Holding a trophy hunt on an endangered species just off the list must never be tolerated 

Wolves need your help…

It wasn’t that long ago when Richard Thiel spent every weekend snowshoeing along the Wisconsin Minnesota border in Douglas county searching for established wolf packs.  When he found established wolf packs in Wisconsin the Department of Natural Resources had to give him an office.  That’s when Wisconsin’s wild wolf recovery program began in the late 1970s.

Congress’s Fiscal Year 18 spending bill has provisions that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes.

When I began tracking wolves in Douglas County Wisconsin there were 66 wolf packs (the year 2000). I could of never imagined that eleven years later wolves would be designated a game animal to be hunted as a prized trophy animal.  It did happen on December 28, 2011 “Gray Wolves Delisted in Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment” by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Shortly after wolves were delisted the Wisconsin legislature, pushed by Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and others, on April 2, 2011 Act 169 mandated a wolf hunt. Not only did the Wisconsin legislature mandate a wolf hunt for when they were delisted, but they sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves. When the Wisconsin wolf isn’t listed on the Endangered Species List he’s hunted down with hounds. The barbaric wolf-hounding used for centuries in Europe to exterminate the Gray wolf was now part of Wisconsin’s trophy hunt of wolves.

Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters  to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”Hound hunters traditionally train their dogs to focus on specific prey by releasing their dogs to surround, attack and terrorize a prey animal (e.g. a bear cub or fox) for hours on end (up to 16 hours/day) enclosed in a small, open barrel or “roll cage.” At this point it remains disturbingly unclear as to how hound hunters will train their dogs to pursue wolves instead of other animals—will it be by capturing wolves and allowing their dogs to attack them in barrels and pens? How isn’t this worse than illegal dog fighting?

Holding a trophy hunt on an endangered animal just off the list should never be tolerated, but in Wisconsin it’s legislatively mandated, and considered wolf management.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, charged with overseeing the wolf hunt, has no rules in place that require hound handlers to report dogs injured or killed in the pursuit of wolves during a hunt. In fact, there is no monitoring or certification program whatsoever in place for the use of dogs in the wolf hunt; thus the state has little ability to hold hound hunters accountable for training or hunting violations or to prevent deadly and inhumane wolf-dog confrontations (e.g., hunters allowing dogs to overtake and kill rifle-shot wolves). These circumstances explain why Wisconsin stands alone: using dogs to hunt wolves is no better than state-sponsored dog fighting.

Congress’s Fiscal Year 18 spending bill has provisions that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes.

In Congress both the House and Senate versions include language that will remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Further, the provision would bar judicial review of the action. This language overrides a federal appeals court ruling last year that maintained protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Urgent: action is needed to keep Gray wolves protected.

Urge them to reject these harmful provisions being added in the spending bill, and to keep Gray wolves protected under the ESA.

Here’s an easy link you can use to email your members of congress at democracy.io #KeepWolvesListed! And out of the hands of states, like Wisconsin for one, that sanctions wolf-hounding!

Below I’ve included some history of Wisconsin’s wild wolf for you to read.

It was 1978, and there had been no resident timber wolves in Wisconsin for twenty years. Still, packs were active in neighboring Minnesota, and there was the occasional rumor from Wisconsin’s northwestern counties of wolf sign or sightings. Had wolves returned on their own to Wisconsin? Richard Thiel, then a college student with a passion for wolves, was determined to find out.

Thus begins Keepers of the Wolves, Thiel’s tale of his ten years at the center of efforts to track and protect the recovery of wolves in Northern Wisconsin. From his early efforts as a student enthusiast to his departure in 1989 from the post of wolf biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, Thiel conveys the wonder, frustrations, humor, and everyday hard work of field biologists, as well as the politics and public relations pitfalls that so often accompany their profession.

We share in the excitement as Thiel and his colleagues find wolf tracks in the snow, howl in the forest night and are answered back, learn to safely trap wolves to attach radio collars, and track the packs’ ranges by air from a cramped Piper Cub. We follow the stories of individual wolves and their packs as pups are born and die, wolves are shot by accident and by intent, ravages of canine parvovirus and hard winters take their toll, and young adults move on to new ranges. Believing he had left his beloved wolves behind, Thiel takes a new job as an environmental educator in central Wisconsin, but soon wolves follow. By 1999, there were an estimated 200 timber wolves in 54 packs in Wisconsin.

This is a sequel to Dick Thiel’s 1994 book, The Timber Wolf in Wisconsin: The Death and Life of a Majestic Predator. That book traced the wolf’s history in Wisconsin, its near extinction, and the initial efforts to reestablish it in our state. Thiel’s new book looks at how successful that program has been. Available on Amazon

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Featured image of wolves by John E Marriott 

Wolf news from across the country…

It certainly has been an up and down whirlwind of a week for news on gray wolves. From the disheartening reports out west where wildlife officials are killing members of Washington’s Smackout pack and the Harl Butte pack in Oregon, to the two encouraging news stories concerning Wisconsin wolves.

The first story affecting Wisconsin’s gray wolf was the Washington DC appellate court’s  3-0 decision to retain protection for gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. The court cited that the USFWS had not sufficiently considered how loss of historical territory would affect the predator’s recovery and how removing the Great Lakes population segment from the endangered list would affect wolves in other parts of the nation.

The second story affecting Wisconsin’s wolves was Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filing a criminal complaint citing state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations. PEER has requested a criminal investigation for violation of the Endangered Species Act.  PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco states, “Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.”

“Wisconsin encourages hunting practices that seem calculated to cause fatal conflicts with wolves,” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER

According to PEER, the WI DNR has not been authorized to give payments for hound depredations since 2014, but have been doing so in violation of Wisc. Stat. § 29.888 since then. This statute reads as follows:

“The department shall administer a wolf depredation program under which payments may be made to persons who apply for reimbursement for death or injury caused by wolves to livestock, to hunting dogs other than those being actively used in the hunting of wolves, and to pets and for management and control activities conducted by the department for the purpose of reducing such damage caused by wolves. The department may make payments for death or injury caused by wolves under this program only if the death or injury occurs during a period time when the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list.”

“Wisconsin DNR does not pretend to manage bear hunting in any discernible fashion, nor do they even bother to monitor what is taking place.” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER

Rachel Tilseth, worked closely with PEER in gathering information for this criminal investigation. Rachel reached out to PEER a couple months ago requesting their help and stated that she was impressed at the amount of investigation, research, and digging that PEER did. Read her blog on this story here. WPR will be publishing more on this story. Email us at wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com for more information.

Both of these stories are wonderful news for Wisconsin’s gray wolf, but this is no time to rest on our laurels; we must remain vigilant and continue advocating. US Senate bill S1514 is getting closer to coming to the Senate floor for a vote. This bill would permanently delist wolves in the Great Lakes states, and preclude any judicial review – no appeals period – taking away a fundamental bedrock of our democracy. Our wolves deserve better than this.

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Action Alert! Anti-Wolf Riders in House Bill Funding Dept of Interior

Our politicians are once again using wolves as political pawns and resuming their seemingly relentless assault against them. On Wednesday a House Panel approved a bill funding the Department of Interior and the EPA. This bill contains 2 highly toxic riders which would undermine 40 years of recovery and jeopardize the future of wolves.

The first rider would strip all federal protections of wolves in the Great Lakes region (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan) and allow trapping and hunting to resume after it was put on hold in 2014 by a federal judge. The rider would also preclude any further judicial review of this overturned court order.

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” -Albert Einstein

The second rider would prevent any money from being spent on federal recovery efforts of wolves in other parts of the country – the Mexican gray wolf in the southwest, the red wolf in North Carolina, and the 2 wolf packs that just resettled in California, to name a few.

We need to make our voices heard and let our politicians know that this bill, along with these anti-wolf riders, is not acceptable. Coexistence, not killing,  should be the goal of wolf recovery. Our wolves deserve a better fate than the death sentences our legislators are proposing.

“Animals should not require our permission to live on earth. Animals were given the right to be here long before we arrived.” -Anthony Douglas Williams

Please take a few minutes to call or email your Congressional Representative and US Senators. Links to contact your legislators are here:

US Senate: http://bit.ly/2sGeI1B

House of Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

To read more on the House bill: http://bit.ly/2tgjJOL

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Urgent action needed for wolves: Persuade Your Senators to Oppose S. 1514…

…that directs the Secretary of the Interior to turn over management of wolves to the state governments.

Turning over management to state governments such as Wisconsin would be a death sentence for wolves.  Wisconsin allows the harassment of endangered species:

Wolves are an imperiled species, that are a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy, and are being pushed to the brink of extinction; by conservation policies that favor a group of fringe hunters. These special interest, fringe hunters take advantage of the current political environment. They cause harm to wildlife by the “loosening” of regulations; they pushed for the removal of the Class B bear training & hunting licence that allowed for an undetermined number of dogs running through wolf habitat. That could definitely be the cause of the 37 bear hunting dog deaths. ”  WODCW’s Blog

“I’ve been helping with wolf recovery since 1998. I’ve witnessed the conflict between bear hunters and wolves while radio trapping wolves in the Chequamegon national forest. They’ve hated wolves for decades, and I’ve seen how this sport wears on the people & wildlife living in the north woods. Common sense dictates that; if bear training & hunting license requirements are removed conflicts occur between dogs and wolves. That’s a fact as plain as the nose on your face. If you run dogs on bear through wolf rendezvous sites; conflict will happen. Wolf pups are three months old when bear hunters start running their dogs on bear starting July first.”  WODCW’s Blog

Please take action by urging your senators to oppose S. 1514

How to Contact Your Member of Congress

Member websites provide comprehensive contact information: Click HERE
Send a letter today urging senators to oppose S. 1514


If these politicians: Senator Barrasso (R-WY), along with Senators Boozman (R-AR), Capito (R-WV), Cardin (D-MD), Baldwin (D-WI), and Klobuchar (D-MN) get their way and turn management of wolves back to states, such as Wisconsin, it’s certain death for wolves. 

This is how the state of Wisconsin manages the Gray wolf population


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Ruling is expected soon from the appeals court on Great Lakes wolf protections being lifted

Gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan could find themselves in the crosshairs of hunters as soon as this fall. Source

A ruling is expected soon from the same appeals court that recently lifted protections for wolves in Wyoming. Officials say that whether Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan can hold wolf seasons this fall would depend in part on how soon the court rules.

Meanwhile, wolf-hunting supporters in Congress aren’t giving up even though a Minnesota representative was instrumental in killing an effort that would have allowed the three Midwest states to resume wolf hunting. Source

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Wisconsin can no longer afford to go back, back to the old way of thinking; the killing of wildlife in order to conserve them. For example; Wisconsin spent decades on wolf recovery, recovery of an imperiled species that was hunted to near extinction; then in a shocking twist, the state of Wisconsin legislature mandated a trophy hunt of wolves fresh off the Endangered Species List; 

If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169, wolf hunt. For more information got to WODCW’s Blog