One of dozens of bear baiting sites located throughout the Chequamegon National Forest. Wolf Patrol has documented numerous other species besides black bears visiting these sites. It’s our belief that the practice of bear baiting habituates native wildlife, including gray wolves, to alter their behavior to suit bear hunters. This is the first of a series of short videos we will be publishing.
As we await word on whether the Polk County District Attorney will prosecute Wolf Patrol for photographing bear hunters on public lands, we continue to locate dozens of bear baiting stations in the heart of Wisconsin’s wolf country, some with chocolate which the Department of Natural Resources warns can be toxic or lethal to bears and other wildlife, especially cubs.
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
Since July 4th, members of the wolf preservation group, Wolf Patrol have been in northern Wisconsin peacefully monitoring the annual bear hound training season and the baiting of bears by hunters. As part of a campaign to address continued threats to wolves in Wisconsin, Wolf Patrol is asking the Department of Natural Resources to stop the intentional baiting of bears because the practice, which begins in May is resulting in an increase in deadly conflicts between hunting hounds and wolves. Last year, over 20 hunting hounds were killed by wolves. Since being returned to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, hound hunters are being paid $2,500.00 for each hound killed by wolves with money from the state’s Endangered Species Fund.
Members of Wolf Patrol have documented the presence of wolves near bear baiting sites, where hound hunters take their dogs to chase bears and also place food baits to habituate bears to artificial feeding so they will be easier to kill in September, when bear season in Wisconsin opens. Since Wolf Patrol’s campaign began on July 4th, bear hunters have responded by filming and following Wolf Patrol members in Douglas, Washburn, and Polk Counties as they carry out their monitoring of bear baiting and hound training on public lands. Last December, Wolf Patrol met with DNR wardens in Madison, WI to inform them of the monitoring of hound hunting of wolves, coyotes and bears, including communication with wardens as recently as July 8th.
At approximately 8:15pm on July 8th, while setting up camp at the Trade River State Campground, Wolf Patrol members heard hounds barking from Evergreen Road adjacent to the campground. Members began following and filming three truckloads of bear hunters and baiters with hounds from a safe distance and were soon approached by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies who informed them that it was illegal to follow and film bear hunters on public roads and lands, which is in direct contraction to Constitutional rights of free speech. Wolf Patrol told law enforcement officials that we welcomed prosecution which we believe will create more awareness towards the unethical and unsportsmanlike behavior of running down wildlife such as wolves, coyotes, bears, fox, bobcat and raccoon with dogs on public lands for sport.
Polk County Sheriff deputies were unable to issue citations due to what they said was a lack of a statute number and also said their computers were down. Deputies suggested that the three Wolf Patrol members go to the Polk County Clerk’s Office in Balsam Lake, WI to receive their citations. “In every national park in America it is illegal to feed bears, but only in Wisconsin can a person be charged for filming hunters while they feed bears on public lands so they will be easier to kill in the Fall.” said Rod Coronado, founder of Wolf Patrol. Coronado and two other patrol members, Stephanie Losse and Benjamin Haas, will be at the Polk County Clerk’s Office on July 9th to supposedly be charged with hunter harassment. “The intentional feeding of bears not only leads to their habituation to an artificial food source, but it also leads to wolves claiming the sites as their own food source, and defending them by killing bear hunting hounds that are released into the woods to run down wildlife.” Coronado continued.
Wolf Patrol is asking DNR officials to amend bear hunting regulations to reduce the deadly conflict between wolves and hunting hounds.
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!
Wolf Patrol is currently monitoring the annual July training of bear hounds in northern Wisconsin. This is when many hunting dogs are killed by wolves, who are defending family groups and bear baiting sites, where it is legal to pile food in public forest to attract bears for hunters to kill, beginning in September.
Wolf Patrol is asking Wisconsin DNR to change the dates of bear baiting to avoid habituation of wolves to the area which they defend as a food source. Last year, over 20 hunting hounds were killed in northern Wisconsin.
Last week, Wolf Patrol attended Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) public meeting on the state’s wolf population. Each winter, over the last two decades, WDNR & citizen trackers have surveyed the state to keep track of Wisconsin’s wolves numbers. Before being returned to federal protection in December 2014, there were three public wolf hunting seasons in Wisconsin. In 2012, 119 wolves were killed by sport hunters and trappers, and in 2013, over 250 wolves were killed by hunters including 29 with the aid of hunting hounds. The 2014 survey registered a 19% decrease in overall wolf numbers, and last year the hunting quota was reduced to 150 animals, with four more killed by hunters, trappers and houndsmen.
This year’s meeting came with three items that conservationists should be happy about, first, that despite three years of sport hunting, gray wolves have continued to expand into suitable habitat, now numbering an estimated 746 animals (keeping in mind that much of the state borders Minnesota where another estimated 2,000 wolves live and disperse). Secondly, last year saw the lowest incidents of livestock depredations attributed to wolves and WDNR officials were on hand to credit (at least partially) an increase in the use of better nonlethal control methods which have been increasingly used more effectively in Wisconsin.
The third item announced by WDNR last week, was that despite ongoing efforts by WDNR and other states to regain legal control of gray wolves following the December 2015 re-listing decision, it has been decided that there will not be a 2015 wolf hunting season. While it might seem a given that there would not be a hunt after wolves were so recently returned to endangered species protections, conservationists shouldn’t expect wolf hunts to be a thing of the past in lieu of numerous legal attempts to circumvent the Endangered Species Act by state and federal politicians, all with the support of state wildlife agencies. Continue reading
Wolf Patrol has a new official logo! Many thanks to our wonderful friend who created this for us, and does tireless work for so many animals and the earth. You’re awesome Michael! The wolf and deer tracks represent the symbiotic relationship between predator and prey. The split color scheme of the wolf head represents the Anishinaabe teaching that the wolf would always be revered, but also feared and misunderstood. The broken rifles represent our effort to end the war on wolves, and the Thunderbird represents the Anishinaabe nations united in opposition to killing wolves.
Wolf Patrol supports the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s Wolf Protection Plan of 2015, which declares their land a Wolf Protection Area. Additionally, Wolf Patrol supports a buffer zone of at least six miles around not only the Red Cliff Reservation, but all tribal reservations in the Great Lakes, and designating all wolf dens and rendezvous areas within the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan protected areas.
Wolf Patrol stands by the indigenous perspective of the wolf in the Great Lakes, where the recently recovered apex predator, Ma’iingan, is a tribally important species and recognized as a sacred relation. Great offense is done when wolves are legally allowed to be killed by the hundreds with controversial and inhumane methods such as hound hunting, foot-hold traps and snares.
From the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
Ma’iinganag and the Anishinaabeg-Wolves and the Ojibwe
“In a retold version of the Ojibwe creation story, Original Man was the last species placed on Earth. However, unlike all other species, Original Man was placed on Earth alone and not in pairs. When Original Man asked the Creator why he was alone, the Creator sent him a brother, the ma’iingan. Original Man and ma’iingan walked the Earth together becoming very close to each other along their journey. Eventually, the Creator told Original Man and ma’iingan that they would travel separate paths, though their lives would be forever linked and what shall happened to one would also happen to the other.”
Our friends at Minnehaha Wolf Patrol (MinnehahaWolfPatrol@gmail.com) are working hard to stop a new wolf fur farm in South Dakota. Please support and share!
Fur-Ever Wild, a wolf fur farm owned by Terri Petter located in Lakeville, Minnesota is attempting to open a petting zoo in Deadwood, South Dakota but has met opposition due to concerns over mistreatment of animals and the belief her zoo is nothing but a front for her fur farm.
According to a deposition unrelated to the opening of the petting zoo, Petter has admitted to breeding captive wolves in addition to other animals and killing them for their fur. The deposition is available to the public and excerpts have been posted online here.
Terri Petter is currently facing a lawsuit filed by her neighbors in Eureka Township over safety and health concerns.
Shari Kosel, Co-founder and Chair of (SDFACT) South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together, has started a petition to prevent the opening of Fur-Ever Wild in South Dakota.
The South Dakota Animal Industry Board will be conducting a hearing in Pierre, SD tomorrow, May 20, 2015, to listen to objections to the planned Deadwood attraction.
Anyone with concerns about Fur-Ever Wild and the expansion plan please attend the meeting tomorrow at 10:00AM CDT, at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel – Gallery D, located at 920 West Sioux Avenue, Pierre, South Dakota. More info here.