The conflict between bear hunters and wolves in Wisconsin is just warming up, as more hounds are killed during the bear hound training season. To date, three dogs have been killed by wolves and one injured, since training began on July 1st. Wolf Patrol says bear hunters are to blame, for running dogs through Summer wolf rendezvous areas, where wolves have been known to kill trespassing bear hounds before.
In the Wolf Caution Area (WCA) designated on July 18, 2017 in Ashland County, following a wolf depredation on a bear hound in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, members of Wolf Patrol surveying the public forest roads surrounding the WCA found three bear baits, including two which were 30 yards from the road.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations on baiting require a minimum of fifty yards from forest roads. The baits were reported to DNR, but what they illustrate is an inability amongst bear hunters to follow even the most simple restrictions on bear baiting in our national forest, let alone in areas where wolves have killed bear hounds.
Bear hunters use baited locations to condition bears to being fed from permanent sites, from where they can loose their dogs on the bears scent trail after visiting those bait sites. These baits also attract deer and other wildlife including wolves who can claim the bait sites as feeding areas of their own, meaning any bear hounds following bears from those bait sites, stand a much greater chance of being killed by nearby wolves protecting their families.
In Wisconsin, anyone can bait for bears without a license, as long as the purpose of the baiting is for hunting. Otherwise, bear baiters have no limits on the number of baits they may use, only that they can’t use more than 10 gallons of bait at any one time.
Bear baiting alone has become a major problem in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where researchers have studied the practice. In a recent article in The Journal of Wildlife Management, those researchers found that 40% of a black bear’s diet (in the part of the CNNF where they conducted their study) was composed of food waste used as bear bait.
Wisconsin has the longest bear baiting season in the nation, beginning in April, just as bears are emerging from hibernation, to October when bear hunting season ends.
If you agree that its time to end bear baiting and hound training in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, please send an email now to forest officials at:
On July 18, 2017 bear hunters were training their dogs southwest of Mellen, Wisconsin in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, when a hound was killed as it trespassed through a wolf rendezvous area.
Last year, gray wolves killed 41 bear hounds in similar conflicts, though this is only the second reported this year. Bear hunting practices such as baiting and training dogs are the cause for the deaths. Despite the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ designation of hound depredation sites as “Wolf Caution Areas,” Wolf Patrol has documented that bear hunters ignore the warnings and continue to bait, train and hunt in areas where their dogs have been killed.
Last year bear hunters in Wisconsin were paid $92,000.00 in compensation for their irresponsible use of hunting dogs in wolf territory, and that money comes from Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Fund, which derives its funds through the sale of endangered species license plates.
If you agree that bear hunters shouldn’t be rewarded up to $2,500.00 per dog they loose in wolf territory, and that bear baiting and hound training should end in our national forests, please send an email to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials at:
For More Information on Wolf Patrol’s efforts, please visit:
wolfpatrol.org or on Facebook: Wolf Patrol
Since 2014, Wolf Patrol has conducted citizen monitoring of legal hunting practices, including the Summer training of bear hounds in wolf territory in the Washburn District of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF). Last year, twenty-one bear hounds were killed by wolves in the CNNF between July 5-October 1st, including five in the area Wolf Patrol monitors. Our research suggests that Wisconsin’s minimally regulated bear hunting practices are contributing to that conflict.
Since Wisconsin’s bear hound training season began on July 1st, 2017, Wolf Patrol has maintained a base camp in the CNNF from which members monitor bear baiting & hound training practices. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers invited Wolf Patrol to a meeting to clarify legality and also to talk about how best to de-escalate potential conflicts and avoid violence.
Since the 2016 passage of Wisconsin’s Right to Hunt Act, many bear hunters believe it has become illegal to film a hunt (or training/baiting) activity more than once, as the new law states on public land. In recent weeks, members of Wolf Patrol have encountered hound hunters who have told them monitoring bear hunting practices was illegal. Some of these interactions have come close to violence.
On July 20, 2017, four members of Wolf Patrol, (all involved with monitoring duties in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest since 2014) met with Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, a chief law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service, members of the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney. All agreed, that the situation warranted agreements by all parties to respect each other’s right to access and utilize the national forest, and allow both the legal practices of bear baiting & training as well as Wolf Patrol’s right to monitor those activities.
The DNR’s Regional Conservation Officer asked what Wolf Patrol’s ultimate goal was for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Wolf Patrol monitoring coordinator, Rod Coronado, stated that the goal is to see bear baiting & bear hound training ended in the CNNF, but that Wolf Patrol was committed to working through legal channels, such as soliciting public comments to CNNF officials in favor of a ban on baiting & training, while also gathering data to provide both national forest officials and acting DNR conservation officers responsible for enforcing bear hunting/training/ baiting practices in our research area.
In accordance with local, state and federal laws, Wolf Patrol’s members affirmed their commitment to cooperate and work with county, state and federal authorities to ensure that both bear hunters and our own members’ rights are not violated, and that we remain open to working with law enforcement, public lands managers and the bear hunting community towards peacefully respecting and exercising everyone’s constitutional rights to utilize and enjoy our national forests lands.