As the conflict between Wisconsin bear hunters & wolves continues concerns are raised over record deaths of hunting dogs 

*Updated 10/29/16- During the 2016 bear hunting season this year 40 hunting dogs lost their lives while pursuing bear. WI DNR didn’t even know how many dogs were in the woods pursuing bear due to relaxed training  requirements; according to WI DNR large carnivore specialist David MacFarland, “And while state law was changed in 2015 to end a license requirement for the summer dog training season, it’s not known if more dogs are being run, he said.”  Source: Wisconsin State Journal (class B required training license was removed) 

North woods residents report seeing bear hounding vehicles from out of state running on rural township roads.

 Does the WI DNR even know the full extent of the carnage? How many wolves have been killed or injured, besides the 40 dead hunting dogs, as a result of unregulated dog training  & hunting season? How many bear cubs have been killed or displaced by packs of free ranging hound hunting dogs? Or even how many deer fawns have been killed? 

WI DNR doesn’t know because the class B license was removed so there is no way to tell how many hunting dogs in pursuit of bear were roaming through the woods.

There wasn’t a significant growth in the wolf population in the areas where the majority of hunting dogs were killed according to David MacFarland in a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal.  Were there more dogs being run in pursuit of bear in those areas that would explain the record deaths?  To reiterate; it’s not known if more dogs are being run, because state law was changed in 2015 to end a license requirement for the summer dog training season. 

Coincidentally, there was a Great Lakes Wolf Summit in September 15  for the purpose of returning wolf management back into the hands of the state, that was sponsored by two republican politicians.  

Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association was one of many hunt clubs that worked for an aggressive wolf hunt and pushed for legislation in 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 that created a mandatory wolf hunting and trapping season as soon as the wolf was delisted. The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s hand-prints were all over this wolf hunt legislation.  Included in this bill was the barbaric use of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.” Read WODCW Fact Sheet on Wolf Hounding  

An error in judgement is being made by politicians & bear hunters that can be related to the adage; don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It takes seconds for a pack of wolves to kill a bear hunting dog that has come into contact with or near their pups. I doubt the dog felt much of anything. You see wolves are carnivores that kill to eat. Wolves are designed for the kill. They know how to kill whereas hunting dogs do not know how to make a quick kill.  Hound hunting dogs are trained to track and trail, then hold the animal at bay until the hunter arrives on scene.  

“Hence, wolves have evolved an intense bite pressure and jaws filled with very strong, specialized teeth, At full exertion, bite pressures have been documented to reach 1,500 pounds per square inch! By contrast, a German Shepherd is known to exert only 750 pounds per square inch, and we humans can only manage a measly 300 pounds per square inch.”  Source: Wolf Education and Research Center 

Bear hounds die every July & August 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. 

The WI DNR has no idea of how many dogs are run through the woods during training season because the class B license was removed. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is beginning a campaign to legislatively end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin. Read more about WODCW’s campaign to legislatively ban bear hounding click HERE 

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 fatalities continue to mount as Wisconsin bear hounder refuse to use caution in and around wolf rendezvous sites. Lack of regulation; the removal of class B training license this year impacted the hunting dog fatalities. 

You can weigh in on the controversy by writing letters to the editor, contacting your state legislators, and keeping the conversation about what’s best for Wisconsin’s wildlife going;

The forest provides a vast bounty of foods for black bears to forage. Wild berries, ripe apples, woodland grasses, and acorns are all natural foods of black bears. 

Dumping human foods in bear bait stations; cooking grease, gummy bears, marshmallows, donuts, and cereals is not a natural part of a black bear’s diet. 

The forest’s ecosystem provides all that the black bear needs. This is precisely why apples or blackberries ripen when they do; all in their good time for the bear, because he needs these calories for his long winter sleep called “hibernation.”

Bear hunters run dogs in pursuit of bear all summer long during the bear’s prime feeding times. 

This is not part of ethical “fair chase hunting.” Nor is this any type of bear conservation. 


WODCW is working legislatively to ban bear hounding


Featured image by Chris Norcott 

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