Press release: Wisconsin hounders illegally harass wolves.

Criminal Complaint Cites State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) Click HERE for PEER news release

For Immediate release : Aug 02, 2017

Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

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.

To read letter request for a full investigation click here 

During Wisconsin’s 2016 hunting season, forty-eight hounds were killed by wolves and more than fifteen of these cases occurred after hunters were informed that they were hunting in “wolf caution areas” where wolf depredations had occurred. Wisconsin also allows for training dogs to pursue bears from July 1st through August 31st – the period when female wolves are tending to their pups and are more aggressive about defending their young and their territory.

“Wisconsin encourages hunting practices that seem calculated to cause fatal conflicts with wolves,” stated PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco, who filed the complaint today with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act. “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.”

Wisconsin is also the only state with a program that compensates the owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting other animals. Under the program, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) pays each hunter $2,500 per hound killed during a wolf depredation event. In 2017 alone, the state paid out $99,400 to hunters for hounds killed by wolves.

Gray wolves are classified as an endangered species in the Great Lakes region. 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.

Compounding the conflicts is the fact that bear hunting with hounds (“hounding”) is basically unregulated in Wisconsin, despite it being a banned hunting practice in 32 states. In 2015, the state eliminated the bear hound training licenses previously required. Both residents and non-residents may now participate in bear baiting, hunting, and training without a license.

“Wisconsin DNR does not pretend to manage bear hunting in any discernible fashion, nor do they even bother to monitor what is taking place,” added Carlesco, noting that the DNR compensated individuals who had prior convictions for hunting related crimes. “In any prosecution of criminal take of wolves, DNR deserves to be an unindicted co-conspirator.”

The PEER complaint asks the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to open criminal investigations of twenty-two individuals who engaged in hounding during the 2016 season in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest or on DNR-managed land and who also received wolf-related compensation for damage or loss of hounds from the state. If the agency determines that criminal take took place, PEER asks that the cases be referred to the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution. 

We’ve been working with PEER to make this happen & providing background information on this issue, and we were copied in on this press release. We are sharing this breaking news story with you.  Wisconsin Public Radio will have a full news story out on this criminal Complaint. 

Rachel

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Blog Harassment of an endangered species in Wisconsin north woods

Three more hunting dogs killed in the pursuit of bear…

Hunters began running dogs in pursuit of bear for training on July first. Wildlife Services confirmed that the following dogs were klled in pursuit of bear took place over the weekend: A Plott Hound on 07/29/17 in the Town of Gordon, Douglas County.  A Walker Hound on 07/30/17 in the Town of Drummond, Bayfield County.  A Walker Hound on 07/30/17 in the Town of Round Lake, Sawyer County. Six dogs have been killed in pursuit of bear since the opening of July first training season.  DNR Wolf caution areas states: Hunters are reminded to use the caution-area maps on the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov, keyword “wolf depredation”) to help reduce conflicts.

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. More information on this on WODCW’s Blog

The needless deaths of three more hunting dogs comes on the heals of good news for wolves in the Great Lakes Region.

Wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming won another reprieve Tuesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the animals must remain under federal Endangered Species Act protection.

The appellate court backed a district court decision that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t shown that it properly followed federal laws when it declared wolves partially “recovered” across just a portion of the animal’s historical range. To read more about this appeals court decision click HERE