As the conflict between Wisconsin bear hunters & wolves continues concerns are raised over record deaths of hunting dogs 

*Updated 10/29/16- During the 2016 bear hunting season this year 40 hunting dogs lost their lives while pursuing bear. WI DNR didn’t even know how many dogs were in the woods pursuing bear due to relaxed training  requirements; according to WI DNR large carnivore specialist David MacFarland, “And while state law was changed in 2015 to end a license requirement for the summer dog training season, it’s not known if more dogs are being run, he said.”  Source: Wisconsin State Journal (class B required training license was removed) 

North woods residents report seeing bear hounding vehicles from out of state running on rural township roads.

 Does the WI DNR even know the full extent of the carnage? How many wolves have been killed or injured, besides the 40 dead hunting dogs, as a result of unregulated dog training  & hunting season? How many bear cubs have been killed or displaced by packs of free ranging hound hunting dogs? Or even how many deer fawns have been killed? 

WI DNR doesn’t know because the class B license was removed so there is no way to tell how many hunting dogs in pursuit of bear were roaming through the woods.

There wasn’t a significant growth in the wolf population in the areas where the majority of hunting dogs were killed according to David MacFarland in a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal.  Were there more dogs being run in pursuit of bear in those areas that would explain the record deaths?  To reiterate; it’s not known if more dogs are being run, because state law was changed in 2015 to end a license requirement for the summer dog training season. 

Coincidentally, there was a Great Lakes Wolf Summit in September 15  for the purpose of returning wolf management back into the hands of the state, that was sponsored by two republican politicians.  

Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association was one of many hunt clubs that worked for an aggressive wolf hunt and pushed for legislation in 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 that created a mandatory wolf hunting and trapping season as soon as the wolf was delisted. The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association’s hand-prints were all over this wolf hunt legislation.  Included in this bill was the barbaric use of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.” Read WODCW Fact Sheet on Wolf Hounding  

An error in judgement is being made by politicians & bear hunters that can be related to the adage; don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It takes seconds for a pack of wolves to kill a bear hunting dog that has come into contact with or near their pups. I doubt the dog felt much of anything. You see wolves are carnivores that kill to eat. Wolves are designed for the kill. They know how to kill whereas hunting dogs do not know how to make a quick kill.  Hound hunting dogs are trained to track and trail, then hold the animal at bay until the hunter arrives on scene.  

“Hence, wolves have evolved an intense bite pressure and jaws filled with very strong, specialized teeth, At full exertion, bite pressures have been documented to reach 1,500 pounds per square inch! By contrast, a German Shepherd is known to exert only 750 pounds per square inch, and we humans can only manage a measly 300 pounds per square inch.”  Source: Wolf Education and Research Center 

Bear hounds die every July & August at an alarming rate…

Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous 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 these 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. 

The WI DNR has no idea of how many dogs are run through the woods during training season because the class B license was removed. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin is beginning a campaign to legislatively end bear hounding in the north woods of Wisconsin. Read more about WODCW’s campaign to legislatively ban bear hounding click HERE 

When this sport of pursing bear with dogs began in 1963 there were no wolves present in Wisconsin. Conflicts arise between bear hunters and wolves because bear hunters run dogs through rendezvous sites where wolves keep pups. Bear hunters are reimbursed $2,500.00 per dead dog killed by wolves forced to defend their pups from free ranging dogs in pursuit of bear. 

The fatalities continue to mount as Wisconsin bear hounder refuse to use caution in and around wolf rendezvous sites. Lack of regulation; the removal of class B training license this year impacted the hunting dog fatalities. 

You can weigh in on the controversy by writing letters to the editor, contacting your state legislators, and keeping the conversation about what’s best for Wisconsin’s wildlife going;

The forest provides a vast bounty of foods for black bears to forage. Wild berries, ripe apples, woodland grasses, and acorns are all natural foods of black bears. 

Dumping human foods in bear bait stations; cooking grease, gummy bears, marshmallows, donuts, and cereals is not a natural part of a black bear’s diet. 

The forest’s ecosystem provides all that the black bear needs. This is precisely why apples or blackberries ripen when they do; all in their good time for the bear, because he needs these calories for his long winter sleep called “hibernation.”

Bear hunters run dogs in pursuit of bear all summer long during the bear’s prime feeding times. 

This is not part of ethical “fair chase hunting.” Nor is this any type of bear conservation. 

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WODCW is working legislatively to ban bear hounding

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Featured image by Chris Norcott 

Wisconsin bear hunters and wolves a conflict spanning more than three decades…

..with no resolution in sight.

I was curious as to just how far apart were the two recent hunting dog depredations just outside of the town of Solon Springs. So I went to check it out.  I know this area well. I’ve spent over a half dozen summers and winters monitoring wolves and carnivores near the town of Solon Springs as a volunteer WI DNR Winter Wolf Tracker under the Wolf Recovery Program.  Two hunting dog depredations in Douglas county – On July 9 a six month old male Black and Tan, then on July 23, a seven year old Walker. WI DNR Wolf Caution Areas website  I drove right to the hunting dog depredation site (July 9) and sure enough recognized this as the area wolves have previously left pups at a rendezvous site. During summer months I would scout my tracking block and conduct wolf howl surveys. In this same area in 2002 while conducting a wolf howl survey I  heard pups howling (Photo: rendezvous site & now is a wolf caution area, photo by Rachel Tilseth). 


While walking the trail it was good to see wolf sign. Seeing this sign put a smile on my face. I knew this wolf territory like the back of my hand. Off in the distance I heard the familiar sound of baying dogs.  So I headed to the next hunting dog depredation site.

 The second hunting dog depredation site (July 23) was at best, less than three miles from the site that occurred on July 9th. There was something so familiar about this scenario. It almost felt like I was experiencing Déjà vu, because of all these recurring hunting dog depredations taking place in this area. 

It happened every summer, hunting dogs were killed by White Eyes (name given to the alpha female in my tracking block) as she defended her three month old pups against free ranging hunting dogs in the pursuit of bear.  White Eyes was a tenacious alpha wolf and she defended her pups every summer against hunting dogs running near her pups. 

I had a smile on my face as I recalled all the stories of her killing hunting dogs that ran into her pups.  I respected and admired her. Wolves are good parents and sad as it is for the loss of a hunting dog, White Eyes was doing what any parent would do to protect their children from outside threats. 

Wisconsin bear hunters and wolves a conflict spanning more than three decades…with no resolution in sight…it continues 

As I traveled through White Eyes’ territory I picked up a rock at each stop. I drove to one of her den sites and stacked the rocks together as a memorial to her. I felt her spirit that day though her “tenacious” offspring. 

  
In loving memory of White a Eyes, Alpha Wolf 2000 – 2009 

‘White Eyes’ alpha female-447F wolf of Douglas county Wisconsin

In loving memory of White Eyes who died in 2009 after being hit by a vehicle. She leaves a lasting legacy as one of the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

A history of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. 

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was started in 2012 to draw attention to the plight of wolves in Wisconsin. Wolves were being hunted with hound dogs, trapped and killed shortly after being taken of the endangered species list 2012. 

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Additional information and history on this conflict is available in the following blog by clicking on the highlighted blue words: Dogs may be trained statewide by pursuing bear in Wisconsin starting on July first resulting in bloody wolf-on-dog-fights 

Bear hounds die every July at an alarming rate…


Adult wolves are very defensive of pups at rendezvous 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 these 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. 


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Featured image: John E Marriott Photography

Is Wisconsin Ready to Pay the High Price for Hound Hunting?

When wolves were taken off the Endangered Species list in the Great Lakes area in 2012 Wisconsin rushed to legislatively mandate a wolf hunt.  Not only did the state mandate a hunt on wolves, they became the only state to allow the hunting of wolves with the aide of dogs-wolf hounding. Wolves were hunted by this brutal method for two seasons of WI’s wolf hunt 2013-2014. Even allowing wolf hound hunters to run dogs on wolves for training without any permanent rules,  Judge Rules That Dogs Can Chase Wolves As Training For Hunt

As of December 19, 2014 a federal judged ordered wolves in the Great Lakes back on the Endangered Species List (ESA). And every day since being returned to federal protection, wolves have been under attack by anti wolf legislation. If and when this happens remember that the state of Wisconsin is Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”

The following article was written about, Is state too open to hunting with dogs?  on October of 2013 but it is still pertinent today because it brings forth many questions that still need to be answered by Wisconsinites on the use of dogs. Why is this Brutal method of hunting still legal in Wisconsin?

Is state too open to hunting with dogs?

Patricia McConnell, an expert on animal behavior, is not against hunting and even raises lamb for food. But the University of Wisconsin-Madison zoologist and author is appalled by what she regards as blatant cruelty to animals sanctioned and abetted by the state.

“I’m sure most people don’t know this goes on in Wisconsin,” McConnell says. “I think most people would be horrified.”

McConnell is referring to the use of dogs to hunt other animals, like bear, with often deadly consequences. Joe Bodewes, a Minocqua-based veterinarian, described the damage to dogs by bear in a recent letter to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs,” he wrote. “Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table — all in the pursuit of sport.”

Bodewes, in an interview, says his small clinic treats about a dozen dogs a year mauled by bears while hunting. Usually two to four die. Recent cases include a dog whose jaw “was snapped off below the eyes” and one whose back muscles were “ripped loose from its spine.” Both survived.

Now Wisconsin is about to become the only state to let dogs be used in wolf hunts. A judge’s injunction blocking the use of dogs in last year’s inaugural hunt has been lifted; the case is now before a state appeals court. This year’s hunt, with a kill goal of 275 wolves, begins Tuesday. Dogs can be used beginning Dec. 2.

McConnell and others warn of inevitable violent clashes. And with good reason.

According to the state Department of Natural Resources, wolves have killed 23 hounds so far this year, tying a 2006 record. All were being used to hunt or pursue bear, says DNR wildlife damage specialist Brad Koele.

Their owners can receive up to $2,500 per animal from the state. Many have already applied.

“People who choose to put their dogs at extreme risk of horrific injury are compensated,” McConnell says. “Some of these dogs die painful deaths, in a blood sport that it some cases is no better than organized dog fights.”

A recent study found that Wisconsin has a higher dog casualty rate than Michigan, which also allows their use in bear hunts. The lead author, a Michigan Tech wildlife ecologist, speculated that Wisconsin’s compensation program creates “an incentive for abuse” — that is, hunters who deliberately put their dogs at great risk.

Since 1985, a DNR tally shows, the state has spent $441,651 to reimburse hunters for hounds killed by wolves, usually while hunting or pursuing bear. Until last year these payments, and more than $1 million paid for wolf depredations of other animals, came in part from the state’s Endangered Resources Fund.

Now these payments come from application and license fees paid by prospective wolf hunters. Last year, Koele confirms, none of these fees went for wolf population monitoring or hunt management costs.

McConnell and Bodewes trace the state’s policies back to small but politically powerful advocacy groups. These prominently include the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the state chapter of Safari Club International, and United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.

These three groups collectively spent nearly $400,000 since 2004 lobbying state officials, including their support for the wolf hunt law. Group officials did not respond to interview requests.

Former Republican state Rep. Scott Suder, the wolf hunt bill’s lead Assembly sponsor, helped United Sportsmen snare a $500,000 state grant, which Gov. Scott Walker yanked after concerns were raised about the group’s fitness and honesty. Suder ending up leaving a lucrative state appointment to become a lobbyist.

The owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting wolves are not eligible for compensation. While McConnell is glad state funds won’t go to this purpose, she notes that hunters have “no motivation to report” dogs killed or injured.

A DNR official says the agency may try to gather information about dog casualties in its post-hunting-season questionnaire.

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