflicts created when bear hunters bait and train their dogs in known wolf territory. We’ve documented how wolves are attracted to bait sites, often by the deer and other animals who are also attracted to the artificial feeding sites. We’ve also documented a pattern, whereby the vast majority of wolf/bear hounds conflicts occur on national forest lands where unlimited bear baiting is allowed to also occur.


Bear baiting isn’t only a contributing factor in violent encounters with federally protected gray wolves, its also conditioning and addicting black bears into being fed human food waste that alters the natural behavior of many other wild animals as well.

And not even the Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) or the US Forest Service (USFS) knows how many bear baits are being maintained in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. State law does not require a license to bait for bear, as long as its being done for hunting. Also, any bear baiter can place as many baits as they like on national forest lands, and are allowed to dump up to ten gallons of sugary food waste and fryer grease in each one daily, adding up to hundreds of gallons of oil and waste dumped at each site across the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest every year.

Many residents in Forest County, Wisconsin are also opposed to bear baiting and hound training practices because of the trespassing hounds that cross their property, chasing out deer and other wildlife in their blind pursuit of black bear. On July 8th, one such resident informed Wolf Patrol that bear hounds had just come onto Highway 70 and tried to get into his truck as he slowed to avoid them.

We also heard the story on patrol July 8th from a hound hunter operating baits in this area, that someone has been lifting off the lids to his baits and pouring gasoline over the enclosed bait. Wolf Patrol will monitor bear baits on public lands, often measuring their proximity to roads and highways, but we do not otherwise touch, tamper or contaminate bait sites. Nor do we condone anyone else violating the rights of bear hunters to legally practice bear baiting and hound training practices.

Wolf Patrol is opposed to bear baiting and hound training in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, but only through legal means such as monitoring and reporting on the conflicts it causes to wolves and other wildlife, and reporting illegal activity or non-compliant bait sites to WDNR & USFS law enforcement.

We believe we are being reasonable in calling on both WDNR & USFS to:

  • Require the registration of bear baits.
  • Limit the number of bear baits.
  • Ban the use of chocolate in bear baits.
  • Cessation of baiting when wolves begin visiting bear baits.
  • Require a license to bait for bears and train bear hounds on national forest lands.
  • Ban the dumping of grease and other non-biodegradable bear bait ingredients on national forest lands.
  • Stop compensating hound hunters for dogs killed by wolves while chasing bears through known wolf territory.
  • Prohibit the use of hounds within 100 yards of highways with a posted speed limit in excess of 55mph.

These are just a few changes Wolf Patrol will be calling for this Summer as we continue to monitor Wisconsin’s 7 month bear baiting and two-month hound training in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. If you agree that its time to reign in unsafe bear hunting practices on our national forest lands, send an email to forest officials asking for more restrictions on bear hunting activities that create conflicts for wildlife and other human forest users.

TO SEND A COMMENT TO CHEQUAMEGON-NICOLET FOREST OFFICIALS:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/contactus/cnnf/about-forest/contactus

OR EMAIL:

cnnfadmin@fs.fed.us

If You Must Run Your Hounds in Wisconsin Wolf Country…Please Use Dog Bells!

On 07/05/18, USDA’s Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves attacked and injured a Walker hound in Burnett County, Wisconsin. Bear hound trainers are reminded to use caution when running hounds in wolf territory to help reduce conflicts.

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Every year in northern Wisconsin, bear hounds are injured and killed by wolves as they chase bears through summer wolf territory. Wolves with young pups are especially territorial in summer months and can become conditioned to recognizing bear baiting sites as feeding locations.

KETTLEWELL HOUND 8.2.14

Bear hound killed by wolves in 2014…the same hounder lost another hound to a bear this week.

Wolf Patrol offers free dog bells to hound hunters concerned for their dogs safety, while being trained to chase bears in wolf country. Although we are opposed to the practice entirely, we still would like to work with hound hunters running dogs in federally protected gray wolf habitat in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in order to reduce the loss of both wolf and hound lives.

Thanks to Polly Plotts, and the other hound hunters featured in this video for practicing caution by using dog bells in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Wisconsin Hounders Still Chasing Bears Across Highway 70…

Every Summer during Wisconsin’s two-month bear hound training season, hounds are killed by both bears and wolves as they are taught to chase bears. In addition to the dangers faced while off the leash in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, bear hounds are routinely run their prey across busy highways such as HWY 70, which cuts through the northern portion of Forest County.

It’s time for both the Wisconsin DNR and the US Forest Service to reign in bear hunters and restrict and regulate the dangerous bear baiting and hound training practices associated with hunting bears in Wisconsin.

 

Chasing Bears & Hounds Across Highways is All a Part of Bear Hunting in Wisconsin…

Since this year’s training season began on July 1st, Wolf Patrol has seen hounders parked on Interstate 70 daily. In addition to the danger associated with running hounds through active wolf territory, bear hunters in Forest County also place bears, dogs and motorists at risk by allowing their dogs to chase bears across highways.

Anywhere else in the country, public land managers and wildlife officials would recognize the inherent risks associated with the intentional feeding bears, allowing unregulated hound training during peak wolf activity and hunting from busy highways.

But in Wisconsin, its all a part of the heritage of bear hunting and is continuing, despite the increase in conflicts its creating between bear hounds and federally protected gray wolves. Unlimited bear baiting, running hounds through summer wolf rendezvous sites, and chasing bears across highways should not be practices that are allowed in our national forests, where they place others also at risk.

Join Wolf Patrol in calling for an end to these practices in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and everywhere it causes conflicts between humans and wildlife!

Wolf Patrol Still Finding Bear Baits Out of Compliance in Forest County, Wisconsin

Today, Wolf Patrol continued to monitor bear baits less than the required distance from public roads and highways in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest of northern Wisconsin. Last month, we reported two of these sites to DNR wardens, but the sites remain intact. Wisconsin law dictates that bear baits be at least 50 yards from public roads, and a 100 yards from roads posted 45mph or more, such as is the case with one bait in question.

Yesterday, we spoke with the DNR’s supervising conservation officer for northern Wisconsin who assured us that he would be looking into the complaint, as well as assuring Wolf Patrol that we had the legal right to occupy a bear bait site where two of our trail cameras were stolen this week. Wolf Patrol has requested assistance from DNR conservation officers to reclaim the bait site in question, which we have been informed we have a legal right to occupy for our research purposes.

All bear baits recorded in this film are in Forest County and within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. These baits are also overlapping the territory of at least two known wolf packs. Each year, bear hounds are killed by wolves when released near bear baits that wolves also recognize as feeding sites.

In Wisconsin, anyone can bait for bears, with no license required, as long as the baits are used for hunting and not recreational purposes. An estimated 5 million gallons of human food waste, fryer grease and other unhealthy bait material is dumped with the intention of feeding bears in Wisconsin. There is also no limit to the number of bear baits an individual can operate on public and national forest lands in Wisconsin.

Throughout Wisconsin’s two-month bear hound training, and 7-month baiting season, Wolf Patrol monitors will be recording gray wolf and other wildlife activity at bear baiting sites in known wolf territory. Our research will be used to lobby DNR and US Forest Service officials for greater oversight and regulation of bear hunting practices in federally protected gray wolf habitat.

Wisconsin Bear Hunters Continue Committing Crimes on Our National Forest Lands

Yesterday, Wolf Patrol citizen monitors documenting Wisconsin’s two-month bear hound training, and 7 month bear baiting season returned to the site where a trail camera was stolen, only to discover that an additional research camera had been stolen from the location on Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest lands. The second theft is just a small indicator of the degree of illegal activity that is tolerated by DNR officials, unwilling to enforce even the minimalist bear baiting regulations.

In addition to the theft of three trail cameras, bear hunters in Forest County are illegally baiting too close to roads and intentionally leaving their bait exposed to other animals, including deer and wolves. One theory behind the illegal practice of leaving bear bait accessible to other animals, is that Wisconsin hound hunters know that if a wolf is attracted to their bait, following deer or other prey, it might kill a young inexperienced bear hound, making the hunter eligible for up to $2,500.00 in compensation from the state’s Endangered Species Fund.

Not only is it illegally to remove someone’s (Wolf Patrol’s) trail camera from an occupied bear bait, its also illegal to have your bait accessible to other animals, especially deer. In our first month of investigations into illegal bear hunting practices in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, we have identified multiple illegal bear baits and had three of our trail cameras stolen by bear baiters.

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Illegal activity committed by bear hunters in our national forests is a chronic problem in northern Wisconsin, and the USFS and DNR are complacent in addressing the problems caused by the politically powerfully pro-hunting lobby in Wisconsin. Bear hound training and baiting should be banned in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest!

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Forest County Sheriff deputy investigating trail camera theft July 2, 2018.

Wolf Patrol will continue monitoring bear hunting practices in Forest County, Wisconsin throughout the bear hound training season, which runs until the end of August. In September, Wolf Patrol will return to the area to monitor the black bear kill season. Wisconsin conducts the largest black bear hunt in the nation, with an expected kill quota of almost 5,000 animals, more than are killed in any other state including Alaska.

Forest County Authorities Investigating Bear Hunter Theft of Wolf Patrol Trail Cameras

On July 1st, bear hound training season began in northern Wisconsin. Wolf Patrol is continuing their citizen monitoring of bear hunting activities in known wolf areas where conflicts have been known to occur. On June 2nd, Wolf Patrol began monitoring bear baits in Forest County, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Our focus is on baiting activity that attracts wolves, although we are reporting suspected violations of Wisconsin’s bear baiting regulations in the same area. Sometime in late June, a WP trail camera was stolen from a bear bait located 75 yards from Highway 55 on national forest lands. On July 1st, another trail camera was stolen from a WP bear bait, and on July 2nd, a third camera was stolen from the very same site.

For too long, bear hunters in Wisconsin have been allowed to place an unlimited number of bear baits within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from mid-April until October. A recent DNR study found in the CNNF, more than one third of a wild black bears diet consists of human food waste used as bear bait. Now these baiting practices, including the two-month long hound training season are causing conflicts between federally protected wolves and dogs loosed in their territory in July and August. Many are killed as wolves defend their young from bear hound trespass.

Wolf Patrol will continue its monitoring campaign in Forest County throughout the summer and into the kill season, which begins in September. As long as criminal behavior within the bear hunting community continues, so will Wolf Patrol’s campaign in Forest County, Wisconsin and other regions of our national forest lands where it occurs.

The theft of Wolf Patrol’s research cameras has been reported to County, state and federal authorities and unless they are returned immediately, we will pursue criminal charges against those responsible. Theft and other violations of Wisconsin’s wildlife laws on public lands is a crime against everyone, and reflects negatively on the entire bear hunting community. Such behavior should not be tolerated on national forest lands.

WOLF PUP TRACKS

July 1, 2018 Adult wolf and pup tracks near bear bait reported to DNR.