Fighting Wisconsin's War on Wolves
In 26 seperate incidents, last year's wolf/bear hound fights occurred because hounds were released in wolf rendezvous areas, where young pups are taken by their family members to learn how to hunt and survive away from their dens.
Since 2014, Wolf Patrol has been monitoring hunting practices in Wisconsin, such as the use of packs of up to six hounds to chase not just bears, but wolves too. Wolf Patrol's goal with this campaign is to maintain a physical encampment during the 2017 bear hound training season in northern Wisconsin.
Last year, Wolf Patrol documented multiple hound hunting parties releasing their dogs into known areas where wolves had recently killed other dogs. These hunters willingly risk their dogs lives, knowing that if they are killed by wolves, the state of Wisconsin will compensate them up to $2,500 from the Endangered Species Fund.
This Summer's monitoring encampment will be in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, where Wolf Patrol has also documented a high-density of bear baiting locations, which it has been proven, also attract wolves and other animals.
Our encampment will give members of the public the opportunity to witness for themselves, the practice of training hounds to chase bears and other wildlife on public lands. Wolf Patrol crew members will also train citizens to collect data on baiting and hound hunting activities in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, which we will use to lobby for the end of bear baiting and hound hunting on national forest lands.
The general public is welcome to visit our encampment, we invite everyone to come and discuss controversial hunting practices that negatively impact wolves and other animals. If you are unable to visit, please check out our wish list, which is full of neccesary items that will help make this Summer's campaign effective and successful.
Wolf Patrol is a citizen-monitoring group comprised primarily of Wisconsin & Michigan residents. All volunteers are obligated to adhere to all local, state and federal laws, and work closely with state and federal wildlife agencies to help prevent illegal hunting activities. Come visit us the Summer and see for yourself what bear hunters in Wisconsin are doing on our national forest lands!
Wolf Patrol has returned to northern Wisconsin! We will be monitoring continuing threats posed to federally protected wolves and hunting practices that create conflicts with people and wildlife. It didn't take long for us to encounter the kind of resistance that has allowed Wisconsin to become a haven for unethical wildlife killers. We can't in good standing refer to these people as hunters. They are killers who use packs of dogs, large parties of armed men, satellites, trucks and snowmobiles to chase a single wild animal...and it needs to stop!
Wisconsin hound hunters are violating the rights of others wishing to access public lands and roads, as was proven on January 27, 2018 when local coyote hounders from the Laona area blockaded public roads, detained and assaulted Wolf Patrol's crew.
It is not illegal to photograph hunters in Wisconsin. That is why in July 2017, Wolf Patrol met with county, state and federal law enforcement to discuss the escalation of confrontations from hound hunters who believe otherwise.
The Right to Hunt Act was passed in 2016, but has yet to be used against Wolf Patrol's citizen monitors, because county prosecutors in Wisconsin know the law is probably unconstitutional, and could result in expensive lawsuits for any county wishing to prosecute anyone under the Right to Hunt Act.
We are awaiting word from Forest County officials, who have said they will review the evidence of the confrontation from cameras seized, and will then determine whether any charges will be filed against anyone. Wolf Patrol believes our video evidence clearly demonstrates that we were acting within our rights, to be driving on a public road photographing a hunting party operating in a densely populated area.
We also believe our video clearly shows that one hound hunter used his truck in a menacing and illegal fashion, threatening to run over a Wolf Patrol member and pushing his body with his full size truck. We intend to press charges and hope Forest County officials will chose to send a message to local hound hunters, that you cannot legally assault and detain people taking pictures of your hunting practices in public places.
But if Forest County officials decide to charge Wolf Patrol with violating the Right to Hunt Act or any other law, we will use the county courtroom as a platform to expose the kinds of hunting activities politicians are willing to defend. Hunting and shooting from public roads, closing public roads while they are being used for hunting, and assaulting and threatening anyone who tries to expose those practices in northern Wisconsin.
The dangerous incident in Forest County will not deter Wolf Patrol from continuing its mission to investigate, document and expose controversial hunting practices in Wisconsin. This was the third year we were patrolling public hunting areas in Forest County, and its the third year we encountered angry hound hunters who willingly express their desire to not only kill wolves, but assault those hoping to protect them. We will not be deterred from exercising our constitutional right to lobby for changes to public policy on public lands.
Please join us in the battle to bring an end to unethical hunting practices in Wisconsin! You can contribute to our campaign, or join as a volunteer and train to become a citizen monitor in your own home area. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to represent public interests on public lands and to stand for the wolves and the wild. However dangerous it might be, that is our job!
For The Wild,
Field Campaign Coordinator
As another year comes to a close, Wolf Patrol would like to thank all the people who supported our efforts to protect wolves in Wisconsin. 2017 was the third year we were on the ground in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, monitoring, documenting and investigating bear hunting practices that continue to be a recipe for disaster for wolves and the bear hounds they justifiably kill.
Here are just a few highlights from Wolf Patrol's year:
Wolf Patrol continued to participate in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' (WDNR) Large Carnivore Survey. In 2017, our wolf trackers logged 133 miles of winter carnivore tracking on five separate patrols in Bayfield County. Republican lawmakers and bear hunters in Wisconsin hell-bent on stripping federal wolf protections continually cry that “wolves are killing all the deer” while saying their numbers are out of control.
Wolf Patrol supports the WDNR survey because it dispels myth with science. Enemies of the wolf in Wisconsin want their numbers reduced to 350. Wolf Patrol supports the continuing return of wolves not only in Wisconsin, but in every state where they were hunted into extinction. We support a sustainable number of wolves for the available suitable habitat found in Wisconsin, probably closer to 3,500.
Our participation in the WDNR's wolf survey upset the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) in 2017. In an email to the WDNR, a WBHA member called on the agency to not allow Wolf Patrol's participation in the survey because of a criminal record. To its credit, the WDNR responded that they could not take such action without also applying it to other trackers.
In the end of January 2017, an illegally killed wolf was found near the northern Wisconsin border in Iron County, Michigan not far from where Wolf Patrol found meat-baited fish hooks meant for wolves in nearby Wisconsin. After that discovery, we launched a reward program for information that leads to the capture of any wolf poacher, which was welcomed by WDNR conservation officers in the area.
In February 2017, we returned to patrol national forest lands in Forest County, Wisconsin where we documented a large hound hunting party and were harassed by one of its members. The confrontation with the coyote hunter happened because Wisconsin hunters were misled into believing that the Right to Hunt Act, (passed in 2016), makes documenting hunting activities on public lands in Wisconsin illegal.
No one has been charged under the new law, and in July two of Wolf Patrol's crew members joined an Animal Legal Defense Fund lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law in federal court.
Last year a record number of hunting hounds were killed by wolves, mostly bear hounds, and most in the two month bear hound training season that begins in July, when wolves with new pups are very territorial. In the days leading up to this year's training season, Wolf Patrol occupied a campsite traditionally used by non-resident hound hunters training their dogs in Wisconsin wolf country.
From June 24th until early August, Wolf Patrol maintained a base camp in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, monitoring and patrolling bear hound training activities in the same wolf areas as those we track over winter. Our presence openly challenging the Right to Hunt Act, led to the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association sending postcards to all of its members, instructing them to call authorities if they witness Wolf Patrol filming bear hunting activities.
After another confrontation with a hound hunter turned threatening, WDNR contacted Wolf Patrol and invited us to a meeting with authorities to discuss our controversial tactics.
In late July, Wolf Patrol met with WDNR conservation officers, a US Forest Service law enforcement officer, Bayfield County Sheriff Paul Susienka, multiple deputies and the county prosecutor to discuss Wolf Patrol's conflict with bear hunters. At the meeting, officers in attendance voiced concerns, we expressed our intent to continue to monitor controversial hunting practices in endangered species habitat. Patrol parameters were agreed upon by law enforcement, whereby Wolf Patrol would be legally allowed to continue their monitoring activities. As Wolf Patrol was leaving the meeting, Sheriff Susienka told us, “You'd make good wardens!”
In separate private meetings with WBHA officials, WDNR requested that bear hunters be informed that Wolf Patrol has a legal right to monitor their hunting activities on public lands. In late July, Wolf Patrol was issued a special use permit by the US Forest Service allowing us to hold a skillshare that will become an annual event.
Throughout the bear hound training season and into the hound hunt for bear, Wolf Patrol monitors reported multiple illegal bear baits and hunting violations to WDNR & USFS officials. We also supplied free dog bells to hound hunters running dogs in wolf country, documented wolves and deer feeding from bear bait sites and investigated bear baits in active Wolf Caution Areas.
In September, at the invitation of Sawyer County residents, Wolf Patrol also investigated reports of chronic trespassing by bear hounds during the training and hunting season on properties bordering national forest lands.
Wolf Patrol also testified at a WDNR Bear Advisory Committee meeting in support of Conservation Congress citizen resolutions our members introduced, which would shorten the length of training and bear baiting season in Wisconsin. (Both resolutions were voted down in early December by a committee of mostly bear hunters.)
In addition to our field work, in 2017 Wolf Patrol received national attention not only when our members filed a lawsuit challenging the Right to Hunt Act, but also for our short film on Wisconsin's wolf/bear hound conflict which was also shown at 8 film festivals across the country. In November, fundraising efforts for the full-length documentary "Operation Wolf Patrol" were also successful, helping us with an anticipated release date of June 2018.
Usual Disgusting Plea for Funds!
With continued efforts to repeal legal wolf protections and the introduction of legislation stripping away the authority of the WDNR to investigate wolf poaching and the legal requirement for hound hunters to vaccinate their dogs, 2018 will be a very busy year for Wolf Patrol.
In 2018 Wolf Patrol will increase its citizen patrols of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and continue to work with local residents fed up with hound hunter trespass and careless baiting practices.
This Summer we will again monitor the bear hound training season from our base camp deep in bear hunting and wolf territory, and will continue to investigate bear baiting practices in Wolf Caution Areas.
We reported illegal bear baits as we found them, and were able to respond immediately when federally protected gray wolves killed bear hounds trespassing their territory. We also continued to document the continued use of bear hounds in areas where they were recently killed.
Wolf Patrol was also in the field for opening week of the hound hunt for bear in Wisconsin, and we are asking for your support one more time, to get us back in the field for the last weekend of the hound hunt for bear in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF).
This week we were contacted by a resident of a small northern Wisconsin town, asking for help to address the chronic problem hound hunters are causing, not only in the nearby CNNF, but also on private property. This individual called Wolf Patrol because they ran out of people to turn to for help. Local sheriff's deputies told him he would be cited if he touched the hounds trespassing on his property!
This is our opportunity to help unify local opposition to hound hunting in national forests, while also helping bring illegal hounders to justice. With your support, we will also be returning to an area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest where a local wolf pack recently killed a bear hound, all while hound hunters continue running their dogs after bear in the same areas.
Despite the political power moves by Wisconsin's bear hunters in their effort to make Wolf Patrol an illegal organization, we have forged stronger relationships with local, state and federal authorities empowered to protect our public lands and national forests. Thanks to the large outpouring of support, you helped us carve out a place on the Wisconsin landscape for citizen's opposed to bear hunting practices that endanger federally protected wolves and other wildlife.
Now its our time to use it!
Let's end this year's bear hunt by showing the hound hunters of Wisconsin that they're days of abusing wildlife and public lands are numbered. Let's remind them that when Wolf Patrol is in the field, the whole world is watching their barbaric sport, and together we can bring it to an end!
If you haven't yet, please send an email to CNNF officials, asking them to ban the practice of bear hound training and hunting on our national forest lands.
SEND YOUR EMAIL TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, we have Wolf Patrol t-shirts in SM, MD & LG for donations of $40 or more! (Be sure to provide your size and address!)
On Behalf of the Wolf & Bear Nations,
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.
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.
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 update, neither DNR or the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department have tried to contact us about this incident.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
It’s time to end bear baiting and hound training in our national forests!
Good-looking movie trailer. It's revealing to see the County Sheriff's Deputy misquoting the law and threatening arrest, apparently in order to harass the hunt monitors. I suppose the Deputy was able to claim ignorance of the law in order to avoid prosecution. Otherwise, this would seem to be illegal harassment of the hunt monitors by the Deputy. The law on "interference with hunting, fishing, or trapping" isn't really that complicated. It can be found by searching for "Wisconsin Statutes 29.083," including the prohibitions under item 2(a), especially 2(a)7.
The article referenced in Update 8: Kirby, Rebecca, David M. MacFarland, and Jonathan N. Pauli. 2017. “Consumption of Intentional Food Subsidies by a Hunted Carnivore.” Journal of Wildlife Management, July. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21304. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/jwmg.21304/abstract
When you meet with USFS , Bayfield Sherif etc. They should be made aware of your large cross section of supporters including LOHVWI.ORG, several active and retired Humane officers... also, if you have not yet net with GLIFWC staff such as Peter David or John Zorn. Zorn wrote an eloquent biologically based argument against the out of control Wolf Hunt two and three years ago.
In Update 5, you wrote that "A DNR conservation warden has since explained that it is only illegal to have more than six dogs IN ACTUAL PURSUIT of a bear, but otherwise there is no limit on the number of dogs a hound hunter can have on the ground searching for scent." To the contrary, the 2017 WI Bear Hunting Regulations say that "it is illegal to hunt, train dogs or pursue bear with more than 6 dogs in a single pack, regardless of the number of bear hunters or the dog’s ownership."
I think there was a solution here. I believe that it is illegal to run hounds after sunset. About 16 years ago a friend and I who were stargazing, were chased out of a field by hounds at about 10 pm. To this day I regret never having reported them since there were about 3 pickups traveling up and down at high speeds.
And your downward spiral continues to speed up...lol
you do a great job of informing us...thxs
Rod, thank you for your courageous work in the northern woods of WI, where desperado hounders plunder and terrorize the land and all its wildlife with unlimited baiting and unleashed dogs chasing everything that moves! You're doing great work, and let's hope that your group is recognized on a national level for standing up for non-consumptives who enjoy the wilderness WITHOUT baying hounds, loud trucks, and drunk dog handlers who think they own our national lands!