Bear Baiting Violations in Ashland County Wolf Caution Area

 

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.

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Another illegal bear bait in 7/18/17 Wolf Caution Area.

 

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.

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Fresh wolf tracks in 7/18/17 Wolf Caution Area.

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.

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Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association members filming Wolf Patrol filming them…

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.

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Location of 7/18/17 bear hound depredation in Ashland County, WI.

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:

cnnfadmin@fs.fed.us

WBHA Hounders Call Cops on Wolf Patrol…Again, and Again…

 

DAY 23 Wisconsin’s Bear Hound Training Season:
At Wolf Patrol’s July 20th, 2017 meeting with law enforcement officials in Washburn, Wisconsin, one of the last topics discussed was our intention to monitor hunting activities in Wolf Caution Areas, which are a 4-mile radius from where wolves have killed hunting dogs and established by Wisconsin’s DNR so as to “warn” hunters of the presence of wolves willing to kill their dogs. Only in Wisconsin is it legal to train bear hounds in the Summer beginning July 1st. And only in Wisconsin is bear hound training practiced regularly in wolf territory.
Last year, 41 hunting dogs, mostly bear hounds were killed as they were being trained or actually hunting bear in northern Wisconsin. 21 of these dogs were killed by wolves in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) where Wolf Patrol has maintained a base camp, for members monitoring bear hound training in 2016 Wolf Caution Areas.
Bear hunters are compensated up to $2,500.00 from Wisconsin’s Endangered Species Fund, which derives its funds from the sale of vanity endangered species license plates. Last year bear hunters were paid over $90,000 for bear hounds killed by wolves.
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Location of July 18th, 2017 bear hound depredation.

On July 18, 2017 a Plott hound was killed by wolves in a part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Ashland County, Wisconsin. Since DNR alerted the public to the depredation on July 20th, Wolf Patrol has been in the area investigating bear hunting practices such as hound training and bear baiting, which we believe are to blame for wolves killing bear hounds. Wherever wolves kill bear hounds in Wisconsin, you will find bear baiting stations where food waste is dumped to attract bears that hounds can then chase.
At 0650am on the 23rd, Wolf Patrol arrived for a morning patrol to determine whether bear hunters were still training hounds near the 7/18 depredation site. Our patrols have focused on the US Forest Service Roads 183 & 184, which surround the depredation area along the Iron River. On the Iron River bridge, a hound truck was parked. We passed the truck and parked approx. 300 yards past on the shoulder to listen for bear hounds and watch bear hunter activity in the WCA.
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Bear bait less than a mile from depredation site.

From where we were parked, we could see another hound truck parked approx. 400 yards on the opposite side of the rode. This hound truck drove past Wolf Patrol’s vehicle and monitors filmed the hound vehicle as is our protocol. About 15 minutes later, the same hound truck turned around and drove back past our parked vehicle filming us.
At approximately 915am, we saw a Ashland County Sheriff’s vehicle pull up to the two hound trucks parked at the Iron River bridge on USFS RD 183. A deputy spoke with the bear hunters for about 8 minutes, and than drove down the road to talk to Wolf Patrol monitors. We asserted our right to monitor hunting activities on public lands, from a safe distance, and according to the interviewing Sheriff’s deputy, his agency had no problem with us monitoring bear hound training practices, understanding our concerns because of the recent hound depredation.
Wolf Patrol was told that it would be up to DNR conservation officers to determine whether we should be cited for violating the Right to Hunt Act, but that as long as there was no intent to impede or interfere with bear hunters, he wasn’t going to write us a citation. As of the publishing of this article, neither DNR or the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department have tried to contact us about this incident.
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WBHA hounder operating in Wolf Caution Area.

Once again, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) is refusing to tell its members that they cannot trample on the rights of others to monitor their bear hound training & baiting activities in our national forest lands. The bear hunters still running their dogs in this particular Wolf Caution Area, sported WBHA stickers  and are mistakenly informed about the rights of others to access, use and film on Wisconsin’s public lands.
The nature of Wolf Patrol’s meeting last week with county, state and federal authorities was  to affirm everyone’s right to utilize our national forest lands, including our right to monitor activities that we believe are negatively impacting not just wolves and bears, but all wildlife. Research published just this month in The Journal of Wildlife Management concluded that 40% of a black bear’s diet in northern Wisconsin is composed of food waste used in bear baits. That’s 10% more than the black bears of Yosemite National Park in the 1970’s which were being intentionally fed as a tourist attraction until it was deemed a public safety hazard as bears became less fearful of humans.
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Deputy to Hounders; “Sorry guys, Wolf Patrol has rights too!”

We thank the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department for assuring us of our rights to monitor bear hunting activities in the 7/18 WCA. As we have documented in the past, the prolific training of hounds and bear baiting in the CNNF is creating a deadly conflict with wolves. In the 7/18 WCA multiple bear baits were located, from where bear hounds can catch the scent of a bear that visits the bait, and then the chase begins, and in the Iron River area, right through wolf rendezvous sites where young pups are first taken from their dens to learn how to hunt and survive.
The presence of WBHA hounder members in the 7/18 WCA since the depredation indicates that bear hunters are continuing to run their hounds and bait in the WCA increasing the possibility of future deadly conflicts, with wolves. Wolf Patrol will continue to monitor bear hunting practices in this and future Wolf Caution Areas throughout the Summer and Fall bear hunting season.
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The beautiful and serene Iron River…

If you believe that the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest should not be a training and dumping grounds for bear hunters, their dogs and bait, please send an email to CNNF officials at: cnnfadmin@fs.fed.us
It’s time to end bear baiting and hound training in our national forests!

Wolf Patrol Investigating Hunting Practices in Bear Hound Depredation Area

 

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:

cnnfadmin@fs.fed.us

For More Information on Wolf Patrol’s efforts, please visit:

wolfpatrol.org or on Facebook: Wolf Patrol

Wolf Patrol’s Agreement with USFS, WI DNR & Bayfield County Sheriff to Respect Hunting Rights

via https://youtu.be/fHn3V5Ew-jQ

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.