Harassment of an endangered species in the north woods of Wisconsin began July first

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. 

That’s not even the worst of it. 

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. 

During the 2016 Wisconsin bear hunting season 37 hunting dogs were lost in the pursuit of bear. A few Wisconsin legislators claim these deaths were due to the high wolf population of 866 in 2016, but there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye. Adrian Wydeven, former Wisconsin DNR Head Wolf biologist, wrote in a opinion editorial: Numbers don’t add up in wolf-hound debate, written on November 12, 2016 and suggested that:  “Do wolf numbers correlate with wolves killing hounds? The evidence suggests this might not necessarily be the case. In 2012, only seven dogs were killed and yet there were nearly as many wolves in 2012 as there were in 2016 (815 wolves in late winter 2012).”  

There’s a decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves taking place every year in Wisconsin’s north woods. 

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. 

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.  

Watch the following video by Wisconsin Public Television 2010

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.

In 2017 $99, 400.00 was paid for hounds killed in pursuit of bear, 2016 training & Hunting season, according to the Wisconsin annual wolf damage payment summary. Did the Wisconsin wolf depredation program reimburse bear hunters who knowingly ran their hunting dogs through WDNR wolf caution areas?  

WDNR puts out wolf caution areas:

“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.” 

The following is a spreadsheet of wolf depredation program payouts to bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear in 2016:

Harassment is the act or an instance of harassing, or disturbing, pestering, or troubling repeatedly; persecution according to Webster’ dictionary. Let’s add the topic of the harassment being an endangered species, such as; Wisconsin’s wild wolf. 

Considering the decades of conflict between bear hunters and wolves; is this becoming harassment of an endangered species. Isn’t this illegal? 


Featured image by John E Marriott


About The Author

Rachel Tilseth is the author and founder of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin founded 2012 to get the dogs out of the wolf hunt. Tilseth has been involved in Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since the year 1998. Tilseth is an artist, art educator & grandmother living in the north woods of Wisconsin. 

Wolf Summit ll is a redundant effort of lurid sensationalism

Wisconsin State Senator Tom Tiffany and Representative Adam Jarchow organized a Great Lakes Wolf Summit  to lobby for the delisting of wolves from protections under the Endangered Species Act last fall in an effort to return them to state management. 

Last Fall’s Great Lakes Wolf Summit was a half-baked apple pie. This Wolf Summit was missing vital scientific input. Even Patrick Durkin, a freelance outdoor writer stated the obvious,  in an article in The Green Bay Gazette,  “For those reasons and more, expect the Tiffany-Jarchow wolf summit to simply restate best guesses and half-baked assumptions. But shouting them more loudly won’t make them true.”

A second Wolf Summit is being organzied by Wisconsin Wolf Facts.  The summit takes place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Sugar Camp Town Hall on April 8th. There is an entry charge of $15.00, which includes coffee and lunch.  Laurie Groskopf, spokesperson for the group Wisconsin Wolf Facts, “says there’s a possiblity that Congress will move this year to delist wolves again, putting them back into the state’s hands along with an appeal in the court system.” 

There are currently two bills in congress that call to delist the wolf in four states, S. 164 (Senate) introduced on 01/17/2017 by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and H.R. 424 (House of Representatives) introduced on 01/10/2017 by Representative Collin C. Peterson (D-MN)

Wolves were returned to the safe-keeping of the endangered species list on December 19, 2014 in a court ruling that stated; “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.”

Wisconsin allowed the barbaric use of wolf hounding during two (2013-2014) of its trophy hunts on wolves. It’s no wonder that judge Howell ordered wolves placed back on the ESL considering Wisconsin quite literally throws dogs to wolves.

One of the organizers of Wolf Summit ll, Laurie Groskopf sits on the Wisconsin DNR Wolf Advisory Committee defined in the WI DNR website as a diverse group representing agency, non-agency, tribal and stakeholder interests, meets to propose wolf quota recommendations. Department leadership considers proposed quotas in developing department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval.

The following is a little history of just how slanted the WDNR’s Wolf Advisory Committee has been: DNR secretary confirms That Wolf Hunt Opponents Were Removed From Advisory Committee. Cathy Stepp Says Staunch Hunting Opponents Weren’t Being Productive Members Of Advisory Body Thursday, June 26, 2014, By Chuck Quirmbach. Stepp confirmed what her critics have alleged: that wolf hunting opponents were by and large kicked off the committee.

Several DNR staff are on the recently created Wolf Advisory Committee, as are representatives of several pro-hunting groups. A smaller number of wolf hunting skeptics also remain on the committee, including a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  Source

At the first Great Lakes Wolf Summit held last September 2016, “A few wolves are OK,” said Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and a speaker at the summit. “They’re part of the system.” Peay and most others at the summit wanted to manage the wolf population by killing some off. Roughly 4,000 wolves roam the Great Lakes region.

Wolf Summit ll will have less speakers than the first summit. 

Groskopf said, “The other summit had more speakers, this summit has less speakers so each has more time. So I think there will be more give-and-take at this summit, so I think it’s a good thing to have more participation.” Source  Among the topics will be depredation control, counting wolves, state management, and wolf impacts among other topics. A study completed by the DNR last year found that Wisconsin’s wolf population is at its highest level in recorded history.

Wolf Summit ll is a redundant effort of lurid sensationalism because it’s political backers use carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. Wolf Summit ll is playing on fear, in order to return wolves back over to state management; for the sole purpose of holding a trophy wolf hunt.

Wolf Summit ll doesn’t intend to educate Wisconsin residents about how to live with wolves. It intends to push for a state managed wolf hunt; because they believe wolves are decimating the deer herds, destroying the livelihoods of livestock owners and killing a record number of hound hunting dogs. 

But the facts prove otherwise.

Facts such as as;  a lack of bear hunting regulations caused the increase of wolf depredations on hunting dogs, the largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) and 52 livestock depredations out of 3.50 million head, proves; there’s no-big-bad-wolf here. 

Wolf Summit ll backers believe 866 wolves are too many, and want a population cap of 350 wolves; that means a total of 516 wolves will be killed off in a state managed trophy hunt. 

That is; if Wisconsin citizens buy into Wolf Summit ll’s redundant efforts of lurid sensationalism. 


Two CWD Infected Deer Ecaped from Wisconsin Deer Farm Puts Wild Deer at Risk

Two of the bucks that escaped a deer farm in rural Fairchild have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. 

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

“Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), or prion disease, along with other animal diseases, such as scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The only known natural hosts for CWD are deer (Odocoileus species) and Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni)”  (source: Center for Disease Control (CDC))

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first identified as a fatal wasting syndrome of captive mule deer in the late 1960s in research facilities in Colorado and was recognized as a TSE in 1978. (Source Center for Disease Control)


Figure. Chronic wasting disease among free-ranging deer and elk by county, United States. Source: Cener for Disease Control (CDC)

“Increasing spread of CWD has raised concerns about the potential for increasing human exposure to the CWD agent. The foodborne transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy to humans indicates that the species barrier may not completely protect humans from animal prion diseases…In 2001, the case of a 25-year-old man who reportedly died of a prion disease after an illness lasting ≈22 months was investigated.”  (Source: CDC) 

Wisconsin and CWD

“The lead paragraph of the news releases said little more. Paraphrasing now, state wildlife officials tested more than 5,400 deer for CWD in 2014, and found 329 sick ones, primarily in the endemic area of southern Wisconsin.”  (Source: CWD news downright scary by journalist Patrick Durkin) 


This two and a half year old buck was found dying of Chronic Wasting Disease in Iowa county – Photograph Patrick Durkin for the State Journal.


Disease rates in these areas relatively new to CWD are climbing far faster than when it first surfaced in 2001 and 2002. The disease rate for adult bucks is already about 27 percent north of Spring Green, and about 23 percent south of Richland Center. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began monitoring the state’s wild white tailed deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002 through testing of hunter harvested deer in November 2001.

Captive deer farms in Wisconsin 


As of 2015 there were 421 registered deer farms in Wisconsin.


Latest news releases in Wisconsin has two CWD infected deer, They were among 21 that fled rural Fairchild farm

– State officials said two bucks from a deer farm in rural Fairchild have tested positive for chronic wasting disease following the escape of 21 deer in May from the farm owned by Rick Vojtik. All of the 228 deer in Vojtik’s herd were killed in November by state officials after the disease was detected. Leader Telegram Photo

Can wolves save Wisconsin’s wild deer herds?

A wild wolf is known to walk up to an abandoned deer bed and blow on it causing particles to flow upwards into the wolf’s olfactory sense. The wolf’s olfactory sense can smell disease in deer. In other words, wolves are nature’s disease detectors. Wolves can determine if a deer is old by smelling puss infected blood on a leaf chewed by a deer. photograph by Cai Priestley

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends not feeding deer in CWD infected areas. Deer herds licking/eating off of bait sites are at higher risk of contracting CWD. Baiting and feeding ban in Oneida, Forest and Vilas counties will begin Jan. 11, 2016

Are captive deer and elk farms contributing to CWD infection in wild deer? 

Chronic Wasting Disease, an infectious brain disease that has been killing deer, elk and moose both in the wild and on “captive farms” continues to stalk the land, expanding its domain to 23 states and two Canadian provinces since it was first identified in captive mule deer in a Colorado research facility in 1967.

Can humans become infected with CWD? 

“In 2001, the case of a 25-year-old man who reportedly died of a prion disease after an illness lasting ≈22 months was investigated (Table 2). Although this man had hunted deer only rarely, his grandfather hunted deer and elk throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s and regularly shared the venison with the case-patient’s family. The grandfather primarily hunted in southeastern Wyoming, around the known CWD-endemic area. The case-patient’s illness began with a seizure and progressed to fatigue, poor concentration, and depression. Memory loss, ataxia, speech abnormalities, combative behavior, and recurrent seizures also developed. Histopathologic, immunohistochemical, and Western blot testing of brain autopsy samples confirmed a prion disease diagnosis.” (source: CWD Risk for Transmission to Humans – Center for Disease Control) 
Read more on Chronic Wasting Disease from the following:

Agency: Two deer that escaped had CWD They were among 21 that fled rural Fairchild farm

Food and a Safety News, ‘Surprising’ Discovery Made About Chronic Wasting Disease New study shows that prions can bind to plants BY COOKSON BEECHER | JUNE 1, 2015

Patrick Durkin: CWD news downright scary; DNR hoping no one will notice

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease that affects North American cervids (hoofed ruminant mammals, with males characteristically having antlers). 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources CWD informationTransmission of CWD 

CWD Risk for Transmission to Humans


Trapping of Wisconsin Wolves Ends-Wolves have moved on and are not considered a threat. 

This is good news for a pack of wolves that were rearing their pups at the Colburn Wildlife Area in Adams county Wisconsin.

In news released on Friday October 30, 2015 in an article from WKOW Channel 27

“DNR carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland says no wolves were captured in traps.”

“MacFarland says signs of wolf activity in the wildlife area included tracks, scat and disturbed tree bark.”

“MacFarland says the wolves used the area as a rendezvous point as part of pup rearing. He says it’s an activity that takes place in the summer, and the wolves have moved on to other habitat.”

“Officials say the wolves’ aggression was likely a product of their proximity to activity in the state preserve.”  WKOW channel 27

The trapping of a pack of wolves in Adams County started back in September 23, 2015 when a hunter had an encounter with wolves. The hunter according to the DNR may have stumbled into a rendezvous site. 

A rendezvous site is where wolves place their pups while they are out hunting.

The hunter shot one of the wolves in self-defense and the wolf carcus was never found. United States Fish & Wildlife Service did a full investigation with no charges filed against the hunter from Friendship Wisconsin.  

Wisconsin wolves are on the Endangered Species List and are illegal to hunt. 

You can read the hunters story of his encounter with wolves in The NRA American Hunter article click here.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and USFW determined that the Freindship Wisconsin hunter’s encounter with a pack of wolves in Adams county was not a wolf attack. 

 Areas of the Colburn Wildlife area were closed after a second encounter occurred between a hunter and his son and the same wolf pack.

 In a news article by Ryan Mathews of the Northwoods River News on October 30, 2015…

DNR Large Carnivore Specialist David MacFarland said a second encounter, which supports Nellessen’s claim, occurred Oct. 10 at the same location as the Sept. 23 encounter.

“An individual and his son were hunting during the Youth Deer Hunt, and they actually were in the same exact location, down to the tree, as the first incident,” MacFarland said. “It was the same situation where wolves came uncomfortably close. Not the same interaction that the first individual had, but wolves getting a little too close and acting in a bold manner.”  The Northwoods River News

The Department of Natural Resources followed protocal on these two wolf encounters considering them to be a threat to human safety.

“MacFarland said the USDA Wildlife Services, in consultation with the USFWS and the property manager, has begun trapping in the area with the intent to lethally remove wolves from the area. Despite being protected federally, the state retains the authority to implement lethal control methods if animals are deemed a threat to human health and safety.”  The Northwoods River News

David MacFarland DNR carnivore specialist.

No wolves captured in traps…

In news released on Friday October 30, 2015 in an article from WKOW Channel 27

“ADAMS (WKOW) — Trapping for wolves in a state wildlife area in Adams County ends Friday, as wildlife specialists say the threat from the animals appears over, after hunters had two frightening encounters.”  WKOW Channel 27


Wildlife officials believe the wolves have moved out of the Colburn Wildlife Area and are not a threat to human safety. 

Feature imaged by John E. Marriott