Category Archives: Hounding wolves in Wisconsin

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 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.



A grave reminder of things to come for Wisconsin’s wild wolf: a species in peril…

Photograph is of a young wolf killed by a hunter that used dogs in the Wisconsin wolf hunt 2014. 

I wrote the following opinion editorial in September of 2014 just before the third Wisconsin wolf trophy hunt was about to commence. Nothing is more shocking than using dogs to hunt down wolves.  Wisconsin is the only state that allows this barbaric sport; Throws dogs to wolves. Wisconsin’s wolf is currently on the Endangered Species List, but for how long? Politicians are working to delist wolves in The Great Lakes region, essentially giving back management of an imperiled species to states, such as Wisconsin, that have a track record of mismanagement. As delisting threats are looming in congress the following opinion editorial is a reminder of things to come. Read on :

Column: Still plenty of problems with the wolf hunt by Rachel Tilseth, September 29, 2014 in Wausau Daily Herald

It is about time states are held accountable for their cruel treatments of wolves, a recently endangered species. Delisting wolves federally put them in the hands of states that haven’t learned from past mistakes. This surely is the beginning of the end for wolf hating state agencies in charge of wolf management.
Wisconsin’s DNR is in the same category as Wyoming’s by demonstrating the same, ‘hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies.’ This is all because DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s handpicked Wolf Advisory Committee (WAC) is stacked with wolf haters.
Several scientists wrote a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services cautioning that vital information is missing from DNR wolf slaughter statistics.
Stepp booted several important scientists from her WAC that could have prevented vital information from being left out of DNR wolf slaughter Statistics in the first place.
Oh, but wait there’s more.
Now Stepp wants the DNR to find out if dogs are really killing wolves in the woods. So listen to this, Stepp’s solution is (to paraphrase) to ask wolf hunters to let federal wildlife officials watch them skin their wolf.
This latest blow for the health of Wisconsin wolf population makes it apparent Stepp’s leadership skills are below standards, to the point of a complete loss of ethics. The Oxford dictionary defines ‘ethics’ as ‘A branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.’
The western schools of ethics break it down into three concepts or codes. The first being virtues such as justice for one. Then the second is duty such as morality. Thirdly that the principle of conduct for the benefit of the greatest number.
We now have a DNR administration completely unable to monitor or enforce if dogs are killing wolves. It is illegal for hunting dogs to engage and kill wildlife. Remember that US Fish and Wildlife Services are supposedly monitoring how well DNR can manage its wolves. After all, wolves were extinct or extirpated from our woods a few short decades ago and certainly could happen again if not managed wisely.
Stepp’s WAC committee is run by citizen pro-wolf hunters that lack a moral compass. It is important to know that these fringe hunters are crafting this wolf hunt to suit their own agendas. Asking the wolf hunters to voluntarily submit to an inspection is outrageous and almost comical. Do you really think any hunter whose dogs just killed a wolf will volunteer for this sham?
This can be compared to asking a serial killer to volunteer to present his human kill to a medical examiner. Where is the professional conduct in this? Where is the justice for the illegally killed wolf/wolves?
The public perception is that dogs are killing wolves and that’s illegal. And rules to monitor this controversial method of hunting should have been in place for the first wolf hunt. We are now approaching the third wolf hunt season.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Stepp must resign for dereliction of duty, because she willfully refuses to carry out her duties as DNR Secretary.
Citizens want wolves in Wisconsin and do not approve of the use of dogs in the wolf hunt. Public input must be respected.