Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Needs Your Help…

Every summer hunters running dogs on Black Bear in the north woods come into conflict with Gray wolves. 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 because 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.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Socialcarrying 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. Table 1 contains a summary of the 2018 dog depredations by wolves.

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!

There are a few of us beginning to work towards addressing the conflict between bear hunters and Wisconsin’s Gray wolf.

You can help by emailing me at wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com for more information.

Then, I can add you to our email updates.

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves has become polarized into opposing factions that polarize any campaign to remedy it. I propose we break through and start to mitigate the conflict.

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

Price tag for nine dead hound hunting dogs in the pursuit of bear is $22,500.00 

Updated: July 26, 2016 another hound dog fatality. In Lincoln county a Plott, female, 6.5 year old dog brings total to ten. 

Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights The following is the latest list of hound hunting dog fatalities as a result of pursuing bear near wolf den sites (called rendezvous sites). 

On 7/22/2016 Bayfield county a Black and Tan, male, 2.5 year old, in Bayfield county. On July 23 three more hound hunting dog fatalities. One a Redtick, 6 year old male, in Bayfield county, a Plott female 1.5 years old, in Iron county, and a Bluetick in Douglas county. Then, on July 24, a Walker, 7 year old, in Douglas county. There has been five hound hunting dog fatalities in a four day period on July 22 through July 25, 2016.  Prior to July 22 there were four and as of July 24, 2016 there have been nine hound hunting fatalities in the pursuit of bear since July first. 

WI DNR wolf caution area is created for hunters that are training dogs on bear to alert them about wolves that are actively protecting a rendezvous site. There are now five new wolf caution areas as of today’s date. View Dog depredations by wolves for 2016 (listed by date) on WI DNR website by clicking HERE
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. *please note: WODCW is not implying that hunters leave thier dogs out for wolves to kill on purpose to collect money. 

Running total thus far to be paid out is $22,500.00 for nine dead hound hunting dogs in the pursuit of bear 

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.

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites 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 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. 

In 1963 when dogs were first used in the pursuit of bear wolves had been extirpated in the state of Wisconsin. Today there are 222 wolf packs in Wisconsin. 

Is it time to re evaluate the use of dogs in pursuit of bear? 

For more history on this controversy between WI hound hunters and wolves click the following blue highlighted words: Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights.

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Featured image by: ​ ​ W I L D L I F E A N D N A T U R E P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y C A I P R I E S T L E Y




Top story in Wisconsin as hound hunters lose two more dogs in pursuit of bear in Douglas & Sawyer counties 

On Saturday July 9th two more dogs were killed, one in Douglas county was a Black and Tan, male, 6 months old, and the other in Sawyer county was a Walker, female, 7 years old. These two hound hunting dogs are the third fatalities as the result of wolves protecting pups at rendezvous sites. Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights.

The first hound hunting dog fatality took place just four days prior on Tuesday July 5th in Sawyer county was a Walker female, 6 years old. 

To date that makes three hound hunting dog fatalities as a result of running dogs on bear 

WI DNR wolf caution area is created for hunters that are training dogs on bear to alert them about wolves that are actively protecting a rendezvous site.  There are two new wolf caution areas in Sawyer & Douglas counties as of today’s date. View Dog depredations by wolves for 2016 (listed by date) on WI DNR website by clicking HERE

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.

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous sites 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 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. 

In 1963 when dogs were first used in the pursuit of bear wolves had been extirpated in the state of Wisconsin. Today there are 222 wolf packs in Wisconsin. 



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. *please note: WODCW is not implying that hunters leave thier dogs out for wolves to kill on purpose to collect money. 
Running total thus far to be paid out equalling $7,500.00 for dead hound hunting dogs

For more history on this controversy between WI hound hunters and wolves click the following blue highlighted words: Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights

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Featured image: Wolf Pups by John E Marriott Photography