A plea for justice: In the video what you are seeing is a clear act of animal cruelty in progress…

…Yet the hunter in the video is never prosecuted. Warning the following video contains violence against a helpless wild sentient-being.

In the video what you are seeing is a clear act of animal cruelty in progress. Yet the hunter in the video is never prosecuted.

Will there ever be justice for the coyote being tortured by a hunter’s dogs in the video? I’ve been asking that question for several years now. When I found the horrific video in 2014 that a hunter posted to a hound hunting page I immediately downloaded it. I was hoping to seek justice for the coyote. I sent the video over to a group I was working with at the time in 2014, and they told me they would help me investigate the hounder in the video. I asked them if they found anything out about the hounder in the video, and they never got back to me. After over six months or so of no response from this group, I turned the video and the name of the hunter, Francis Metz, over to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden in June of 2015.

Screenshot of the first email sent to a WDNR conservation warden in June 2015 almost a year after I sought help from another group I was working with at the time. They never got back to me.

The following screenshot is the response from Warden Kamke.

I received a response From the warden referring the case to another warden.

The warden, Nick Miofsky, did an investigation into the video and the hunter Francis Metz. Then, the warden turned the video and the evidence they collected over to the Florence County District Attorney on animal cruelty charges. Finally, I had hope that there would finally be justice for the coyote. How Ironic that in the end the district attorney of Florence county deemed the video to be to old to prosecute.

I’ve had this video for four years now, and there’s been no justice for this coyote. Yet, so many people want to keep the horrible truth from being seen. Even George Myer thinks the actions seen in this video are wrong and illegal. But he too did nothing about the abuse committed to the Coyote by the hunter.

Next, on March 15, 2016 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin received a message in the inbox from George Meyer Executive Director at Wisconsin Wildlife Federation inquiring about the video on YouTube. The following is the message from George Meyer:

I viewed the Utube film of the dogs attacking the coyotes. While I support coyote hunting, the actions shown on the video are wrong and illegal. Please provide information on whether it took place in Wisconsin and who was involved. If done in Wisconsin I will personally look into it and seek legal redress.

The following is my response to Mr. Meyer’s message:

Thank you for being appalled by the actions in this video as I was. I found the video on a hound hunting Facebook posted by Francis Metz. I turned this over to a warden and it was investigated. Then turned over to the DA in Florence County for animal cruelty. But the DA did not pursue it. It was disappointing. But I haven’t given up and was getting ready to do a FOIA to get all the details. This is my email Address wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com Email me and I will forward you the emails. I look forward to receiving your email, Best, Rachel Tilseth

The following is Mr. Meyers response:

Will contact you tomorrow.

I never received an email back from George Meyer. In fact I never heard from him again. Disappointing to say the least.

That’s not the end of the story. In fact it’s just the beginning. I had the video on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s You Tube Channel for a number of years, that is until March 15, 2017. It was taken down by YouTube deeming that it violates community standards. And a strike was assigned against my account.

My question is why was the video deemed, “violates YouTube’s community standards” then removed on March 15, 2017? Apparently all a person has to do to get a video removed is complain by clicking on the Flag Icon appearing on the far right under the video.

How to Remove Videos From YouTube That Someone Else Uploaded (source)

Wave the Flag

Under each video on YouTube is a toolbar with buttons that perform different actions, with a Flag icon appearing on the far right. This is the flagging tool which allows you to report a video to YouTube staff for review. Click the button and provide details as to why the video should be removed. If the video violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines it will be removed; but if there is no violation, the video will not be removed no matter how often it is flagged.

The video was removed and a strike was placed against Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s YouTube channel. Dare I even suggest a campaign by coyote hunters was responsible for removing the video?

Someone, or several “someone’s” wanted this video off my You Tube channel. Perhaps the proof is in the video, that clearly shows the coyote is being tortured by the hunter’s dogs. Why are they trying to cover up this animal cruelty? I want justice for the coyote in the video. The coyote hunter in the video was never prosecuted. Let’s not let the barbarous act committed against the coyote go unchallenged!

Please help me find justice for the the coyote…

The coyote was once a living breathing member of a community, and living in the wild in northern Wisconsin. Please take action copy and paste the link of this blog and send it to your Wisconsin State legislators, the head of the Wisconsin DNR executive team.

Say shame on this hunter who pushed his dogs to attack a coyote in the video! We want justice for the coyote!

Featured image by Ron Niebrugge

And thank you for sharing this blog!

Rachel Tilseth

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~Mahatma Gandhi

WODCW Opinion Editorial: Criminally harassing protected gray wolves is a violation of the Endangered Species Act

By Rachel Tilseth 

In 2016 41 dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear in northern Wisconsin.  Are any wolves being injured or killed in the decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves?  In a call to the USFWS services Great Lakes Office I asked them that question. USFWS didn’t have an answer for me.  My concern is that when USFWS investigates a wolf depredation on a hunting dog; do they investigate if any wolves were injured or killed as a result of the encounter?  Wolves are an endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The word “protected” was the sticking point for me.  Criminally harassing protected gray wolves is a violation of the ESA. 

There is hope for a solution to the deacades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves, and it’s a legal one.  

On August 2nd a letter was sent to USFWS: “This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin.” Letter from PEER 

The Criminal Complaint Cites State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes was filed on August 2, 2017 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
The Criminal Complaint from PEER

“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.”

The last sentence in the above paragraph makes it perfectly clear that the evidence is,  “…state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”

Wolves a protected species under the federal ESA are being harassed. 

…“Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.” Said,  Staff attorney Adam Carlesco (PEER)

In a previous Blog I asked this question; Considering the decades of conflict between bear hunters and wolves; is this becoming harassment of an endangered species?  Isn’t this illegal? 

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves has been occurring for decades.  In a Wisconsin Public Television special about Wisconsin wolves;  the conflict between bear hunters and wolves was addressed back in October 2010. Watch the the following video. 

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves is a reality, and it continues to play out every summer in Wisconsin’s north woods. 

Bear hunter holds up a dog killed by wolves

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. WODCW’s Blog

We have no way of knowing if wolves are being killed during these encounters occurring every summer; between dogs that are in pursuit of bear, and wolves that are defending their pups. In the PEER criminal complaint, criminal take can occur when a hunter’s activities, “…as appears to be the case here.” The “hunter’s activities” of running dogs in pursuit of bear through wolf rendezvous sites. Read the definition of criminal take from the press release: 

“Under the federal Endangered Species Act, criminal “take” does not require proving that the hunter intended to hurt a wolf. Take can occur when a hunter mistakenly shoots an endangered species believed to be a non-listed animal. Criminal take can also occur when a hunter’s activities, though not specifically directed at a listed species, result in take of a listed species, as appears to be the case here.”  PEER criminal complaint

Bear hunter’s activities, as in use of dogs in the pursuit of bear can be considered criminal “take” in this criminal complaint.  PEER in a Letter to the USFWS law enforcement requested a full investigation:

William C. Woody
Chief, Office of Law Enforcement
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
5600 American Boulevard, West, Suite 990 Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
RE: Request for Criminal Investigation – Violation of the Endangered Species Act
Dear Chief Woody:
This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin. These activities have led to adverse effects on breeding patterns and the habitat of the gray wolf. PEER believes these activities constitute prima facie evidence of ongoing criminal misconduct.”  Letter

A response from the president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association Star Tribune article,  “Wisconsin tradition – hunting bears with dogs – comes under attack by wolf advocates” Wolf advocates attack Wis. reimbursements.  By Josephine Marcotty Star Tribune AUGUST 11, 2017, stated, “…also there are many more wolves, period.  Also, the wolves have now devestated the deer population in northern Wisconsin, they have become more aggressive in their search for food, and thus more likely to target our dogs.”   Carl Schoettel, president of Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, full response to questions from the Star Tribune

Wolves are responsible for taking 6% of White-tailed deer population in wolf range in 2014

A “Study sheds light on top causes of deer mortality” conducted in 2014 found that; “…In fact, human hunting was responsible for about twice as much deer mortality in northern Wisconsin than the other four causes combined.  The rates of mortality were human hunting 43%, starvation 9%, coyote 7%, wolf 6% and roadkill 6%.”  Source

Who’s responsible for the record number of dogs killed by wolves in 2016?  We know wolves are killing hunting dogs that run through rendezvous sites where wolf pups are kept.  It’s absurd to lay blame exclusively upon an endangered species, wolves in this case. Laying blame on a wild animal that is defending offspring from the activity of human hunters is irresponsible.  

For over a year now, I’ve been saying (WODCW Blog) it’s the “loosening” of regulations as the probable cause for the high number of hunting dogs deaths. In PEER’s letter to USFWS requesting a full investigation what the cause is: 

“Furthermore, in 2015, the state eliminated the “Class B” bear hound training licenses. While a Class A license or “kill tag” is still required for any hunter wishing to kill a black bear, the Class B licensing requirements have been rescinded. See Wis. Stat. 29.184(3)(a) (stating that no license is required to, among other things, train a dog to track bear or assist a holder of a Class A bear license). Class B requirements mandated that a prospective hunter seeking to train hounds obtain a permit from the state to do so. A Class B permit allowed a hunter to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist a hunter pursuing a bear. Now both residents and non-residents may run hound dogs through Wisconsin’s wilderness for training purposes unchecked and without licensed oversight from the state.” PEER Letter

Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is prohibited by the ESA. 

More from PEER criminal complaint:

“Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is a prohibited act as evidenced by the plain language of the ESA’s “take” definition, which includes harassment and pursuit. However, over the course of Wisconsin’s 2016 hunting season, forty-eight hounds were killed by wolves, twenty-one of which occurred on public lands, and more than fifteen of those acts occurred after hunters were informed of the fact that they were hunting in “wolf caution areas.”18 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources creates specific “wolf caution areas” that warn hunters of previous instances of wolf attacks on hound dogs in a hunting or training situation. To aid hunters, the DNR website features an interactive “Gray Wolf Depredation Mapping Application” which “shows all verified wolf depredations and threats on livestock, hunting dogs and pets as well as verified human health and safety conflicts.”19 Lastly, DNR has an e-mail and text alert system to inform residents about wolf activity in their area.20”  PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS

Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA.

Additionally, because hound training season in Wisconsin takes place when wolves are raising their pups, the fact that hounds are running through clearly identified wolf territory unchecked means that such actions directly impair the wolves’ ability to breed, feed, and find shelter; activity specifically protected by the plain language of the ESA’s implementing regulations. 50 C.F.R. 17.3. Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA.  PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS

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. 

In 2017 minimum wolf population estimates was 925. 

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Featured photograph by Wisconsin DNR 

“Make no mistake, bear hunting is blood sport, especially with hounds…”

…direct quote from the author, Dale Bowman, of a recent article; Loose the hounds: Following bear hounds in northern Wisconsin, in The Chicago Sun Times, on August 22, 2016.  The author of this article rode along with a family of bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear in another Wisconsin. 

Read on:

NORTHERN Wis.–Snorting, the black bear crashed through brush with hounds snarling and baying just behind, unseen in the lush summer green. Standing on a forest road, I timed it well enough to snap a photo as the bear broke across in a full-stretch dark streak.
“Do you think you could have shot it?’’ asked Pat, patriarch of a hound hunting family.

No,’’ I said. “I would not have even gotten a shot off.’’

Not sure what I expected from tagging along on training hounds for bear hunting, but it was one of my all-time experiences, doubly so because our 15-year-old daughter Sara wanted to come along.
Make no mistake, bear hunting is blood sport, especially with hounds. So our host family of hound lovers, Heath, son of Pat, his wife Laurie and their daughter Sierra, asked that I not use their last name.
And I mean family. Heath began going along as a 3-month-old; he and Laura started Sierra about as young.
Their home pays homage to bears from decorative paws outside to bleached bear skulls and cured hides inside.
It was truly primordial, beautiful in animal athleticism.
Bear season in Wisconsin runs five weeks, this year beginning Sept. 7. There is a split between using dogs and not using dogs (no dog hunting is allowed in Zone C). Otherwise, this year the first four weeks are open to non-dog hunting, the final four weeks for dog hunting only with a three-week overlap in the middle. There is differences of opinion between bait-sitters and those who hunt with hounds. Read full story by clicking HERE

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You can help Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s legislative campaign to end the sport of bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin
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 file written complaints:
A). Trespassing on private property by bear hound hunters that have not asked for permission, and especially if you’ve posted private property/no hunting signs 
B). Noise complaints of baying hounds at night that interrupts sleep 

C). Encountering large packs of free ranging bear hunting dogs while using public lands where you feel for your safety 
 We need these complaints written in order to file a: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to support our legislative campaign to end bear hounding in the the north woods of Wisconsin. Will gather all these complaints to present to legislators.

You can write a letter to your legislator asking them to back Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s campaign to end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin. Click HERE to find your legislator
Watch for updates concerning Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s campaign to end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin. 

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Featured image: Bill Lea Photography 

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Disclaimer *not affiliated or aligned with Wolf Patrol