Tag Archives: black bear

A Mother black bear will teach her cubs everything they need to know in order to survive.

The Black Bear moves softly through the berry patch showing her cubs the way, teaching her cubs where to find food, just like her mother taught her generation after generation, until…

The men laid out sweet smelling donuts hidden in a hollow log that tempted mother bear, and she used her strong paws to gain access to the sweet smelling treats. Thereafter, the silence in the forest was broken in by the noise of hollering hounds. These hollering hounds chased mother bear and her terrified cubs through the thick forest. Their hearts beating fast as they tried to out run the mob of noisy hounds. Along the way a mother deer and her fawn were chased up by the mob, and soon the once quiet forest rang with the sent of fear. Mother bear sent her cubs quickly up a tree, and made herself the decoy, and led the mob of hollering hounds away from her precious cubs. Exhausted mother bear climbed a tree, with the mob of hounds hollering below, the sounds of men is soon heard along with a shot of thunder ending mother bears life…

As mother bear dies she’s slips off of the tree branch hitting the ground below, and the mob of hollering hounds begin to nip and bite at her lifeless body. The men turned her lifeless body over exposing her belly, discovery they’ve killed a mother Black Bear by mistake, and it’s illegal to kill any Black bear accompanied by a cub or cubs. The men decide it’s an easy fix because they never saw any cubs during the chase because they lost sight of their dogs. High tech collars with radio telemetry tracking devices are used to follow the dogs from up to five miles or more away from the chase. So it’s a good excuse for bear hunters to use for killing mother bear because they never saw the cubs accompanying her.

The mother’s cubs cling to the upper branches of the tree balling loudly, but go silent when they hear the shot of thunder in the distance. The shot that ended their mother’s life silenced their cries. The nine month old bear cubs begin searching for the scent of their mother in the air around them. They’ve been taught to stay in the tree until she calls for them. The cubs sit quietly in the tree waiting for the all clear signal from their mother. Its unbearably hot in September, and the cubs are getting thirsty. They chew on tree leaves like their mother taught them to get some needed moisture. The cubs wait into the night with no all clear sign from their mother. During the night the cubs are awakened by sounds of brother wolf and sister barred owl. The cubs go silent when they hear these calls just like their mother taught them to do. The cubs begin to feel hunger pangs in their stomachs as the first morning light hits the tree tops. The cubs ball loudly calling for their mother. Tears run down their cheeks. There is no sign of their mother. The hungry and thirsty cubs scurry down the tree trunk to the forest floor. They put their noses into the air and begin smelling it for any signs of danger just like their mother taught them.

The thirsty black bear cubs catch the faint smell of moisture floating through the air and head towards it. They find an opening in the forest that leads to a small lake.

The video is from The North American Bear Center A 6-year-old wild black bear female with cubs of the year feeding on a variety of vegetation in the early spring.

The cubs will stay with their very protective mother for about two years. In that two years she will teach them everything they need to know in order to survive. But what happens when two nine month old orphaned black Bear cubs are left to fen for themselves in the Wisconsin north woods? All because of greedy men? Find out what happens to the Hungry Orphaned Black Bear Cubs in the next installment of the series on WODCW’s blog…this is a fictional story based on research of the natural history of Black Bear habits.

Today, where the wild-creatures-live has become a war zone in Wisconsin. And it’s all in the name of sport. In Wisconsin’s north woods it’s common to see and hear hunter’s dogs running through the woods in pursuit of bear. These hunter’s dogs disrupt families; bear cubs are separated from their mothers, foraging black bears are kept on the move, and how about the White-tailed deer forced to protect her fawn from packs of free roaming hunting dogs in pursuit of bear. Gray wolves defending their pups kill hunter’s dogs in a never-ending-game played out in Wisconsin’s forests year after year.

Individual species should and must be managed for the good of the species and the habitat it depends. 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.

A cause for concern….

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.

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

In 1963 Wisconsin allowed the use of dogs in pursuit of black bears. It’s been an expensive mistake both in the lives of dogs & Wildlife. Hunter’s are compensated $2,500.00 for each dog killed by wolves during training & hunting with dogs in pursuit of black bear.

Please Take Action…

Find your legislators here.

Bill Lea has been observing and photographing Black Bears.

The following is from Bill Lea Photograply’s Facebook post:

It always makes me nervous when I see cubs playing high in a tree even if mom is right there overseeing everything. Sometimes I have even watched mother bears initiate play with their cubs while in the treetops. Cubs can and do fall from trees on occasion suffering injury or even death at times. But overall, bears feel about as comfortable and at ease in tree limbs high above the ground as they do on the ground itself. It is just so natural for them to be up there. Nonetheless, I still worry about them when they are so high, especially when they decide to play — even if mom is next to them making sure everybody behaves. Regardless, it is great fun watching a bear family interact and enjoy life together on the ground or high above in the treetops..

Featured image by Bill Lea

June 8, 2020

The bear and the wolf are the two of the most powerful spirits in the forest

Photograph credit John E Marriott

An essay by guest blogger Barry Babcock

I decided to re-share Barry’s essay because Wisconsin’s wild gray wolf is about to face hound hunter’s dogs in a proposed wolf hunt for November 2021. Wisconsin is the only state that allows hunters to use dogs to track & trail wolves. Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves. Rachel Tilseth

“The Cherokees….put bears in a special category. To the Cherokees, the bear represented the division between people and animals, and bears were descended from people. Long ago, according to a Cherokee legend, all the Cherokees in a certain town decided to live in the forest with the animals, so that they would always have enough to eat. Other Cherokees sent messengers to the forest to try to persuade them to come back, but when the messengers arrived they saw that the people already had long black hair like bears. The bear-people refused to return.  ‘Hereafter we shall be called bears and when you yourselves are hungry, come into the woods and call us and we shall come and give you our flesh,’ one of the bear-people said. ‘You shall not be afraid of us, for we shall live always.’

“As the messengers were leaving they looked back, and saw a group of black bears going into the forest.

“This legend illustrates the Cherokees’ belief that a bear did not really die when it was apparently killed. It simply returned to its home in the forest or swamp, and resumed its life. This belief, which was shared by most Native American Indians, explains how these people were able to kill an animal they regarded as almost human or god-like. Nevertheless, holding this animal in such high regard required that the hunting of it and other actions connected with its death be carried out in a certain way. If these rules were not followed, the bear’s ghost would take revenge on the killer.” [“Black Bear –The Spirit of the Wilderness” Barbara Ford, pg 43-44]

Where I live in northern Minnesota and where many of my friends live in northern Wisconsin, bears have made a remarkable come-back since the 1970’s when bear populations had been decimated. In Minnesota, bears were classified by our DNR as “vermin” and could be killed day or night, year round. It was legal to shine them at night or kill them in their dens. Bear sightings were a rare event. But since protections were implemented and bears recovered, an economic take-over of hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits has affected these endeavors like a creeping malady. I call this economic disorder; the recreation/industrial complex. Our public lands and plant and animal communities have become market places for a vast network of corporations aimed at redefining what is hunting and turned hunting into more about consumption than a real experience in nature. We have lost what respect we had for game species and now see them appeasements to our insatiable appetite for ego aggrandizement and a plethora of contraptions. Little respect is left for the quarry.

I do not wish to get into a blame game or that my state is better than other states but perhaps the most deplorable treatment of bears is in Wisconsin where hounding is permitted by law. The disregard for both bear and dog is nothing short of barbaric. And now the wolf too is found in the vortex of this debate. The debate and struggle in Wisconsin has made all of us take a deeper look at bear hunting and the impacts of baiting, hounding, harassment, ethics and the role of mega predators like the bear and the wolf in our natural ecosystems. None of this is to say, Minnesota has it right, as it doesn’t. There are licensed bear guide services in Minnesota that have up to one hundred bait stations that cater to the bear hunter with the hopes of killing a huge bear yet the average bear killed is more likely to be a 130 to 150 pound three year old that hasn’t been on its own for three years. The trails servicing these baits are hammered by ATVs and are all on public lands yet the public has little to say about the ethics of this. The special interests and dollars of groups like the Sportsman Caucus have the ear of legislators.

The debate and struggle in Wisconsin has made all of us take a deeper look at bear hunting and the impacts of baiting, hounding, harassment, ethics and the role of mega predators like the bear and the wolf in our natural ecosystems.

The whole notion of baiting is for humans who are either too stupid to figure out the habits of bears and think they can bring a bear to them. A good hunter would understand the status of the forest plant community and that would put him where the bears should be without the use of baits. I have witnessed hunters bringing in pickup truck loads of bait and dumping it in the woods. The success rate should dictate that this method doesn’t work but most hunters just don’t get it. Sure, a few hunters get lucky and take a larger and more mature bear but not the greater majority. It’s young, immature bears who haven’t learned to ignore baits till well after dark that are mostly killed.
I have been a hunter for over fifty years but now find my hunting restricted to deer and ruffed grouse. As I age, I find my desire to take a life harder to do. I let more deer pass by me and come up with excuses to not take the animal such as; there is a fawn with the doe, or the buck is too young, or it’s too early in the season and I don’t want to use my tag now and have such an early end to my hunting season. Concerning bears, I applied for a license in 1996 and was drawn but the spirit and desire to kill a bear wasn’t there and I went out once and that was enough. I live on a bear travel corridor and see and photograph many bears and I could never find myself taking the life of a bear. I see them as neighbors and acquaintances. I am in their home.

Photograph credit by John E Marriott

Where I live in Minnesota, I am surrounded by the three largest Indian Reservations in the state and have many native friends. Of these friends, I was lucky to know Chi Ma’iingan (aka, Larry Stillday), the late great Ojibwe spiritual leader of Red Lake. He taught me about the “Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers” which helped me connect some dots in my life that were yet unconnected. He made me realize that by observing all wildlife has teachings and value that will make me a better human being. Wild animals can and will teach us if we take the time to observe with open minds. “When people are balanced and in-harmony with our Earth Mother the animals know that, that’s what the old people used to say is the animals are talking to us, sometimes they use sound, but most of the time they use their behavior, its therefore up to us to be able to read what their acting out.” Chi Ma’iingan

All the earth’s living organisms will do just fine without us but we need these same communities to survive. These teachings; love, respect, humility, courage, wisdom, truth and honesty are incorporated into the teachings of the eagle, buffalo, wolf, bear, beaver, turtle and Masabe (the wilderness man or big foot.)

These are the teachings of Makwa (the bear) as taught by Chi Ma’iingan:

• To have the courage of the bear is to overcome our fears that prevent us from living out our true spirit as human beings.

• To have courage is to have the mental and moral strength to listen to our heart.

• In the natural world the BEAR shows us the spirit of courage.

• By nature it is very gentle, but if you show any sign of approaching a bear cub it will display total fearlessness in defending her cub.

• The bear represents power, industriousness, instinctive healing, gentle strength, introspection, dreams and living of the heart-living spirit.

• The bear is very close to the land and brings many medicines to our people.

• When we have a hard time in our life, whether it be something we’re going through or a decision we have to make and we are afraid, we can call on the spirit of the bear to help us have the courage and strength to do the right thing for our life.

• The bear is the part of self that needs to retreat into its own space, hibernate and heals itself.

• It is comforting and protective and a common animal spirit for Mothers.

The bear and the wolf are the two of the most powerful spirits in the forest. Anyone experiencing the bear will immediately feel its power; both spiritually and physically. Though the bear is by nature a peaceable animal it has incredible strength and speed. They deserve our respect and their right to exist unmolested and peace in their home. To harass with hounds and spread bait over the forest as is happening in Wisconsin is crossing the line of moral decency and only benefits Cabala’s, Gander Mountain, ATV manufacturers, and a long line of corporations that are profiting off miss-guided hunters and the bear himself. The first lesson we need to learn from Makwa is his teaching of “courage” and that also means having the courage to do what is right.

Doing the right thing in regards to living in peace with Mother Earth can start with taking seriously the “seven teachings” of our Anishinaabe neighbors. This is what it means to be a better human being. The bear is not a commodity to bring hunting revenue into a state. The bear is one of the Creators great achievements. The bear has reached the zenith of evolutionary achievements; he is a teacher of medicinal herbs, healing, industriousness, introspection, dreams and living of the heart-living spirit and most importantly “courage”

I would hope that the Cherokee belief, “… holding this animal [the bear] in such high regard required that the hunting of it and other actions connected with its death be carried out in a certain way. If these rules were not followed, the bear’s ghost would take revenge on the killer.” Hopefully our miss-guided social attitudes towards the bear and other life will be altered someday and those who have no respect or ethics towards the bear will be heaped with scorn and learn to walk the good path in a good way and learn to respect Makwa.

“As I penned this essay on my experiences with Makwa, it was early January, in the midst of winter and the bears were asleep in their dens. I do not prefer to write in the winter, but it is the most convenient time to do so. The rest of the year is consumed by chores of gardening, ricing, maple sugaring, putting up firewood, hunting, fishing, and other labors of love. I look forward to winter as my chores are completed, the days are short and the nights are long. Winter has become the time of year for sleeping in the long nights, taking walks in the silence of winter, reflecting on myself and loved ones, and getting my mind right. It is the bear within me, or as Larry said, “The bear is the part of self that needs to retreat into its own space, hibernate and heal itself.” It is now that I remember the bear people who I live with and take healing in the messages they give me. When winter ends and spring comes, and when the first bear comes to see me in late April, I will be most pleased to see them again, my teacher, Makwa, and when I do meet Makwa again, I will think of his courage and know that his teaching means having the courage to do what is right.” [“Teachers in the Forest”] 

Teachers In the Forest
This collection of essays, from one of Minnesota’s prominent voices for the environment, discuss the author’s connection to the wild. He shares his experiences living off-grid, harnessing solar power from the sun, pumping his water well by hand every day, hunting, fishing, and gathering, all as part of the natural world, and not above it.

This is also a philosophical adventure, as Babcock discusses how traditional scientists and native American spiritual leaders have arrived at the same concept of protecting our environment, but by use of completely different methods, theories, and practices of living.

Babcock has been active in defending Minnesota’s environment for more than two decades, and was recently featured in the documentary film: MEDICINE OF THE WOLF. 

About Barry Babcock 

Barry walks the walk. He and his wife Linda own 40 acres living literally “off the grid.” You’ll read stories of that land, about gardening, a hidden lake, three dogs, a gas refrigerator, an outdoor hand pump, with 100% of their electricity generated from solar collectors. The author fishes, hunts with a bow, wild rices, and does sugar bush.
 

The 2019 Wisconsin black Bear Management draft plan is now available to the public for comment.

Click the highlighted words to read, review and comment on the plan.

A draft of the revised bear management plan is now available for viewing.

There will be six public information sessions (topic list available here) as well as an electronic comment tool beginning March 25. If you would like to provide comments on the 2019 – 2029 Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan, please submit them to DNRBearPlanComments@wisconsin.gov by midnight on Sunday, April 14.

  • Monday, March 25, 7-9 p.m.: Rm. 101 Commons Building, UW Milwaukee-Waukesha, 1500 N University Dr. Waukesha
  • Tuesday, March 26, 7-9 p.m.: Pippin Room, Melvill Hall, UW Platteville-Richland, 1200 Hwy. 14W, Richland Center
  • Wednesday, March 27, 7-9 p.m.: Great Room, Lunda Community Center, 405 Hwy 54 W, Black River Falls
  • Monday, April 1, 7-9 p.m.: 236 Ritzinger Hall, UW Eau Claire-Barron County, 1800 College Dr., Rice Lake
  • Tuesday, April 2, 7-9 p.m.: Room 180 Main Building, UW Stevens Point- Wausau, 518 S 7th Ave, Wausau
  • Wednesday, April 3, 7-9 p.m.: Woodruff Community Center, 1418 1st Ave, Woodruff

Wisconsinites it’s time for change concerning how our black bears are managed, or to be straight forward; how they are abused! Individual species should and must be managed for the good of the species and the habitat it depends. 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. And it’s having a devastating effect on bears! It’s time to ban running dogs on bears, and baiting.

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.

The Hungry Orphaned Black Bear Cubs…

Mother bear sends her cubs quickly up a tree, as she makes herself the decoy, and leads the mob of hounds away from her precious cubs. Exhausted she climbs a tree, the mob of hounds hollering below, the sounds of men is heard along with a shot of thunder ending mother bears life…

The following is a fictional story based on natural history of Wisconsin’s black bear.

As mother bear dies she slips from the tree branch hitting the ground below, and the mob of hollering hounds begin to nip and bite at her lifeless body. The men turn her lifeless body over exposing her belly, discovery they’ve killed a mother Black Bear by mistake, and it’s illegal to kill any Black bear accompanied by a cub or cubs. The men decide it’s an easy fix because they never saw any cubs during the chase because they lost sight of their dogs. High tech collars with radio telemetry tracking devices are used to follow the dogs from up to five miles or more away from the chase.

The mother’s cubs cling to the upper branches of the tree balling loudly, but go silent when they hear the shot of thunder in the distance. The nine month old bear cubs begin searching for the scent of their mother in the air around them. They’ve been taught to stay in the tree until she calls for them. The cubs sit quietly in the tree waiting for the all clear signal from their mother. Its unbearably hot in September, and the cubs are getting thirsty. They chew on tree leaves like their mother taught them to get some needed moisture. The cubs wait into the night with no all clear sign from their mother. During the night the cubs are awakened by sounds of brother wolf and sister barred owl. The cubs go silent when they hear these calls just like their mother taught them to do. The cubs begin to feel hunger pangs in their stomachs as the first morning light hits the tree tops. The cubs ball loudly calling for their mother. Tears run down their cheeks. There is no sign of their mother. The hungry and thirsty cubs scurry down the tree trunk to the forest floor. They put their noses into the air and begin smelling it for any signs of danger just like their mother taught them.

The cubs will stay with their very protective mother for about two years. In that two years she will teach them everything they need to know in order to survive. But what happens when two nine month old orphaned black Bear cubs are left to fen for themselves in the Wisconsin north woods? All because of greedy men? Find out what happens to the Hungry Orphaned Black Bear Cubs in the third installment of the series on WODCW’s blog…

Today, where the wild-creatures-live has become a war zone in Wisconsin. And it’s all in the name of sport. Hunter’s dogs run through the woods in pursuit of bear disrupting families; bear cubs are separated from their mothers, foraging black bears are kept on the move, and how about the White-tailed deer forced to protect her fawn from packs of free roaming hunting dogs in pursuit of bear. Gray wolves defending their pups kill hunter’s dogs in a never-ending-game.

Individual species should and must be managed for the good of the species and the habitat it depends. 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.

Watch the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources promotional video about hunting Black Bear

A cause for concern….

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.

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

In 1963 Wisconsin allowed the use of dogs in pursuit of black bears. It’s been an expensive mistake both in the lives of dogs & Wildlife. Hunter’s are compensated $2,500.00 for each dog killed by wolves during training & hunting with dogs in pursuit of black bear.

Please Take Action…

Contact your Wisconsin State Legislature:

Click here for more information.

Bill Lea has been observing and photographing Black Bears.

The Featured Image and the following is from Bill Lea Photograply’s Facebook post:

It always makes me nervous when I see cubs playing high in a tree even if mom is right there overseeing everything. Sometimes I have even watched mother bears initiate play with their cubs while in the treetops. Cubs can and do fall from trees on occasion suffering injury or even death at times. But overall, bears feel about as comfortable and at ease in tree limbs high above the ground as they do on the ground itself. It is just so natural for them to be up there. Nonetheless, I still worry about them when they are so high, especially when they decide to play — even if mom is next to them making sure everybody behaves. Regardless, it is great fun watching a bear family interact and enjoy life together on the ground or high above in the treetops..

Please Take Action: Only You Can Prevent #Extinction…

As a child growing up in the sixties I learned to respect our fellow creatures and to set things right. But…

“The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same.” ~Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Today, where the wild-creatures-live has become a war zone in Wisconsin. And it’s all in the name of sport. Hunter’s dogs run through the woods in pursuit of bear disrupting families; bear cubs are separated from their mothers, foraging black bears are kept on the move, and how about the White-tailed deer forced to protect her fawn from packs of free roaming hunting dogs in pursuit of bear. Gray wolves defending their pups kill hunter’s dogs in a never-ending-game.

In 1963 Wisconsin allowed the use of dogs in pursuit of black bears. It’s been an expensive mistake both in the lives of dogs & Wildlife.

There will come a day when the voice of the wilderness is heard no more if we continue down this destructive path. Killing is not conservation, and we cannot ignore the rights of our wild fellow beings any longer. As human populations grow worldwide more & more wilderness is lost.

Please Take Action…

Find your legislators here.

The Gray wolf is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy. Wisconsin’s wolf recovery began in the late 1970s.

In 1963 Wisconsin allowed the use of dogs in pursuit of black bears. It’s been an expensive mistake both in the lives of dogs & Wildlife. Hunter’s are compensated $2,500.00 for each dog killed by wolves during training & hunting with dogs in pursuit of black bear.

#BanBearHounding

Let’s bring back the heart in conservation management…

Do not feed the bears. 

I have followed the career of Dr. Jane Goodall since childhood.  I remember watching National Geographic specials with wide-eyed-wonderment. I was amazed at how Dr. Goodall observed chimpanzees in their natural habitat.  A natural habitat can be defined as; the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population. I began working to support wolf recovery as a volunteer winter wolf tracker in the year 2000.  Volunteer trackers were instructed to, “do no harm” in wolf habitat.  In other words, do not disturb them.  For instance, if wolves howled back on a survey, the survey was completed; we were instructed not to howl back, because that would be considered disturbing them. 

Wisconsin’s natural resources are kept in the public trust for now and future generations. 

I’ve been waiting patently since back in January for research to be published concerning the baiting of black bears. It was published this month in a research article, Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore that reveals some 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. 

“The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.” ~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~

Human food subsidies make up more than 40% of the diet of bears in northern Wisconsin.

In a new research paper, titled “Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore” authored by: Rebecca Kirby of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jonathan Pauli assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and David MacFarland Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources large carnivore specialist. The Journal of Wildlife Management

The researchers documented the abundance of bear bait on forestlands, to determine the contribution of human foods to individual and population diets. That bear baiting on public lands contributed to 40% of their diet. They found that bears were relying on (human foods) subsidies throughout their lifetimes. 
Bears using baits in northern Wisconsin may be contributing to Wisconsin’s high population density compared to neighboring states. 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. Long-term supplementation can increase a population above its ecological carrying capacity. Extensive foraging on bear bait could affect individual bear nutrition through increased body sizes and energy requirements. Increased energy requirements and habituation may create a dependency on food subsidies; if food subsidies were removed, bear-human conflicts may increase and bears may no longer be able to subsist on natural foods.  High availability of energy-rich food can also alter denning chronology, shortening the denning period. In northern Wisconsin, humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base. Researcers’ findings emphasize the need to understand what effects conservation and management strategies that feature human subsidies can have on wildlife, particularly how they alter behavior, population sizes, and demographic parameters. Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore

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Is it time to reevaluate black bear baiting in Wisconsin?  Please contact WDNR Bear Advisory Committee

The Bear Advisory Committee is a diverse group representing agency, non-agency, tribal and stakeholder interests. The committee meets to propose bear quota recommendations and advises the Wildlife Policy Team on a variety of topics such as population monitoring and research priorities. Department leadership considers proposed quotas in developing department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval.

Contact information
For information about the Bear Advisory Committee, contact:

Dave MacFarland

Carnivore specialist

715-365-8919

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Hunting the bear by Nick Vander Puy 

During the height of the struggle for Ojibwe spear fishing and treaty rights in the summer of 1989 several Indian, and non-Indian runners joined forces on the Anishinaabe Solidarity Relay. The run started, carrying an Eagle Feather staff made from sumac, at the Bear River pow wow, swung down to Rhinelander, across the Wisconsin River, east to Mole Lake, north to Crandon, Eagle River and Lac Vieu Desert, across US highway 2 to Bad River, Ashland, Red Cliff, south to Hayward, and west to St. Croix, then back east to Spooner and Stone Lake, finishing at the Honor the Earth pow wow on the Lac Courte Oreilles reserve.

We received a feather for the staff at every Ojibwe community we visited. I was one of the runners. When we arrived at our final destination at the Honor the Earth pow wow my feet were a bleeding red pulpy mass. A woman cleaned and bandaged my feet so I could dance the inter tribals.  Later in the fall Ernie St. Germaine from Lac du Flambeau, who’d organized the run, came to the door of our cabin on the Sundstein Road near Eagle River, Wisconsin. I made some tea and corn bread. We visited about the run and some dreams he’d had about me. Finally, he said, “It’s very important for you to hunt the bear.”

These instructions did not become clear and coherent to me until a few years later, when I was transitioning from being a hunting and fishing guide to a public radio reporter. After witnessing a northern Wisconsin bear hunt with hounds I produced a four part series “Living with Bears” which included the lead story “The Day the Bear Died.”

Listen to Nick Vander Puy’s story “The Day the Bear Died” on Suncloud;

“The Day the Bear Died” eventually ran on National Public Radio’s flagship afternoon show “All Things Considered.” It was probably heard by more than 10 million listeners. Hundreds of people wrote to NPR about the story.  The national award winning story led to my reporting job at WXPR Public Radio in Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Photograph: Spirit of the Bear Finnish Mythology, Instagram 

The brutal outcome of the bear hunt with hounds led me to fast one year from hunting. During this time bears began to enter my dreams. I was led to study the sacred bear hunt in the Finnish epic poem “The Kalevala.”

I still hunt deer, rabbits, partridge and turkeys. I net fish and catch them on hook and line. I eat bear meat, use the bear’s grease, claws and teeth and fur. I knock wild rice and make maple sugar. I harvest plants.

And so the question, why do you oppose bear hunting with hounds?

What I’m about to share is from my own observations as a hunter and public radio reporter, along with some revelations from a another guy who used to hunt bears with hounds, but changed his ways. I cannot reveal this source because he’s already been threatened with violence for speaking his opinions. The level of disrespect in bear hunting with hounds astounds me at times…what makes me sad is there are so many that are not even willing to learn, and wouldn’t care if they did know.  I have never seen a hound hunter ever pause and offer thanks of any kind.

I hate that a leading bear hound hunting advocate Sen. Tiffany from Hazelhurst used to have a mounted bear in his Madison office with a grenade in her mouth.

I HATE that these hound runners strap GPS units on their dogs, turn the dogs out on a track and go have coffee until noon to come back, drive in close, and shoot the bear. They are not even in the woods, let the GPS do the work…..

I HATE that in the training season, during the hottest time of the year, these dog runners target sows with cubs as they will run slower because of the cubs and will often make a stand and fight in defense of their cubs.  The dog runners like this as it teaches the dogs to fight as a pack.

I HATE that many cubs are separated from their sow LONG before they are ready to be. Every year I have cubs here in the neighborhood that time of year getting into trouble in trash, and bird feeders, etc. It’s because of dog training……..I HATE that these dog hunters drop their hounds in the middle of the road when there are NO TRESPASSING signs on both sides. They laugh and say “dogs cant read signs”….

I HATE that the dog hunters often times “stalk” other hunters, like baiters and start their dogs off of their baits that they have spent months establishing……I HATE that in the dog community that poaching is some what of a accepted practice. They cut teeth and claws and harvest gall bladders to pay for their dog care and feed and leave the rest of the bear in the woods to rot…..I HATE that these dog hunters will purposely run their old dogs, or dogs that are not good hunters into wolf territory to get them killed. Then of course they get paid by the state for a “useless” dog…..

OH I forgot to mention something I personally witnessed while hound hunting in the U.P, not even any form of respect for their dogs…One dog had a stick jam in it’s eye during the chase. Popped the eyeball more or less, and was shot right there on the road and thrown in the ditch because “didn’t want to pay vet bills.”

I HATE that the bear hunting lobby and most bear hunters make war on the wolf which is sacred to the Anishinaabe, a true brother and representative of healthy, diverse land.

What is an alternative?  Here’s mine.

One time I was making an offering on the summer solstice near Eagle River in the woods. About the moment the sun rose I put down tobacco near an oak tree.

About thirty seconds before the sun rose the singing birds in the forest became silent. At the moment the sun peered over the horizon I looked to my left and makwa (bear) was staring at me. He raised his left hand, ambled off and then he was gone…

All the best,
Nick Vander Pagan


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Featured image click HERE

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*Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin does not necessarily endorse any political ads that Word Press Blog site attaches on this blog.

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North Woods Living, Tips for ‘Coexisting with Your Wild Neighbors’

Living in the north woods near wild animals can be a wonderful experience. There is nothing that can match sighting a

Life in the Northwoods photography by Michael Crowley
Life in the Northwoods photography by Michael Crowley

bobcat with kits, a doe with a new fawn, snowy owls, bear, swans, and porcupines.  If you have chosen to live in a north woods rural area, here are a few tips for living along side wildlife or better yet, methods for coexisting with your wild neighbors. After all, these wild creatures you have chosen to live among were here first. Living along side wildlife requires respecting their habitat and teaching them how to respect yours as well.

In the news this week in rural norther Wisconsin.

Bill Lea photograph
Bill Lea photograph

Bears have been coming to close, Grantsburg Village Board and Wisconsin DNR took the first steps toward formulating a plan.  It is unfortunate that this plan calls for lethal methods as a way to solve the problem between wildlife and humans. Has there been any measures taken to prevent these bears from coming into the village limits?

There are non lethal methods that north wood’s residents can use to deter wild animals..

  • Keeping your pets safe.

First of all, do not leave pets or their food outside. Leaving pets and their food outside will attract wild animals.  Keep your pets leashed or in a fenced area while out-of-doors, Do not leave pets unattended out-of-doors for long periods of time.

  • Don’t feed wildlife.

Industrious wild bear (photographer unknown0
Industrious wild bear (photographer unknown)

Wildlife can fend for themselves and know where to find their own food. Do you need to feed wild birds? Why do you feed wild birds? Bird feeders are for humans more than wild birds. Humans feed wild birds for the pleasure of viewing them. But these viewing backyard bird feeders attract more than wild birds.  Wild bears enjoy an easy meal off of a backyard bird feeder. Deer, raccoon, and squirrel will also find the backyard bird feeder tempting. Feeding wild birds can result in wild animals becoming habituated to humans. When wild animals become habituated to humans it can have disastrous effects. Imagine stepping outside to feed the birds and you encounter a sow with cubs. Everyone knows how this encounter could turn out.

Other concerns for  do not feed the birds including it may delay migration or changing birds habits.

  • Wild animals are attracted to garbage and gardens.

it is recommended to keep your garbage out of sight and smell of wild animals.. keep your garbage cans in a locked bear proof shed. If you have a garden just fence it in or even use an electrical fence. Even garden compost will attract wild animals.

  • What to do when you encounter wild animals in your backyard.

Assuming you have done all of the above methods to keep wild animals away from your home and family.  The next step is to teach wild animals, bear, coyote, bobcat, cougar, and wolves to fear you, Wild animals have a natural fear of humans. If you live where these wild animals do, then teach them to fear you. This is the best way to keep them out of your backyard.

Photograph of a wild coyote by Ron Niebrugge
Photograph of a wild coyote by Ron Niebrugge

Always keep a safe distance between you and any wild animal that has wondered onto your property. Use a loud device as a deterrent, such as a blow-horn, or fire crackers to scare these unwanted intruders away. Never throw these devices at or on the animal. The idea is to deter not to harm them.

Another wild animal deterrent called hazing which will teach them to fear you. Again, it is recommended to keep a safe distance away from any wild animal you encounter.  Hazing method involves making yourself larger than the wild animal by waving your arms and shouting at the wild animal saying, “go away coyote!”

Other methods of hazing you can use are pepper sprays and a blow-horn is a very good deterrent to keep on hand. You may need to use these deterrents several times to make the unwanted wild animal get the message. Wild animals have a natural fear of humans and you may need to remind them of this natural fear.

There may be times when a wild animal could be dangerous. If the wild animals appears skinny and unhealthy or stumbles this could be a sign of Rabies. In this case stay away from the wild animal. Call local law enforcement. While you wait for them to arrive keep tabs on the whereabouts of the infected animals from a safe distance.

In summary, wild animals have a natural fear of humans. Living along side of wildlife requires keeping space between their habitat and yours.   In other words, educate yourself on how to safely live with your wild neighbors.

Feature photograph is by Michael Crowley of Life in the Northwoods