The Gray wolf is part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy.

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain.” Aldo Leopold

She ran across the road in front of my car. Then stopped in the ditch, turned and looked me straight in the eye. My first thought was, is this a collie because she was so furry? She was light in color and had white around her deep green eyes. That’s why I gave her the name White Eyes. She was the alpha female wolf of the pack I was tracking. That first sighting of her on the roadside was just one of the many encounters I had with her and her family while helping to monitor Wisconsin’s wild wolf. White Eyes raised her family in the north woods and had nine generations of pups before being struck and killed by a vehicle in 2009.

I named my website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin for her. The logo is my pastel drawing of her, and dedicated to her memory. Because of her I learned what a wolf family was all about. When I first saw her in the year 2000 there were 66 wolf packs in Wisconsin. Today there are around 230 wolf packs living in the northern & central forests of Wisconsin.

Wolves live in pockets of wilderness surrounded by human settlements. What I learned most about them is that they are truly wild and will do everything they can to avoid any contact with us. We must respect their right to live wild & free and give them the space they need to raise their families.

Photo credit Nacel Hagemamn

Bear hunters in the northern forests bait & run their dogs right through wolf rendezvous sites all summer long. Wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Bear hunters have worked relentlessly to loosen Bear hunting training regulations, and this is directly in conflict with an endangered species. Endangered Species Act regulation section 9 defines harm:

The term “harm” is further defined by regulation to include “any act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife,” and emphasizes that such acts may include “significant habitat modification or degradation that significantly impairs essential behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding, or sheltering.”

Gray wolf pups are usually born in mid April and by summer are about four months old when hunters begin training season by running their dogs in pursuit of bear. Typically wolves will leave these pups with babysitters at rendezvous sites while they are off hunting. Gray wolves are never far from their pups and are always on guard. They will defend their pups from packs of free ranging hunting dogs. If wolves are constantly having to guard and defend their pups how does it affect their ability to rear pups? Isn’t this a significant violation of ESA regulations section 9.

WDNR puts out warnings, wolf caution areas, on their website when there is a wolf depredation on a hunting dog. Hunters are reimbursed up to $2,500.00 for each dog killed while in pursuit of black bear during training and hunting seasons. Is this payout an incentive to ignore wolf caution warnings?

This past summer a bear hunter released his older dog in known wolf territory, wolves killed his dog, and he went in looking for the dog. The hunter found two wolves had killed his dog and he shot at the wolves who were only defending their rendezvous site. In the first place, Why was the hunter even there in known wolf territory?

Federal officials in charge of protecting an endangered species are not enforcing section 9 of the ESA by allowing bear hunters to degrade gray wolf habitat all summer long. To follow this story click here.

Take Action

Here’s what you can do: Email Laurie J. Ross
Natural Resources Board Liaison – Office of the Secretary Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at and ask her to send your concerns about why bear hunters in Wisconsin are allowed to degrade gray wolf habitat all summer long in full violation of ESA regulations section 9 to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board members.

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes, something known only to her and to the mountain.” Aldo Leopold

Who has more common sense & self-restraint: the hound hunter or the gray wolf? The conflict continues…

Just this week in Wisconsin a hound hunter ran his dog through a wolf rendezvous site, and two gray wolves killed his dog. He went into the area looking for his dog and witnessed two timber wolves holding onto the dead dog. He not only disturbed wolf pups, causing the death of his dog; he then walks right into the rendezvous site where wolves are already in defense of pups adding fuel to the fire! I’ve been a volunteer wolf tracker for 19 years, and this takes the cake! It wins the award for stupid! He’s posted it on his Facebook & claimed the two wolves went after him. I’ll tell ya something about wolves that if they were after him as he claims, they most definitely could of finished him off fast. But they did not. They did not touch a hair on his head. Because they are smarter than him, apparently! And proving they have more self-restraint than he does!

His post is now being shared on Facebook and being exaggerated, commented on, ranted on, & on, angrily & all because of a lack of common sense! It’s a wolf-hate-fest!

Photograph is of hound hunter’s dog. Dog was running on Bear right through gray wolf rendezvous site. It’s a well known fact, that wolves keep their young pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting.

Gray wolves keep their three month old pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting. Conflicts arise when bear hunters run their dogs through rendezvous sites. Gray wolves are forced to defend vulnerable pups from free ranging packs of hunting dogs.

Bear Hunters and Wolves

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 were not a threat to bear hunters because they were all but wiped out of Wisconsin by the 1960s.  It all changed for bear hunters when Wisconsin Wolf recovery began in the late 1970s.

This conflict between bear hunters and wolves isn’t new. Watch the following Wisconsin Public Television piece from 2010.

A Brief History on Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

In 1967 and 1974 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the eastern timber wolf a federally endangered species. In 1975, wolves were listed as a state endangered species as they began to recolonize along the Minnesota border. Wolves crossed over into Wisconsin from Minnesota and established territories on their own. Today, Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is listed on the Endangered Species List. Final Rule to Delist – – Due to a Federal court decision, wolves in the western Great Lakes area (including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) were relisted under the Endangered Species Act, effective December 19, 2014.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Current Population

The 2017-18 overwinter minimum wolf count is 905-944, a 2.2% decrease from the 2016-17 minimum count of 925-956. The 2018-19 overwinter minimum wolf count is 914-978, a 1% increase from the 2017-18 minimum count of 905-944. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf appears to be self regulating.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Social carrying capacity, however, refers to the number of a species that people feel is appropriate.

Wisconsin Black Bear Hunters use dogs to track and trail bears. Conflicts arise when a hunter’s dogs run through Gray Wolf’s rendezvous sites where pups are kept. Rendezvous sites are:

Rendezvous Site Identification and Protection source WDNR Endangered Resources

Active Season for Rendezvous Sites: mid-May – mid-October

Habitat: Rendezvous sites are generally open areas of grass or sedge adjacent to wetlands. The sites are characterized by extensive matted vegetation, numerous trails, and beds usually at the forest edge. Rendezvous sites are often adjacent to bogs or occur in semi-open stands of mixed conifer-hardwoods adjacent to swamps. Sometimes abandoned beaver ponds are used as rendezvous sites.

Description: Rendezvous sites are the home sites or activity sites used by wolves after the denning period, and prior to the nomadic hunting period of fall and winter. Pups are brought to the rendezvous sites from dens when they are weaned, and remain at rendezvous sites until the pups are old enough to join the pack on their hunting circuits. Rendezvous site may be associated with food sources such as ungulate kills or berry patches. Generally a series of rendezvous sites are used by a specific pack. Rendezvous sites are mostly used from mid-June to late-September, but use may start as early as mid-May and may continue to early or mid-October. Some intermittent use of rendezvous sites may continue into the fall. It appears that the average number of rendezvous sites used by wolf packs is 4-6.

Although den and rendezvous sites each serve separate functions for wolves, they are sometimes used interchangeably. Excavations sometimes occur at rendezvous sites and these may be used as den sites in the future. Sometimes rendezvous sites may represent old den site areas. Therefore, a site used as a rendezvous site one year, could be used as a den site the next year or vice versa. Due to the transient use of rendezvous sites, special protections are not necessary. If recent excavations are observed indicating possible use as a den site, protocols in place for den site protection should be followed. Source

“Most Wisconsin citizens want at least some wolf presence in the state, but those who feel strongly, at either end of the spectrum, drive the argument.” Lisa Naughton, UW-Madison geography professor.

Wisconsin DNR puts out the following when there is a wolf depredation on hunting dogs:

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.

When a wolf depredation takes place on a Bear hunter’s dog he is compensated $2,500.00 per dog. Wisconsin’s wolf depredation program began in 1982, and soon afterwards bear hunters running dogs in pursuit of bear began receiving payouts. The payouts for wolf depredations were paid in the effort to help compensate hunters, livestock owners and residents living in wolf recovery areas.

We must mitigate the decades old conflict between bear hunters and wolves…

In 2015 Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBA) worked at loosening regulations for bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of 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 license. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods. It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. 

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 were encountered in a day of tracking in the the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This conflict between bear Hunters and wolves is decades-old.

It’s time we begin to address the conflict, especially with the possible delisting threats on the horizon. This would mean Wolf management would fall into state hands.

Contact your Wisconsin State Representative. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf needs your help.

First confirmed hound dog killed in Wisconsin black bear training & hunting season 

Hunters began running dogs in pursuit of bear for training on July first. On Saturday July 15, 2017 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) confirmed one bear hunting dog killed, and one injured (Plott, male, 5 years; Plott, female, 4 years). WDNR has put out a wolf caution alert in Langlade county Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources creates “wolf caution areas” to warn hunters of a wolf attack on hunting dogs. The purpose of these caution areas is to let hunters know that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. It is the department’s experience that once a pack has attacked a dog in a hunting or training situation, there is a high probability another attack will occur again during the same year or within the following year. These attacks will generally be on trailing hounds used to hunt bear, bobcat and coyote, but such attacks rarely occur on dogs in bird-hunting situations. Caution areas are not intended to close areas to hunting or training, but rather to advise hunters to exercise greater caution when hunting within these areas. Greater caution can include, staying closer to dogs, avoid releasing at bait sites recently visited by wolves and avoid releasing dogs at or near the site of an attack.

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. Harassment of an endangered species began on July first.

On December 19, 2014 a federal judge returned wolves back on to the Endangered Species Act: U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled that the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

In her ruling, Howell wrote: “Wolves are the subject of heated disputes, with those on every side of the issue offering heartfelt arguments as to how best to manage this unique species. The last decade of litigation is a testament to those passions.”

Howell said that while the Fish and Wildlife Service and others may have “practical policy reasons” for removing protections for wolves, federal regulations protecting endangered species trump those concerns.

“At times, a court must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough,” Howell wrote in the decision. “This case is one of those times.”