Bear hounding leaves cubs vulnerable to being mauled, orphaned and leads to death. Not to mention this sport disrupts other native wildlife, such as wolves that are rearing pups. Other wildlife affected by running dogs on bear over long distances; birds, deer with fawns, and other small mammals. The sport of bear hounding is not part of “fair chase” used in ethical hunting practices.
That’s why; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is beginning a campaign to legislatively end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin.
When this sport of pursing bear with dogs began in 1963 there were no wolves present in Wisconsin. Conflicts arise between bear hunters and wolves because bear hunters run dogs through rendezvous sites where wolves keep pups. Bear hunters are reimbursed $2,500.00 per dead dog killed by wolves forced to defend their pups from free ranging dogs in pursuit of bear.
The dogs pursing bear lose their lives to bear as well. In the north woods I found a rock memorial to Oscar killed by bear on September 22, 1984 and took the following photograph:
Another concern is when bear houndsmen bait black bear starting in April. This bear baiting makes bears more habituated to humans and human’s food. Bear baiting involves intensive feeding of black bears to make them easier targets of trophy hunters waiting nearby.
Bear baiting can harm bears; In late summer and fall, bears go into a frenzied eating behavior, called hyperphagia, as they attempt to gain 20 to 40 pounds per week to survive hibernation. Baiting occurs during this exact time in bears’ desperate search for extra calories, increasing the likelihood of conflicts. Bears subjected to baiting come to associate food with the smells of humans and even livestock. Those who then become habituated to human foods become less shy and more unpredictable, changing their eating habits, home ranges and movement patterns in ways that are sometimes irreversible. Source
The following is a fact sheet on bear hounding from Humane Society of the U.S. Read on:
WHAT IS BEAR HOUNDING?
Hounding involves hunters and guides using packs of radio-collared hounds to pursue bears until the exhausted, frightened animals seek refuge in a tree, where they are shot, or turn to fight the hounds. Hounding results in injuries or death to both bears and dogs and leaves bear cubs vulnerable to mauling, orphaning and death.
Most people feel that hounding is unethical and not “fair chase” hunting as it gives too much advantage to the hunter.
HOUNDING IS INHUMANE FOR BEARS AND DOGS
Hounding orphans cubs, and those under a year old will likely die from slow starvation and predation. Hunters frequently fail to check for the presence of dependent young in a nearby tree, which could alert them that they are pursuing a mother bear. Biologists have also found that hunters misidentify the gender of approximately one-third of treed bears. And in some pursuits, hounds confront bears while they are on the ground; in the melee, hunters may not take the time to try to determine the bear’s gender before shooting.
Especially during hot weather, pursuit stresses both hounds and bears. Bears who have been chased for a prolonged period can experience severe physical stress due to their thick fur and fat layer, which they build to survive during hibernation. Overheated bears can die and pregnant bears can lose embryos.
Altercations with hounds can result in injuries or death to bears, particularly cubs. In turn, hounds mauled by bears can suffer broken bones, punctured lungs or other serious injuries. Hounds may chase bears into roadways, where oncoming vehicles could strike either animal. Hounds are frequently dumped at municipal animal shelters or left in the woods if they do not perform adequately.
Because hounds track bears across large spaces, they invariably pursue and stress nontarget animals including deer, moose, small mammals and birds.
HOUNDING DISRUPTS BEARS AND THEIR POPULATIONS
Bears eat nearly all their nutrients for the entire year in the summer and fall. In many regions of the U.S., black bears feed intensively for three to four months just before they go into hibernation. This frenzied feeding period (called hyperphagia) coincides with most states’ bear-hunting seasons.
In poor food years, hounding makes bears expend energy that they need in order to survive hibernation. Hounds disrupt feeding regimes for both the bears who are chased and nearby bears who are not. Bears must shift their sleeping patterns and become more nocturnal to avoid being hunted.
Hunting black bears also changes their social organization. Hunters and guides typically target larger bears for trophies. When a territorial male is killed, subordinates take their place. The new male will often kill the cubs sired by the original one.
HOUNDING IS UNSPORTING AND LACKS FAIR CHASE
Surveys demonstrate an overwhelming lack of public support for bear hounding. It is considered unsporting—even among many sportsmen—because it is not “fair chase,” the cornerstone of ethical hunting.
Jim Posewitz, author and founder of Orion: the Hunter’s Institute, explains: “The ethical hunter must make many fair-chase choices. In some areas, chasing big game with dogs is an accepted custom. In other places, it is considered an unfair advantage for the hunter. … If there is a doubt, advantage must be given to the animal being hunted.” (Emphasis added.)
Several wildlife managers suggest the public will tolerate bear hunting only if “credible” management programs are in place. This includes setting appropriate seasons, restricting licenses and number of bears killed, and limiting methods of pursuing an animal, such as hounding. Source
Wisconsin is one of the ten states that allow bear hounding. Let’s bring Wisconsin in line with the other 40 states that have banned the unethical sport of bear hounding.
You can help Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s legislative campaign to end the sport of bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Residents experiencing any of the following conflicts due to bear hunters use of dogs in pursuit of bear during training or hunting times are encouraged to file written complaints:
A). Trespassing on private property by bear hound hunters that have not asked for permission, and especially if you’ve posted private property/no hunting signs
B). Noise complaints of baying hounds at night that interrupts sleep
C). Encountering large packs of free ranging bear hunting dogs while using public lands where you feel for your safety
We need these complaints written in order to file a: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to support our legislative campaign to end bear hounding in the the north woods of Wisconsin. Will gather all these complaints to present to legislators.
You can write a letter to your legislator asking them to back Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s campaign to end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin. Click HERE to find your legislator
Watch for updates concerning Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s campaign to end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin.