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

Three more hunting dogs killed in the pursuit of bear…

Hunters began running dogs in pursuit of bear for training on July first. Wildlife Services confirmed that the following dogs were klled in pursuit of bear took place over the weekend: A Plott Hound on 07/29/17 in the Town of Gordon, Douglas County.  A Walker Hound on 07/30/17 in the Town of Drummond, Bayfield County.  A Walker Hound on 07/30/17 in the Town of Round Lake, Sawyer County. Six dogs have been killed in pursuit of bear since the opening of July first training season.  DNR Wolf caution areas states: Hunters are reminded to use the caution-area maps on the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov, keyword “wolf depredation”) to help reduce conflicts.

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. More information on this on WODCW’s Blog

The needless deaths of three more hunting dogs comes on the heals of good news for wolves in the Great Lakes Region.

Wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming won another reprieve Tuesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the animals must remain under federal Endangered Species Act protection.

The appellate court backed a district court decision that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t shown that it properly followed federal laws when it declared wolves partially “recovered” across just a portion of the animal’s historical range. To read more about this appeals court decision click HERE