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.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Needs Your Help…

Every summer hunters running dogs on Black Bear in the north woods come into conflict with Gray wolves. 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 because 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.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Socialcarrying 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. Table 1 contains a summary of the 2018 dog depredations by wolves.

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!

There are a few of us beginning to work towards addressing the conflict between bear hunters and Wisconsin’s Gray wolf.

You can help by emailing me at wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com for more information.

Then, I can add you to our email updates.

The conflict between bear hunters and wolves has become polarized into opposing factions that polarize any campaign to remedy it. I propose we break through and start to mitigate the conflict.

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

Several dogs in pursuit of bear were “thrown to wolves” over the weekend in Wisconsin’s north woods

Decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves continues with more hunting dogs killed.  Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves depredated the following hunting dogs over the weekend.  A Walker Hound on 8/12/17 in the Town of Blaine, Burnett County.  Then again on the very next day; Two Walker Hounds in the same incident on 8/13/17 in the Town of Blaine, Burnett County. DNR Wolf Caution Areas

In a response to a Criminal Complaint filed by PEER the president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association to a Star Tribune article; said, “As I stated before, with freedom you also have the freedom to make bad choices.  And to hunt in the exact same place that your hunting dogs got killed and eaten is your choice. But I know the vast majority of hunters do not.”  Carl Schoettel, president of Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA).

“Disposable dogs” 

And to hunt in the exact same place that your hunting dogs got killed and eaten is your choice.  ~Carl Schoettel, WBHA

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. 

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed A criminal complaint cites; State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes, on August 2, 2017 filed complaint on behalf of an anonymous confidential public employee. 

About PEER (protecting employees who protect our environment) As a service organization assisting federal, state & local public employees, PEER allows public servants to work as “anonymous activists” so that agencies must confront the message, rather than the messenger. 

Wisconsin Hounders Illegally Harass Wolves Criminal Complaint, Press Release:,“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.”

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. Read full editorial here

Second Hunting Hound Killed in Black Bear Pursuit Training

Eighteen days into the 2-month-long period for training hunting dogs to pursue black bear in northern Wisconsin, the WI DNR confirmed that a Plott hound hunting dog had been killed by wolves in Ashland county, Wisconsin as the bloody dog-on-wolf conflict continues.

From July 1st through the end of August, hounders are allowed to train their dogs to pursue free-roaming wild black bear. The WI DNR posts wolf caution areas when there has been a conflict with wolves on public land. There is an interactive map that allows anyone to see the locations of verified wolf conflicts from 2013 to the present day. Bear hounders are urged by the DNR not to run their hounds through these areas. Yet some hounders, abreast of the latest information, continue to run their dogs through these wolf caution areas.

Caution Area is established to warn hunters or others who may be recreating in an area where conflicts between wolves and a dog or group of dogs have been documented. Individuals accessing these areas are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train or hunt wild game with dogs or allow pets to run off leash, especially in areas where multiple conflicts have been documented. From the WI DNR website

Wolves often use the same den sites from year to year. Wolf pups are born in April and are only 2-3 months old when bear-hounding training begins. Wolf pups usually spend most of their days near the den site or a rendezvous area. Wolves are protective of their families and see other canids, coyotes and dogs, as threats to their pups. Running hounds through known wolf den or rendezvous areas needlessly endangers the lives of both the hounds and the wolves.

Wisconsin Wolf Depredation program compensates hounders $2500 if one of their hounds is killed by wolves during the bear hounding training and hunting periods, even if hounders run their dogs in the wolf caution areas posted by the WI DNR. Wisconsin is the only state to compensate hound hunters for their dogs. In 2016, compensation was paid out for 37 bear-hounding dog depredations. A few anti-wolf politicians claim this was due to the increase in Wisconsin’s wolf population, but wildlife biologist, Adrian Wydeven, points out that in 2012, when the wolf population was similar in numbers to 2016, there were only 7 hounding dog depredations.

Dog owners are reminded to exercise caution in wolf occupied areas, especially those using their dogs to hunt. Conflicts between hunting dogs and wolves are most common during the bear training and hunting season. From the WI DNR website

Why the drastic increase in hound depredation payouts in 2016? Perhaps the loosening of regulations regarding bear baiting and hunting. In 2015, Wisconsin eliminated the class B bear license, allowing an unlimited number of residents and non-residents to participate in bear baiting, running hounds on bear, and pursuing bears. Also, hunters can bait bears 6 months out of the year – April 15th through the end of bear-hunting season in the middle of October. No one knows how many hounds are running through the forests or how many bait stations are set out in the north woods.

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Wisconsin residents, wildlife, and hunting dogs deserve better. It’s time to demand that our politicians practice humane treatment of wildlife using best available science in policy.  It’s even better to remove politicians from making natural resources decisions.

For more information on new research about baiting of Wisconsin’s Black bear go to: Human food subsidies make up more than 40% of the diet of bears in northern Wisconsin

Spike in wolf depredation is a result of the class B bear license being eliminated…

Former DNR biologists Adrian Wydeven says the wolf population wasn’t all that different in 2012 when only 7 were reportedly killed by wolves.  He believes the spike in wolf depredation is a result of the class B bear license being eliminated. Wydeven there are likely a larger number of dogs out hunting and tracking bears this year since the permit is no longer required. Source

News articles foooding Wisconsin papers this week continue to scapegoat the wolf instead of addressing the real problem. 

Read the following article: 

Hunters worry over safety after record number of hunting dogs killed by wolves By Jorge Rodas

OCONTO FALLS, Wis. (WBAY) — A record number of hunting dogs have been killed in Wisconsin by wolves during this year’s bear hunt and hunters are not happy about it.
Hunters are once again pushing for wolf population management.
Manny Elbe is an experienced bear hunter and says there are too many wolves roaming free.
“It’s a terrible thing when your dog’s eaten alive, you know, and it hasn’t happened to me yet but a lot of guys that i know, they’ve lost a lot of good dogs,” said Eble.
During this year’s bear hunt, a record 40 hunting dogs were killed by wolves.
Eble says it’s a simple equation — more wolf attacks, means more wolves.
But former DNR biologists Adrian Wydeven says the wolf population wasn’t all that different in 2012 when only 7 were reportedly killed by wolves.
He believes the spike in wolf depredation is a result of the class B bear license being eliminated. Wydeven there are likely a larger number of dogs out hunting and tracking bears this year since the permit is no longer required.
Eble says wolf population is larger than the state acknowledges – the Wis. DNR says the number is about 900.
“It’s an estimate — and that’s the world that we work in – but when you can put years of data trends in terms of whether the population is increasing or decreasing and certainly over the past three years that population has grown,” says Jeff Pritzl, Wis. DNR regional program manager.
“When you’re looking for tracks in the winter coyote hunting you’ll find 25 wolf tracks to 2 coyote tracks,” Eble says, convinced wolf population is the main reason for the dog killings.
 
Wolves are federally protected because they’re on the endangered species list meaning they can’t be hunted in Wisconsin. Right now the courts are determining if they should continue to be on that list.
Eble says until that’s settled, more dogs will be killed.
“20 seconds is all it takes and your dog’s literally ripped in half,” Eble said. “Blackberry pickers, a lot of people you talk to, they’re all carrying guns. They’re not worried about bears, they’re worried about wolves.”  Source

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Featured image John E Marriott