February 5-6, 2016: Wolf Patrol Attends Coyote Contest in Mauston, Wisconsin

Wolf Patrol was on-sight for yet another coyote contest held near Mauston, Wisconsin at Jackson Clinic, a small tavern in Juneau County.  Crew members patrolled the surrounding area beginning at sunrise on Friday, February 5 in order to establish areas where hunters may be looking for coyotes.

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01/27/16: Newspaper ad for the coyote contest at Jackson Clinic

The weather that weekend made ideal hunting conditions, with above freezing temperatures which led Wolf Patrol to believe their would be much hounding activity on the day of the contest.  The roads were well-maintained, making navigation in and around the the Bass Hollow State Natural Area, fully accessible.  Hound and coyote tracks were evident throughout the territory our monitors patrolled.

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02/05/16: A snow covered road in Bass Hollow SNA.

Saturday, February 6 Wolf Patrol’s presence was patrolling roads surrounding Jackson Clinic, the establishment sponsoring the event.  By 730am, members were able to document the first two trucks equipped with hound boxes.  Minutes later a string of trucks were parked along the same road.  The rest of the day revealed heavy traffic, with at least 15 different trucks traveling throughout the beautiful bluff country in Juneau County.  At times, men with rifles could be seen standing near the roads edge, and other times caravans of trucks would be seen driving throughout the open farm roads.  By 1100am the first dead coyote could be spotted on top of a hound box.

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02/06/16: A caravan of hound trucks with a dead coyote in the back.

By 530pm the action was starting to die down on the previously busy rural roads, and after Wolf Patrol made a final lap, we headed to Jackson Clinic as the sun was starting to set.  Although the weigh-in wasn’t due until 700pm, coyotes began being weighed at 545pm.  In total, two coyotes were entered, which in turn won the all three categories of “smallest”, “largest” and “most.”

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02/06/16: A coyote being weighed-in at about 25 pounds.

While waiting to see if any late arrivals would be submitted, Wolf Patrol crew members had the opportunity to speak to several residents and contest participants.  The overall sentiment was that these hound hunters love to coyote hunt, and they love their dogs, even going so far as to say that they are the responsible hounders.  Also, the consensus was that coyotes are a detriment to the local deer population.  According to one gentlemen, “There’s nothing like the sound of my dogs running through the valley.”  Later, bear hunting entered the conversation, and another hunter said “I don’t care if I kill another bear.  I just like treeing them, and seeing what they’ll do, and letting them go.”  Overall, the tone in this small bar was generally positive despite the actual killing of these beautiful predators, and the precarious position put on their dogs while pitted against a wild animal.

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02/06/16: The two coyotes taken during the contest- 21 and 25 pounds.

In conclusion, Wolf Patrol believes that encounters like these help us glean valuable information into the hound hunting lifestyle, and communities that participate in it.  Despite disagreeing with the method by which this hunting occurs, and the general feeling of disregard for predators, our experience was a learning one; One that may help us make changes for the better for wolves and all of Wisconsin’s wildlife, by working with those that we oppose.

Northern Wisconsin Patrol Report: January 18-23rd, 2016

1.19.16 Moquah

01/19/16: Wolf Patrol, Moquah Barrens, Wisconsin.

On January 17th, Wolf Patrol’s Wildlife Crimes Division received a report of suspected wolf poaching in the Washburn District of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF). The report alleged that an unnamed individual had witnessed wolf poaching, allegedly by bear hunters in retaliation for eight hunting hounds that had been killed by wolves, since the bear hound training season began July 1st.

Wolf Killed Bear Hound

2015: Bear hound killed and eaten by wolves during the hound training season.

With the increase in the number of bear hunting hounds being killed by wolves in northern Wisconsin in recent years, Wolf Patrol has feared that these depredations would lead to retaliation killings, despite the fact that bear hound hunters are compensated from Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Fund, up to $2,500.00 for each hound killed by a federally protected gray wolf.

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09/23/15: DNR Wolf Caution Area, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Red denotes 2015 wolf-killed hound(s) blue, hound depredations 2009-14.

In July 2015, Wolf Patrol began its investigation of bear hound training and baiting in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, particularly in Bayfield County, where numerous hunting dogs had recently been killed by wolves. What we found was a high concentration of bear baits (19) in the Department Of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) “Wolf Caution Areas” which are designated once a depredation has occurred. Despite the advance warnings of wolves having been habituated to bear baiting sites, bear hunters continue to loose their hounds in the caution areas, and the result last Summer and Fall, was eight bear hunting hounds killed.

Endgo Rd Hound Hunter

09/17/15: Bayfield County, Wolf Patrol member Rod Coronado conversing with hound hunter documented driving illegally on closed trails.

On January 18, as part of the WDNR’s Carnivore Tracking Program, Wolf Patrol volunteer trackers conducted a carnivore tracking survey in the Washburn District of the CNNF. The annual gray wolf survey helps, “to determine the number, distribution, breeding status, and territories of wolves in Wisconsin”. The volunteer survey is also a way to monitor the abundance and distribution of other medium-sized and large carnivores, as well as an attempt to determine the presence of rare carnivores such ass Canada Lynx  and cougar.

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01/19/16: Measuring canine tracks and droppings near the Moquah Barrens, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Wolf Patrol monitors visited the Washburn district of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in July, twice in September and once in October. On all three occasions, wolf tracks and sign were easily found in the areas where bear baits were also concentrated. At the conclusion of the track survey on January 18th & 19th, no wolf sign had been detected in any of the areas where it had been documented last Summer and Fall.

Bear Bait in Wolf Caution Area

09/13/15: Bayfield County bear bait in Wolf Caution Area, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Our concern is that illegal killing of wolves is taking place in areas with a high concentration of hound hunting for bear, coyote and bobcat. Online evidence continually reveals a high degree of contempt for federally protected gray wolves by the hound hunting community and it was our suspicion, based on the numerous documented threats against wolves by hound hunters in northern Wisconsin, that these very same people are taking vigilante-type measures to illegal kill wolves despite their federal protections.

John Lobner Fish Hook Threat

07/15/15: Comment posted on Wolf Patrol’s Facebook site detailing how to illegally kill wolves.

Based on this suspicion, Wolf Patrol’s Wildlife Crimes Unit dispatched to Forest County, Wisconsin on January 20th, where a coyote hunting contest for hound hunters was being organized in Argonne, Wisconsin. Wolf Patrol monitors quickly learned that another coyote hunting contest had occurred the week previous to our arrival, and in that hunt, the Laona Hound Hunters claimed the prize money.

Pioneer Press Article

01/18/16: Pioneer Press article on Laona WI Predator Hunt.

Wolf Patrol spent the days leading up to the Argonne coyote hunt slowly driving CNNF roads in Forest County, looking for wolf sign in areas where the competition hunt would later occur. Our concern being that during competitive coyote hunts, the illegal shooting of wolves misidentified as coyotes is probable, especially amongst sportsmen who already despise them. This concern was partially founded on the fact that contest organizers were offering a prize for the “largest” coyote, as well as for the most killed.

Argonne Hunt Poster

01/19/16: Poster advertising Argonne Coyote Hunt.

Our field patrols of the CNNF in Forest County found multiple canine tracks intersecting deer trails in the recently fallen snow, and along the Peshtigo River, a high amount of wolf sign, including evidence of not just one or two wolves, but what we suspect were numerous animals. We placed two trail cameras in the areas with wolf sign on publicly accessible roads to monitor for wolf and human activity leading up to the Argonne coyote hunt.

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01/21/16: Wolf track in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Argonne, Wisconsin.

WP monitors also visited local establishments where the subject of wolves was openly discussed. A high level of animosity towards wolves was quickly discovered, and at the restaurant where the Argonne Coyote Hunt was being organized, I spoke with a hound hunter who openly stated that any wolf seen in the area, was a wolf killed. No questions asked. According to this hound hunter, area residents feared wolves were coming closer and closer to residential areas, so illegal taking was being rationalized as a means to prevent depredations by wolves.

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01/22/16: Main St. Ed’s Argonne, WI, registration site for Argonne Coyote Hunt.

On January 21st, Wolf Patrol investigators contacted lawyers and biologists with the Center for Biological Diversity to inquire as to the legal requirements for competition events on national forest lands. Numerous attempts have been made to prevent contest killings of wildlife on public lands by citing federal code 36 C.F.R. § 251.51 which states that any commercial activities, such as those like the coyote hunt that charge an entry fee, are required to apply for a Special Use Permit. We next visited the Laona, Wisconsin U.S. Forest Service office where inquiries were made about a Special Use Permit for the hunt. A regional representative informed Wolf Patrol that a determination had been made that a Special Use Permit was not necessary.

Patrolling Peshtigo River 1.22.16

01/21/16: Patrolling Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest roads near Argonne, WI.

On January 21st, during local patrols of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in the Laona & Argonne areas of Forest County, numerous non-lethal marten hair traps set by University of Wisconsin researchers were located in the forests. Martens are one of the most endangered carnivores in Wisconsin. Wolf Patrol supports ongoing research projects by the University of Wisconsin to determine population and other biological information relating to the highly endangered marten.

Marten hair trap

01/21/16: University of Wisconsin non-lethal marten hair trap in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest outside Argonne, WI.

On January 22nd, Wolf Patrol monitors returned to the Peshtigo River area where wolf sign had been earlier detected. Our monitors operate as experienced trackers who not only investigate wolf activity, but also human activity in wolf habitat. The entire purpose of our patrol this particular week, was to investigate human activities such as coyote hound hunting in areas where wolves are known to occur. The previously mentioned report of alleged wolf poaching by hound hunters led us to other areas where we knew hound hunters would be active in wolf territory.

Close Up of Baited Hook

01/22/16: Treble fishing hook wrapped with meat, dangling on monofiliment fishing line in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

At approximately 1000am on January 22nd, Wolf Patrol monitors identified human tracks leading off U.S. Forest Service roads along the Peshtigo River. The human tracks followed game trails, and following just twenty feet off the road, the tracks lead to the discovery of three small meat baits, measuring approximately two inches in diameter, each wrapped around a treble (three-pronged) fishing hook. The baits were dangling from monofiliment fishing line that could easily be broken by any carnivore swallowing the bait.

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WDNR Conservation Officer investigating illegal baits found in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

 

Approximately one hundred yards further down the same forest road, two more baited hooks were discovered. Wolf Patrol monitors documented the baits, obtained GPS coordinates, and then drove to nearby Laona, where WDNR was notified. We then returned to the bait site to await the arrival of the WDNR warden. While waiting for the warden, an additional bait was located in the same area, thus bringing the total number of discovered baited fish hooks to six.

At Approximately 1430hrs, a DNR conservation officer arrived on the scene and begun investigating the bait site. A determination was quickly made, that these were indeed illegal baits set for the intention of causing suffering and a slow death to any animal that ingested the hidden fish hooks.

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01/22/16: WDNR Conservation Officer removing illegal baits and evidence.

Wolf Patrol would like to thank the investigating Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer who responded promptly and professionally to this serious violation of both state and federal wildlife laws. Wolf Patrol exists to assist all wildlife agencies in their enforcement of laws meant to protect and conserve the natural resources of our great country, and our reward program was created to aid in the capture and prosecution of wildlife criminals.

HOund Truck on Browns Rd

01/23/16: Hound hunter with snowmobile looking for coyote sign near illegal bait site.

On January 23rd, Wolf Patrol monitors patrolled Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest lands within Forest County, where numerous hound hunters were seen prowling public lands, looking for coyote sign. Our intention was not to interfere, but simply to use our public presence to deter any illegal taking of gray wolves. Knowledge that our crew are in the field with handheld, vehicle-mounted, trail-cameras and drones serves as an alert to would be wildlife law violators that the illegal taking of wildlife will be witnessed, documented and prosecuted.

Argonne Coyotes on Dogbox

01/23/16: Coyotes killed by hound hunters during Argonne Coyote Hunt.

While the U.S. Forest Service did not require a Special Use Permit for the Argonne Coyote Hunt, because the event involved a raffle, the event fell under state gaming regulations that required an additional permit. For this reason, the public weigh-in of dead coyotes and the awarding of prize money was cancelled.

On January 23rd, Wolf Patrol announced a $5,000.00 cash reward for information that will lead to the prosecution and conviction of anyone responsible for the setting of illegal baits and traps for wolves in Wisconsin.

While we were relieved that six more wolves and/or coyotes or other predators did not ingest the illegal baits we uncovered, it’s ridiculous to believe that we were able to locate all the baits set by this particular poacher. More ominously, this discovery leads Wolf Patrol to conclude that wolf poaching is indeed taking place in the north woods of Wisconsin, and according to multiple reports, hound hunters are the prime suspects.

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GPS-equipped hunting hounds attacking a wounded coyote on public lands.

Wolf Patrol will continue to investigate suspected poaching activities on Wisconsin’s public lands, offer assistance to WDNR efforts to combat illegal hunting, and monitor hound hunting for coyotes and predator killing competitions in documented wolf territory as part of an effort to dissuade wolf poaching. We also will continue to conduct carnivore tracking surveys in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, monitor wolf activity in the Moquah Barrens and support efforts by WDNR to ascertain the most accurate assessment of gray wolf populations in Wisconsin as is scientifically possible.

TO THE ETHICAL SPORTSMEN & WOMEN OF FOREST COUNTY, WISCONSIN:

Wolf Patrol will continue its reward program, and offers a no-questions asked cash reward to any individual who provides information that leads to the prosecution and conviction of wildlife criminals. If you or someone you know has evidence of a crime committed against Wisconsin’s wildlife, CALL or TEXT 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367. To email a report of a violation not in progress: LE.hotline@wisconsin.gov

Report-back on the Public Hearing about the Right to Hunt Act

Wolf Patrol’s response to Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage public meeting on Assembly Bill 433 aka: The Right to Hunt Act

WATCH the video of the hearing here. You can jump forward to Wolf Patrol’s testimony at any time which begins at 3:22:00 though we encourage you to watch the entire meeting, then contact your legislators Wisconsin friends!

10/28/15: Today we heard Wisconsin’s bear baiters, hound hunters and commercial trappers cry bloody murder for our monitoring of their recreational hunting and trapping activities on public lands.12063356_417917295074583_4898341874414937424_n

Wolf Patrol’s monitoring in October 2014 of Wisconsin’s wolf trapping season led to the videotaping of a wolf trap illegally set beyond the close of last year’s hunt. This evidence was reported to the DNR’s anti-poaching hotline, and led to an investigation that concluded that the trapper had indeed broken the law. In a private meeting with the DNR’s Chief Warden, Wolf Patrol’s monitors were informed that the trapper had been given a verbal warning. This is the kind of public reporting and monitoring of controversial hunting and trapping practices that Rep. Jarchow and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) wants to outlaw with Assembly Bill 433.

At today’s Assembly hearing, hunter after hunter testified to how they’ve felt intimidated and threatened by our public lands monitoring, yet not one shred of evidence was provided to prove that Wolf Patrol’s investigations have impeded or interfered with their hunting or trapping. Much of the WBHA’s testimony amounted to fabricated stories about Wolf Patrol committing serious crimes so as to foment fear amongst themselves and lawmakers to justify proposing legislation that criminalizes public lands monitoring and free speech.

12188916_417910715075241_130594514664350209_nAdam Jarchow testified today that The Right to Hunt Act was introduced to specifically target Wolf Patrol. He admitted that his legislation was drafted in response to the WBHA’s demand that Wolf Patrol’s citizen monitoring be made illegal. Yet all of their testimonies attested to alleged activity that is already covered in Wisconsin’s hunter harassment statute and anti-stalking laws. This legislation is purely the evidence of a special interest group (Wisconsin bear hunters) using political favoritism to draft laws that violate the Constitution and keep their activities hidden from public view.

The Right to Hunt Act is a direct response to Wolf Patrol’s investigation into Wisconsin’s liberal bear baiting and hound hunting regulations. In 2014, a DNR survey revealed that over 4 million gallons of bear bait was dumped into over 82,000 bear baiting locations on Wisconsin’s forestlands. In Wisconsin, anyone can set as many bear baits as they desire, and are not required to provide the locations to DNR, as is the practice in other states that allow bear baiting. Our 2015 investigation into bear baiting in a DNR-designated Wolf Caution Area documented over 24 bear baits within a square mile of where wolves killed seven bear hunting hounds between July and October, which spans both bear baiting, hunting and hound training seasons.

Our investigation was in response to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s Washburn District request for public input into how to better manage our public forest lands in northern Wisconsin. Our videotape documentation of bear baiting practices was used to educate the public to the creation of Wisconsin’s number one source of wolf conflicts: the allowance of bear baiting and hound training and hunting in areas where it is known wolves have become conditioned to kill domestic animals. Our evidence was used to encourage citizens to submit public comments to the USFS, asking that bear baiting and hound hunting be banned within the Chequemegon-Nicolet National Forest.

UPDATE: The public hearing is being widely reported in the media from coast-to-coast. Here are a couple of media reports:

NPR: Some Wisconsin Lawmakers Claim Bear Hunters Are Being Harassed

SF Gate: Hunters press committee to pass anti-harassment bill

‘Right to Hunt’ Act would criminalize first amendment rights in Wisconsin!

Please sign our petition against the ‘Right to Hunt’ Act here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/841/015/589/right-t…

petitionimage2The proposed ‘Right to Hunt’ Act in Wisconsin would criminalize documenting hunting practices. The act was introduced by WI State Rep Jarchow in direct response to Wolf Patrol‘s work in national forests (public land) in WI.

The text of the proposed Right to Hunt Act (SB338) in Wisconsin is available here: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/proposals/sb338.

There are two public hearings happening next Wednesday 28th in Madison relating to this bill:

9am at 417 North (GAR Hall) for the Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage public hearing: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1205713

10am at 400 Southeast for the Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry public hearing http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1205859.

Our Wolf Patrol crew have simply been filming and documenting bear baiting & hound hunting practices on public lands to bring them to the attention of the public. These hunting practices frequently put hounds and wolves in conflict situations, with hounds dying and wolves being further demonized. Clearly we are having an impact if representatives with hunters interests at heart are trying to criminalize our activities. What are they trying to hide by stopping us documenting hunting practices?

Wisconsin already has hunter harassment laws, and hunters have a lot of protections for their activities on public lands. Please help us stop the ‘Right to Hunt’ act, which would inhibit the ability of ALL residents of Wisconsin to practice first amendment rights on public lands.

Sign our petition against the ‘Right to Hunt’ Act here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/841/015/589/right-t…

Another Bear Bait in Wisconsin Wolf Caution Area

In total, Wolf Patrol has documented over 37 bear baits within the four mile radius of the DNR’s Wolf Caution Area. What this reveals is that, bear hunters ignore the risks their hounds face when loosed in wolf territory. Probably because they know if a dog is killed, they will generously be compensated from Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Fund. So if you think that money you are giving to the state when you buy an endangered species license plate is helping wildlife, you are very wrong. Hound hunters receive up to $2,500.00 for each hound killed by a wolf in Wisconsin.
LINK FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS TO BAN BEAR BAITING & HOUND HUNTING IN THE CHEQUAMEGON-NICOLET NATIONAL FOREST: https://my.usgs.gov/ppgis/studio/launch/35135

Calling Miley Cyrus!

Wolf Patrol’s Rod Coronado has long been a Miley Cyrus fan. So you can imagine our excitement when we heard the pop singer was taking a stand against senseless wolf killings! If any of her fans know of a way to get her to see this video, please share. Coronado made his plea to the singer while documenting illegal bear baiting operations in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where bear hunters hounds are being killed by wolves who see the invading dogs as trespassers and threats to their families. If you would like to tell the US Forest Service that bear baiting in our national forests should be illegal, please send in your comments before September 30th.
LINK FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS TO BAN BEAR BAITING & HOUND HUNTING IN THE CHEQUAMEGON-NICOLET NATIONAL FOREST:
https://my.usgs.gov/ppgis/studio/laun…

Wolf Patrol’s Rod Coronado Appeal to Ban Bear Baiting in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Wolf Patrol’s founder, Rod Coronado appeals to the public to send comments to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, asking that bear-baiting be banned on our national forest. In Wisconsin, it is legal for bear hunters to construct an unlimited number of artificial feeding stations. At each of these, it is legal to dump at each restocking, up to ten gallons of fryer grease, sugary foods, bread and other foodstuffs, all for the purpose of conditioning bears to visit these sites when bear season opens in September. Bear-baiting in WI begins in May and ends in October. Where this video was shot, four bear hounds have been killed by wolves, who also become conditioned to recognize bear baits as a food source.
LINK FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS TO BAN BEAR BAITING & HOUND HUNTING IN THE CHEQUAMEGON-NICOLET NATIONAL FOREST:
https://my.usgs.gov/ppgis/studio/laun…