Fringe Hunters: Living on the Edge of Morality

The death of ethics…

Wisconsin’s Gray wolves, credit Snapshot Wisconsin

Killing wild animals purely for sport is unethical and isn’t acceptable in this day & age. Yet, in the north woods of Wisconsin a few fringe hunters cling to sport-killing claiming it’s their heritage. Wisconsin’s Gray wolves are the only thing standing in the way of these fringe hunters. So every summer, year after year, they relentlessly harass gray wolves. Rendezvous sites are where gray wolves keep their young pups while they go off to hunt. Without any regard for these young pups, fringe hunters run their dogs through these sites in the pursuit of black bear. No doubt this careless act causes conflict, and dogs die. Caution is thrown to the wind, and the lust for violence takes precedent over morality.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources puts out wolf caution maps. Click here to view these wolf caution areas.

A couple decades ago Wisconsin began a compensation program to reimburse hunters for losses due to Gray wolves. Today it’s being abused. Abused through a lack of ethics because these same fringe hunters have worked to loosen regulations, making it easier to run dogs, unabated through Wisconsin’s north woods; demonstrating a lack morality, and their conduct isn’t anywhere near sportsmanlike!

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold

Let’s bring Wisconsin back in line with the values that made us known as a leader in conservation! Bring back the heart in conservation and most of all acknowledging the, “land as a community to which we all belong!”

Please take action…

Write letters to the Editor:

A letter to the editor is one way to keep your social cause, in this case wolf advocacy, in the public eye through your local newspaper.  Every newspaper has a section for opinion editorials or letters to the editor, read as many letters to the editor until you feel comfortable and then get to work on writing one of your own letters. 

Ask for a meeting with your Wisconsin representatives:

https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ is the webpage that gets you to information about Wisconsin’s State Legislature.

Wisconsin State Governor https://evers.wi.gov/Pages/Home.aspx home page.

Wisconsin Natural Resources Board https://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb/

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2018-2019, Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

Did you know that a wolf hunting and trapping season is required by law when Wisconsin’s Gray is not listed on the Endangered Species Act. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 was approved by the Governor Scott Walker-R in April 2012. This statute authorizes and requires a wolf hunting and trapping season. Numerous season and application details were described in the statute. Out of all the states that hunted wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves”.

Act 169 authorized the Department to delineate harvest management zones, set harvest quotas, and determine the number of licenses to be issued to accomplish the harvest objective.

Six-hundred and fifty-four gray wolves were killed during Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons that took place in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Thankfully, a federal judge in December 2014 threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. This decision banned further wolf hunting and trapping in three states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection.

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

The 2018-2019 Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Once a year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publishes a Wolf Monitoring Report 2018-2019 that was conducted using a territory mapping with telemetry technique, summer howl surveys, winter snow track surveys, recovery of dead wolves, depredation investigations, and collection of public observation reports.

In April 2019 the statewide minimum wolf population count was 914-978 wolves, a 1% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 978 gray wolves living throughout Wisconsin’s northern and central forests, minimum winter count, according to the WDNR Wolf Progress Report 2018-2019. All of this points to a wolf population that is self regulating or leveling off according to land carrying capacity.

Wolf Mortality…

A total of 41 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves.

Once again, according to the Wolf Progress Report, vehicle collisions (44%) and illegal kills (24%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were slightly higher than rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 94% of known cause detected mortalities overall.

Wolf Depredation…

During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 68 wolf complaints (wolf depredations) of the 121 investigated. While the number of confirmed livestock incidents increased from 37 in 2017-2018, the number of farms affected decreased from 31 the past 2 years.

The use of flandry, red strips of material, is used as deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.

There’s always work to be done when it comes to protecting livestock and wolves…

Watch the interview of Brad Koele WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist. I interviewed Koele on June 11, 2015 at the WDNR Wolf Population meeting held in Wausau Wisconsin.

Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent that saves lives! Foxlights have been used by Wisconsin farmers. I gave an interview to Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Danielle Keading on June 21, 2016.

Tilseth sold 25 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin and said they deter wolves from coming near livestock.

“It can be seen from a mile away,” she explained. “It operates with a six volt battery giving up to 12 months of nonstop protection. A light sensor automatically turns it on when it’s at dusk and turns it off during the day.”

These lights are just one of the abatements available to livestock producers in Wisconsin.

Once again it has been proven in scientific fact that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is keeping White-tailed deer populations healthy.

White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. White-tailed deer density estimates increased 7% statewide from the previous year estimate, but the majority of that increase was in wolf management unit 6 considered to be mostly unsuitable for wolf pack development. Wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range, contain 76% of the minimum winter wolf count. Deer density estimates remained stable at 25.3 deer / square mile of deer range in primary wolf range.

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection; proving the public wants gray wolves on the landscape! The Gray wolf is part is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy!

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

Who has more common sense & self-restraint: the hound hunter or the gray wolf? The conflict continues…

Just this week in Wisconsin a hound hunter ran his dog through a wolf rendezvous site, and two gray wolves killed his dog. He went into the area looking for his dog and witnessed two timber wolves holding onto the dead dog. He not only disturbed wolf pups, causing the death of his dog; he then walks right into the rendezvous site where wolves are already in defense of pups adding fuel to the fire! I’ve been a volunteer wolf tracker for 19 years, and this takes the cake! It wins the award for stupid! He’s posted it on his Facebook & claimed the two wolves went after him. I’ll tell ya something about wolves that if they were after him as he claims, they most definitely could of finished him off fast. But they did not. They did not touch a hair on his head. Because they are smarter than him, apparently! And proving they have more self-restraint than he does!

His post is now being shared on Facebook and being exaggerated, commented on, ranted on, & on, angrily & all because of a lack of common sense! It’s a wolf-hate-fest!

Photograph is of hound hunter’s dog. Dog was running on Bear right through gray wolf rendezvous site. It’s a well known fact, that wolves keep their young pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting.

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. 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. The 2018-19 overwinter minimum wolf count is 914-978, a 1% increase from the 2017-18 minimum count of 905-944. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf appears to be self regulating.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Social carrying 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.

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, especially with the possible delisting threats on the horizon. This would mean Wolf management would fall into state hands.

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

A broken system: Small family farms & Gray wolves are paying the price.

Producers are going broke yet the Federal Government keeps propping them up for more failures. The federal government paid more than $15.7 billion to agriculture and dairy subsidy applicants across the country to aid struggling producers in 2018. During the Great Depression farm subsidies were created to help keep farmers afloat and insure our nations food supply. (Source: Forbes August 2018). It was meant to help the family farmers survive the Great Depression. But today these farm subsidies are have become a lucrative business for corporations.

Top 10 U.S. farm subsidy recipients from 2008 through 2017 benefiting from 60 federal farm programs administered by the USDA. These government programs include marketing assistance, agricultural risk, price loss coverage, livestock forage, conservation, crop disaster and many more. OPENTHEBOOKS.COM (Forbes Article August 2018)

Meanwhile in Wisconsin family farms are going under by the dozens. Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018, an unprecedented rate of nearly two a day. Most were small operations unable to survive farm milk prices that, adjusted for inflation, were among the lowest in a half-century. (Source: JSonlne 2018).

I think the Federal Government is using Wisconsin’s Gray wolf as the perfect deterrent to discourage anyone from looking at the real problem.

Wisconsin farmers struggle when it comes to protecting their livestock from wolf attacks,” WFBF President Jim Holte said. “It is illegal for Wisconsin farmers to protect their livestock in the case of a wolf attack and there is no mechanism in place to control the population.” (Source: Wisconsin Farm Bureau 2019).

Producers are going broke yet the Federal Government keeps propping them up for more failures. Instead of fixing the problem corrupt politicians use the gray wolf as the perfect deterrent. We are delving deep into this story…

More to come:

Why is the Federal Government throwing more tax dollars into a broken system? Gray wolves & family farms are paying the price.

Compassionate Conservation—Saving The Lives of Wild Carnavore and Livestock

Real world solutions to using non lethal wolf management for people and wild Carnavore.

I’ve been a volunteer for Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since 1998. There were only 66 wolf packs in the state at that time. Today there are roughly 232 wolf packs spread through the northern and central forests. Thankfully wolf and livestock conflicts are at a minimum, and there are many non lethal solutions available for livestock producers to employ. There are many factors involved, and employing them as soon ass possible is being proactive. There are several abatements available, such as; Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent, flandry, and guard animals. These solutions need to be put in place before wolf depredation occurs to any livestock. And it’s important that livestock producers burry any livestock so the carcasses don’t attract wolves.

One very important step to coexistence for people & gray wolves is to educate and advocate by helping & educating those living in wolf country. The objective is to save the lives of Gray wolves and livestock. Whether we live in the city or urban areas, in or out of wolf range, it’s all about solving how we live alongside wolves! Wisconsin’s wild wolf is back on the landscape, and has been since the late 1970s. The Gray wolf is an essential part of the ecosystem. Let’s work together to save Gray wolves and livestock!

I’m a distributor of Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent.

The following is a short video I filmed of Brad Khole WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist.

Click here for more reading about ways to reduce conflicts between wolves and Livestock owners.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Will Likely Pay the Price for Sheep Farmers’ Mistakes!

Non lethal wolf management can work, but only if everyone is onboard. Recently a sheep farm in Northern Wisconsin’s wolf range lost a number of sheep to wolves. Several factors contributed to the loss. For one, the farmers locked up the expensive guard dogs at night fearing the wolves would kill them. Then the farmers slept through the night not even hearing the penned up guard dog’s alarm barks. This is the second time, 2016, that predation has occurred on this sheep farm. Now due to these mistakes anti wolf politicians will have a field day crying-big-bad-wolf again.

This is not the first time this Sheep farm as had wolf depredations.

“This is the second time the Caniks have suffered a large loss of sheep from their farm. In 2016, wolves, potentially of the same pack, killed 17 of their bighorn sheep, valued at $1,200 each. After that depredation, the USDA Wildlife Service installed two miles of fladry — a string of colored flags that move in the wind — accompanied by electric fencing around the perimeter of the pasture. That fencing had not been installed yet this year when the attack happened Monday.” Source

“All 17 (killed in 2016) were a variety of bighorn sheep, being raised to breed and give birth to more bighorns. The Caniks sell the bighorns to hunting clubs and game preserves across America, helping those organizations stock their lands for trophy hunters.” Source

The couple kept their expensive guard dogs penned up at night.

But if you live in wolf range, are a sheep farmer, one shouldn’t lock up the expensive guard dogs at night. Using non lethal wolf management requires being proactive. That means establishing methods early on before predation occurs. It seems obvious in this case the farmers have made the mistakes this time, and you can bet the wolf pack will pay the price. Pay the price for the mistakes made by these sheep farmers, who lost Big Horned Sheep being raised for canned hunting in 2016. Again, they cry wolf!

“Evidently we were sleeping too sound and didn’t hear the dogs,” Paul said. “They usually bark loud enough to alert us whenever the wolves are around.”

USF&WS is preparing to delist wolves in the Lower 48 states.

Make sure you get your comments in regarding USF&WS proposed delisting of Gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Click here to make your comment.

And the public comment period has been extended to July 15, 2019.

Media Release: Federal Wildlife Officials Propose Lifting Endangered Species Act Protections For Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 States

The announcement was made on Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The move would return management to the states and tribes, which would reinstate Wisconsin’s wolf hunt that began in 2012.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to propose a rule to “delist” the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Lower 48 states.

Wisconsin’s Record On Wolf Management

Wisconsin became the only state to allow hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to wolves in two of the three wolf hunts in 2013 & 2014. Wisconsin hunters killed 528 wolves in the three seasons a hunt was held in the state before the animal was placed back on the endangered species list.

The Gray Wolf Monitoring Report done through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and can be found on their website estimates 905-944 wolves reside in Wisconsin’s northern & central forests.

Livestock depredations included 29 cattle killed and 1 injured, and 4 sheep killed. The number of farms affected was the same as the previous monitoring year. That number doesn’t include depredations of hunting dogs.

In wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range and containing 80% of the minimum winter wolf count, deer density estimates increased 19% compared to 2016.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plans to propose a rule to “delist” the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Lower 48 states. USF&WS is required to hold a public comment period on this ruling.

If delisting does occur in Wisconsin, my hope is that with the new WDNR Secretary in place, the required wolf management plan will include greater transparency allowing for public input in how the Gray wolf is managed.

There hasn’t been a wolf hunt since 2014. The Gray wolf is thriving on Wisconsin’s landscape, the wolf population is exhibiting signs of self-regulating, Gray wolves and White-tailed deer are benefiting each other once again, and livestock depredations aren’t a major threat.