Action Alert: Contact Wisconsin’s DNR Bear Advisory Committee Concerning the Baiting of Black Bears…

…The Following research concerning the baiting of black bears: Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore revealed some very startling results.  Researchers  found that; humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base. 

In July 2017 I wrote about the new Bear baiting research. This research on bear baiting in Wisconsin is even more relevant now because of the recent news: Officials in Florida have arrested nine people in connection with the “illegal baiting, taking and molestation” of black bears following a yearlong investigation into the crimes. (Source) One of the nine arrested had been hunting bear in Wisconsin, such cruelty towards wildlife knows no bounds! But now is the time to demand justice for our wildlife!

Perhaps changes will happen now with a new Governor and new DNR Secretary. That’s why I’m recommending that activists contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources  Bear Advisory Committee  because the following research concerning the baiting of black bears: Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore revealed some very startling results. 

The baiting of black bear starts in April and goes through to the end of September. That’s roughly six months of intentional food subsidies being fed to a carnivore. Not to mention, that’s a lot of disruption to the black bear’s natural habitat. Over four million gallons of bait is dropped in the woods for the purpose of hunting black bear. Bears are fed donuts, gummy bears, and cereal. Donuts have a high volume of calories, some doughnuts contain partially hydrogenated oils, which aren’t healthy for the heart, and most doughnuts are made with white flour. Glazed doughnuts contain 210 mg of sodium. 

Black bears are omnivores that eat food of both plant and animal origin.

It’s no surprise that baiting black bear is a cause for alarm. It’s been controversial for a number of years. But what’s interesting now is the research points out a number of problems resulting from the baiting of black bear. 

Female consumption of high caloric food subsidies can increase fecundity (the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertility), and can train cubs to seek bear baits. According to the research this can increase a population above its ecological carrying capacity. 

Black bears are omnivorous and spend spring, summer & autumn foraging for Native Forage, included known bear foods; berries, acorns, grasses and sedges, other plants, and white-tailed deer.  

Today, black bears in Wisconsin are being conditioned to search out human foods placed at bear baiting stations. This is influencing the black bears natural habitat. Researchers  found that; humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base. 

The Researchers found that if food subsidies (bait) were removed, bear-human conflicts may increase and bears may no longer be able to subsist on natural foods. 

During its first century, Yellowstone National Park was known as the place to see and interact with bears. Hundreds of people gathered nightly to watch bears feed on garbage in the park’s dumps. Enthusiastic visitors fed bears along the roads and behaved recklessly to take photographs.

High availability of energy-rich food can also alter denning chronology, shortening the denning period. 

The “heart” in conservation is missing when a species is managed for the sole purpose of harvesting it. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates; most recent data indicates the bear population is currently estimated to be just under 29,000 bears. DNR manages bear population size through regulated hunting. In the end, black bears are managed for economic gain through hunting. 

Individual species should and must be managed for the good of the species and the habitat it depends.  “Do not feed the wildlife.”  Let’s bring back the heart of conservation.

Can we learn from our past mistakes? Don’t feed the bears! Watch the following video.

Several dogs in pursuit of bear were “thrown to wolves” over the weekend in Wisconsin’s north woods

Decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves continues with more hunting dogs killed.  Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated the following hunting dogs over the weekend.  A Walker Hound on 8/12/17 in the Town of Blaine, Burnett County.  Then again on the very next day; Two Walker Hounds in the same incident on 8/13/17 in the Town of Blaine, Burnett County. DNR Wolf Caution Areas

In a response to a Criminal Complaint filed by PEER the president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association to a Star Tribune article; said, “As I stated before, with freedom you also have the freedom to make bad choices.  And to hunt in the exact same place that your hunting dogs got killed and eaten is your choice. But I know the vast majority of hunters do not.”  Carl Schoettel, president of Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA).

“Disposable dogs” 

And to hunt in the exact same place that your hunting dogs got killed and eaten is your choice.  ~Carl Schoettel, WBHA

Hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear in the norths woods of Wisconsin run their hounds right through wolf rendezvous sites (where wolf pups are kept). Wolf pups are only about three months old when hunters begin running their dogs on bear. They run hounds through known wolf caution areas; even though WDNR sends out alerts to avoid those areas. In 1982 Wisconsin started a wolf depredation program. Wolf depredation program pays $2,500.00 per hunting dog. In 2016 thirty-seven bear hunting dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear. Several bear hunters received multiple wolf depredation program payments, and even ones with criminal charges; such as poaching a black bear. 

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed A criminal complaint cites; State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes, on August 2, 2017 filed complaint on behalf of an anonymous confidential public employee. 

About PEER (protecting employees who protect our environment) As a service organization assisting federal, state & local public employees, PEER allows public servants to work as “anonymous activists” so that agencies must confront the message, rather than the messenger. 

Wisconsin Hounders Illegally Harass Wolves Criminal Complaint, Press Release:,“Washington, DC — Hunters unleashing packs of dogs to tree bears in Wisconsin woods are criminally harassing gray wolves in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The complaint cites state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”

In a conversation with USFWS Great Lakes Region office over a month or so ago, I asked them if they would investigate bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear, because this activity or sport was getting out of hand; not only were a record number of hunting dogs being lost, but I began to think wolves were being harassed by this activity. Hunters were repeatedly going into Wisconsin DNR Wolf caution areas. “Wolf caution areas are created to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site.” From the WDNR wolf caution website

USFWS never got back to me, and my next step was to call PEER, because I had heard good things about their work. In the end, PEER took my concerns seriously, the result is a criminal complaint letter requesting USFWS law enforcement to investigate. There is hope and it’s a legal one. We are now awaiting a response from USFWS. Read full editorial here

Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights

Handlers that lose dogs to wolves defending their pups can be reimbursed up to $2,500.00 per dead dog (the state’s wolf depredation program began in 1985). It’s a win-win situation for hound hunters that send their dogs in pursuit of bear during training and hunting. In 2016 thirty-seven bear hunting dogs were killed in the pursuit of black bear. 

It’s a mystery as to just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods during training & hunting. Why is this a mystery? Because a change in regulations took place that removed the Class B bear training & hunting licence. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods. WODCW Blog

According to 2016 Wisconsin Bear Hunting Regulation on WI DNR website It is legal to train dogs in Zones A, B, and D during the season when hunting bear with aid of dogs is open. While hunting bear, or training dogs to pursue bear during the open season for hunting bear, it is illegal to:
-hunt or train dogs to pursue bear before or after established hunting hours;
-hunt bear with dogs in Zone C;
-train dogs by pursuing bear except during times stated above;
-hunt or train dogs unless one person in the group has on their
person rabies tags and dog license tags for each dog;
-hunt, train dogs, or pursue bear with a dog that is not tattooed or wearing a collar displaying the owner’s name and address;
-hunt, train dogs or pursue bear with more than 6 dogs in a single pack, regardless of the number of bear hunters or the
dog’s ownership;
Note: dogs that fall out of the chase may be replaced, but no more than 6 dogs may be used to pursue bear.
-allow the dogs to kill any wild animal;
-hunt or pursue any free-roaming wild animal with the aid
of any dog, May 1 to June 30 north of the highways shown on the map below, except for approved dog trials and training on free-roaming rabbits or raccoons under a hound dog trial or training license

  

Decades-old conflict between bear hunters & wolves in the north woods of Wisconsin 

Wolf pups are born around mid-April and are approximately two and a half months at the time WI bear hunters begin training dogs on bear starting July first. Typically wolves leave their pups at a rendezvous site for safe keeping to be watched over by a babysitter.  The pup’s family members keep a  close eye on the rendezvous site while off hunting.

 The following is what the WI DNR has to say about wolf rendezvous sites:  Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites and will attack other predators, including dogs, that get too close to the rendezvous site or the pups. Wolves are probably most aggressive toward strange wolves and dogs at den and rendezvous sites when their pups are small, during the breeding season in January and February and when they are protecting a fresh kill.

Found within a wolf pack’s territory, den and rendezvous sites are specific locations used for breeding and other pack activities. Wolves begin moving their young pups from dens to rendezvous sites from mid-March to mid-May. Rendezvous sites are actively used from mid-May to mid-October.

  

Photo: A Wisconsin wolf puppy at a den site.  WI DNR photograph 


Bear hounds die every July at an alarming rate…in 2016 over 37 lost lost thier life in the pursuit of bear

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups 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. 

  

Wisconsin is the only state that reimburses for dogs killed by wolves in the pursuit of bear.

Handlers that lose dogs to wolves defending their pups can be reimbursed up to $2,500.00 per dead dog. It’s a win win situation for hound hunters that send their dogs in pursuit of bear during training and hunting. 

The Wisconsin Wolf Recovery Program made it possible for the wolf to reclaim a part of his historic range. That’s a success story!

The conflict between wolves and bear hunters that use dogs has been around for decades. Wolves have been recovering in Wisconsin since the late 1970s. Wolves are a federally  protected species under the Endangerd Species Act in the Great Lakes Region.  

In the fall of October 2010 Wisconsin Public Television did a story about ‘Bear Hunters and Wolves’ watch the following video:

In the 1960s Wisconsin started allowing the use of dogs in the pursuit of bear. At that time there were maybe a handfull of wolves in Wisconsin if any.  Wolves have resided in Wisconsin for centuries prior to Europian settlement. Europian settlers arived with livestock in tow, & along with the old story book myths of the the big bad wolf. A few centuries later, by the 1960s, wolves were extirpated from the Wisconsin landscape. Wolves were not a threat to bear hunters because they were all but wiped out of Wisconsin by the 1960s. 

Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association was one of many hunt clubs that worked for an aggressive wolf hunt and pushed for  legislation 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 wolves. Wisconsin became the only state that allows the use of dogs to run down and kill wolves.

   

‘No Grounds For Hounds’ design by Ned Gannon

Every year starting in July, the north woods of Wisconsin runs blood red with conflict between wolves and dogs in the pursuit of bear. Is this a win-win situation for their handlers that are reimbursed up to $2,500.00 per dead dog? 

The WI DNR puts out warnings. The following is from WI DNR website’s Caution areas, dogs and wolf behavior.

“When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will create wolf caution areas to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site. Table 1 contains a summary of the 2016 dog depredations by wolves.”

There is even a new interactive map for hunters using dogs on the WI DNR website called Gray Wolf Depredation Mapping Application

Click on the blue highlighted words and bingo you have all this information at your finger-tips. All of this information is available for hunters using dogs in the pursuit of bear and maintained for their convenience by the WI DNR – in order to prevent wolf-on-dog- fights in the north woods during bear training with dogs. 

Why is this wolf-on-dog-fights such a conflict? 

I started working on the Wisconsin wolf recovery program as a volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker in the year 2000.  I lost track of how many “no-wolf” bumper stickers I encountered in a day of tracking in the the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This conflict between bear Hunters and wolves is decades old.

Wolves are here to stay and hopefully attitudes can be softened. Bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear are reminded to check WI DNR Website’s for updates on wolf and dog caution areas.

The public is welcome to contact the Bear Advisory Committee for more information contact Dave MacFarland, Carnivore specialist at 715-365-8919.

Take action for Wisconsin’s wildlife…

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:

Trespassing on private property, noise complaints or if you feel unsafe while using public lands call local law enforcement and file a written complaint. Start a paper trail.

If you come across a lost hunting dog with a GPS collar on please contact your local law enforcement. They will advise you on what to do. 

Any suspected violation of poaching call the tip line Violation Report 

Call or text 1-800-847-9367

Another issue to address through WI DNR is the controversial practice of bear baiting. Tons of sweet treats are fed to Wisconsin’s 28,000 black bears. Refer any and all suggestions on this practice to your legislators Click Here to find you legislator
~~~


~~~
*please note; Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is not affiliated or aligned with any other Wisconsin wolf & wildlife organizations. WODCW is an independent news source, action alerts, education, awareness & advocacy that practices compassionate conservation ethics.  WODCW’s main focus is on Wisconsin’s wild wolf, but is active throughout the Great Lakes Region, the USA and international.