The never-ending conflict between bear hunters & wolves.

Like clockwork, the same old conflict occurs every summer between bear hunters using dogs and Wisconsin’s gray wolves. Bear hunters use dogs to track and trail black bears for training and hunting purposes in the north woods beginning on July 1. Animal rights activists post about the conflict on social media, and their followers respond angrily to the deaths of the hunting dogs. Animal rights activists have even started following the hunters and the hunters responded by tightening the hunter harassment laws. Much money goes into the conflict through GoFundMe crowdfunding, donations for non-profits, hunter guiding fees, compensation fees, and license fees. The cartoon character Elmer Fudd comes to mind in this senseless never-ending conflict. 

Jethro Taylor (CC BY-NC 2.0)

While hunting, Elmer usually seriously injures himself. When speaking, he replaces his Rs with Ws. So he often refers to Bugs Bunny as a “scwewy” or “wascawwy (rascally) wabbit.” Elmer’s signature catchphrase is, “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits”. 

All one needs to do is replace wabbit with wolves, and you get how futile this conflict has become, especially for the hunter’s dogs that die in this never-ending conflict every summer.  

When this sport of pursuing bears with dogs began in 1963, no wolves were present in Wisconsin. Conflicts arise between bear hunters and wolves because bear hunters run dogs through rendezvous sites where wolves keep pups while off hunting. Puppies are around three months old, and wolves will defend them against intruders like these free-ranging hunting dogs in pursuit of bears. And to top it off, these hunters are very “aware’ that wolves are defensive at this time of year. Like Elmer Fudd, these hunters seriously injured their dogs by ignoring wolf caution warnings put out by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

Those “wascawwy (rascally) wolves killed my dog. 

The Bear hunter receives $2,500.00 per dog killed by wolves as compensation. Money seems to be the root of all evil fits here, and it adds up to a hefty sum for dead dogs. But then I have to ask, is it ever solved or solvable? Or is the problem just a revolving door in the sense that if you addressed the issue and solved it?

What drives this conflict?

The “wascawwy (rascally) wolf has the poor Fudd (Bear Hunter) so perplexed that there is little wonder as to why Elmer would become a hunter and, in some cases, actually proclaim, “I hate wittle gway wabbits (wolves)!” 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND)

Wolves killed a record (40) number of hunting dogs in 2016. Ignoring the white elephant in the room is the cause. In 2015, lawmakers eliminated Class B bear licenses for those who wanted to assist hunters with setting baits or training.  

Fudd kept taking all the wolves’ territory, running his dogs, and bullying the other wolves. 

“If we’re allowing much more open policy, allowing a lot more people to participate in that activity, that could account for the increases of hound depredations in Wisconsin,” Adrian Wydeven said in a 2016 interview.

On July 11, 2022, the DNR released the following wolf caution. The Wisconsin DNR warned the community after wolves killed two dogs in Bayfield and Forest counties.

According to the DNR, the first death was reported on July 8 when wolves attacked a Walker/Plott mix trailing hound in the Town of Barksdale, which is in Bayfield County.

The second death happened in the Town of Alvin, Forest County, when wolves killed a trailing hound.

“Dog owners are reminded to exercise caution in wolf-occupied areas. Conflicts between hunting dogs and wolves are most common during the bear training and hunting season,” the DNR shared in a news release.

“I have something to surprise you today: I am going to demonstrate the appropriate process for hunting, blasting, as well as twacking down a real and live rabbit (wolf)! Now, do not make any sound at all.”

-Elmer Fudd

Several agencies are working to solve problems related to gray wolves and help to educate the public on wolf recovery, such as Earthjustice https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2021/wisconsin-ojibwe-tribes-applaud-state-courts-decision-prohibiting-department-of-natural-resources-from-issuing

Timber wolf Alliance https://www.northland.edu/event/timber-wolf-alliance-speakers-bureau-training/

Contact us at wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com for more information on what you can do to solve the problem.

The Film Project is fundraising!

 

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