Wisconsin bear hunters and wolves a conflict spanning more than three decades…

..with no resolution in sight.

I was curious as to just how far apart were the two recent hunting dog depredations just outside of the town of Solon Springs. So I went to check it out.  I know this area well. I’ve spent over a half dozen summers and winters monitoring wolves and carnivores near the town of Solon Springs as a volunteer WI DNR Winter Wolf Tracker under the Wolf Recovery Program.  Two hunting dog depredations in Douglas county – On July 9 a six month old male Black and Tan, then on July 23, a seven year old Walker. WI DNR Wolf Caution Areas website  I drove right to the hunting dog depredation site (July 9) and sure enough recognized this as the area wolves have previously left pups at a rendezvous site. During summer months I would scout my tracking block and conduct wolf howl surveys. In this same area in 2002 while conducting a wolf howl survey I  heard pups howling (Photo: rendezvous site & now is a wolf caution area, photo by Rachel Tilseth). 

While walking the trail it was good to see wolf sign. Seeing this sign put a smile on my face. I knew this wolf territory like the back of my hand. Off in the distance I heard the familiar sound of baying dogs.  So I headed to the next hunting dog depredation site.

 The second hunting dog depredation site (July 23) was at best, less than three miles from the site that occurred on July 9th. There was something so familiar about this scenario. It almost felt like I was experiencing Déjà vu, because of all these recurring hunting dog depredations taking place in this area. 

It happened every summer, hunting dogs were killed by White Eyes (name given to the alpha female in my tracking block) as she defended her three month old pups against free ranging hunting dogs in the pursuit of bear.  White Eyes was a tenacious alpha wolf and she defended her pups every summer against hunting dogs running near her pups. 

I had a smile on my face as I recalled all the stories of her killing hunting dogs that ran into her pups.  I respected and admired her. Wolves are good parents and sad as it is for the loss of a hunting dog, White Eyes was doing what any parent would do to protect their children from outside threats. 

Wisconsin bear hunters and wolves a conflict spanning more than three decades…with no resolution in sight…it continues 

As I traveled through White Eyes’ territory I picked up a rock at each stop. I drove to one of her den sites and stacked the rocks together as a memorial to her. I felt her spirit that day though her “tenacious” offspring. 

In loving memory of White a Eyes, Alpha Wolf 2000 – 2009 

‘White Eyes’ alpha female-447F wolf of Douglas county Wisconsin

In loving memory of White Eyes who died in 2009 after being hit by a vehicle. She leaves a lasting legacy as one of the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

A history of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was started in 2012 to draw attention to the plight of wolves in Wisconsin. Wolves were being hunted with hound dogs, trapped and killed shortly after being taken of the endangered species list 2012. 


Additional information and history on this conflict is available in the following blog by clicking on the highlighted blue words: Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights 

Bear hounds die every July at an alarming rate…

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous and end up killing dogs that come into contact with pups near rendezvous sites. Dogs run in large free roaming packs up to 6 at a time in pursuit of bear.  

During training on bear these hunting dogs wear collars equipped with radio telemetry devices. The dog’s handlers are often miles away from the scene in bear trucks monitoring the hounds with radio telemetry or even satellite GPS training and tracking systems. GPS training and tracking systems may have a range of up to ten miles. 


Featured image: John E Marriott Photography

One Reply to “Wisconsin bear hunters and wolves a conflict spanning more than three decades…”

  1. Beautiful and personal testimony to a wolf momma who managed to survive Ten whole years in this hostile human environment. Thank you for being Boots On The Ground, and not just another armchair commentator.

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