One of the biggest problems in the wildlife advocacy movement is that far more often than not we are in a reactive mode rather than a proactive one. This was certainly the case in 2012 following the Obama Administration’s delisting of gray wolves in the Great Lakes. National “wildlife advocacy” groups made the assumption that the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan wouldn’t be as brutal and aggressive as those in the Northern Rockies when it came to wolves. They could not have been more wrong. The very day that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List, Rep. Scott Suder (R-ALEC) and allies introduced a very odious bill that allowed wolf hunting, trapping, and worst of all hounding of wolves.
The moment that I heard about this bill and the provision to allow dogs against wolves I knew that things were about to get bad very fast. In the following days I contacted my legislators and various national wildlife/animal welfare groups to inform them of the impending disaster that this bill would bring if passed. The reaction from these groups was almost as horrifying as the bill itself. They essentially blew off my concerns and apparently didn’t believe that Wisconsin would follow through with the brutality included in the bill. Of course that was proven wrong and now Wisconsin is the ONLY state in the country that allows dogs to be used against wolves. Now wildlife advocates at both the local and national level are left trying to react to the extreme brutality that this bill allowed.
But it gets worse. Far worse. In 2012 a coalition of humane societies and wildlife advocates filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the barbaric use of dogs against wolves. Initially a Dane County judge barred hounders from “training” their dogs against wolves but allowed them to use the dogs to “hunt” them. This confusing ruling was appealed to the Wisconsin District 4 Court of Appeals. Last week the appeals court ruled that hounders could use their dogs to “train” against wolves. Apparently, Wisconsin must maintain their title of the Blood Sport Capital of the United States. Of course as with most court rulings the “law of unintended consequences” is rearing it’s ugly head.
This morning Melanie Weberg, of Wildlife Public Trust & Coexistence, spoke via telephone to Wisconsin DNR Carnivore Specialist, Dave McFarland. In response to various questions about hounders and “training” on wolves some very disturbing information was confirmed and the DNR is giving the impression that they are afraid of the general public learning this information as according to McFarland no press release will be issued by the agency. McFarland confirmed that there are currently no rules preventing hounders from waging all out war against wolves under the guise of “training. ” These elements were confirmed according to Melanie’s conversation with McFarland:
In other words, as you will see, there are no regulations.
Training can take place 24 hours/day; 365 days/year
Unlimited dogs on a wolf with unlimited hunters
Dog trialing can take place if within regulations (which there are none)
No licenses required
Out of state trainers allowed
I can see why the DNR does not want this publicized. The hounders already know this but the DNR is facing a public relations nightmare if word gets out that hounders can “train” against wolves 24/7/365 with ZERO restrictions. Thank you Scott Suder and the Wisconsin Legislature.
One of the first things that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did in 2011 was sign a bill that allowed bear hounders to begin “training” their dogs against wild bears starting July 1st of each year. The hounders are allowed to send up to six dogs at a time against wild bears to “train them. When those dogs tire a fresh groups of six dogs can then be unleashed against the bear. Some of these pursuits can last 10 hours or more as hounders often brag. It is also during these “bear hound “training” times that the vast majority of dogs are allegedly killed by wolves. For each dog that is killed by wolves the hounder receives a $2500 payout from the Wisconsin DNR. These payouts have gone to repeat claimants and people with serious criminal convictions. Now that hounders can “train” their dogs against wolves 24/7/365 expect many more dogs to be killed by wolves defending their territory and offspring. While Wisconsin law states that wolf hounders will not receive a reimbursement for dogs killed while “hunting and training” against wolves, all the hounder needs to claim is that they were “training” against bears or “hunting” coyotes. When the dog is killed the DNR will not know any different and a nice fat $2500 check will be issued to the hounder. When the DNR has been questioned about this possibility they say that they rely on the “honesty” of the hounder. What?
The DNR and their bear hounder puppet masters do not want you to know about this for obvious reasons. Both are under a microscope despite their deflecting propaganda that there were no “conclusive” signs of fighting between wolves and dogs this last killing season. Of course they neglect to mention that the hounder killed wolf bodies turned over to the DNR were far too decomposed and degraded to make any conclusive determinations. See report here. Wisconsin Wolf Season Report If hounding is the “ultimate family sport” and part of Wisconsin’s “tradition” or “heritage” then why wouldn’t the DNR be proud to put out a press release advertising that wolves are now open to be hounded 24/7/365? How about the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association? Why not put out a press release crowing about your ” family sport” and “heritage” and how you are now free to hound wolves under the guise of training 24/7/365?
Do not let them hide this information. Please share this far and wide to anyone that you know who cares about wildlife. Wisconsin wants to keep under wraps this unlimited hounding information until they put “permanent” training rules in place NEXT YEAR. The hounders know about it but they do not want YOU to know. I cannot understate or repeat too often that there are ZERO RESTRICTIONS for the use of dogs against wolves other than hounders supposedly not being able to allow their dogs to kill wildlife. Even that “restriction” appears not to be enforced.
Wisconsin is now ground zero in terms of being the most brutal place in the country for wolves and other wildlife. Dogs are now a weapon to be used against wolves and other wildlife, often with no restrictions. Is this the kind of state that we want to live in? If ethical hunters do exist, where are you? Speak out. For anyone that cares about wildlife DEMAND that your legislators ban the use of dogs against wolves. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Let people know that hounders can use their dogs against wolves 24/7/365. DEMAND that your legislators explain why it is acceptable for dogs to be used against wolves and other wildlife. Do not sit on this information. Please share and share widely.
This may also be discussed at the next Wolf Advisory Committee meeting on July 22nd in Wausau, WI. The meeting will be held from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM at:
Howard Johnson Hotel
2101 North Mountain Rd.
Please contact your legislators here: