Wisconsin Hounders Poised to Get Immediate Payouts for their “Depredation” Scam

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Plott hound. This is the type of dog often used by bear hounders to fight other wildlife. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Just when you thought that Wisconsin’s “hound depredation payment” scam couldn’t get anymore ridiculous along comes this. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Under a budget provision approved by the Joint Finance Committee, the DNR would write a check as soon as it was confirmed that a dog was killed by a wolf instead of waiting until after the start of a new calendar year. The delay had been designed to determine if enough funding was available for full payments or if they would be prorated.

In other words the already reckless legal animal fighters will have another incentive to encourage more wolf on dog fights and to make sure that their “disposable” dogs end up on the losing end so that those $2500 checks from the DNR just flow right in. In the past couple of years the Wisconsin legislature has removed the license requirement for bear hounders and baiters opening the door for an endless stream of legal animal fighters to flow into northern Wisconsin for the almost four month hound “training” season that begins July 1st of each year. This includes many hounders from states both near and far all hoping to cash in on those $2500 checks that seem to have become some sort of hounder welfare/lottery.

Let’s put this into another context. The hounders are practicing their sick “sport” of their own free will and with no oversight from the government in the form of a license. When something goes wrong while they freely participate in their “sport” it somehow becomes the responsibility of the government to pay them for their “loss.” How does that make any sense? Does the government pay you if you crash your bike on a bike trail? Does the government pay you if you sprain your ankle while playing basketball at a government owned park? Does the government pay you when you strike one of the deer that they insist remain at artificially inflated levels? No they don’t. So why do hounders continue to grift on the government for their own reckless behavior and the practice of their depraved “sport?”

The “hound depredation” payouts began as essentially a bribe to keep hounders from poaching wolves as they were filtering back into Wisconsin from Minnesota. The hope was that by paying off the hounders for dogs killed by wolves they would refrain from poaching. Nice message to send. “We know that you hounders will break the law and poach a protected species so here are some bribe payments so that you don’t.” The hounders must be such upstanding citizens that the government has to bribe them to follow the law. Does the government bribe bank robbers so that they don’t rob banks? Does the government bribe rapists, so they don’t rape? Murderers so they don’t murder? Thieves so they don’t steal? No, so why are hounders paid off so that they don’t commit crimes?

The latest action by the legislature to further encourage legal dog fighting at no risk to the hounders is appalling and shows that this state is incapable of “managing” wolves or any other form of wildlife. Wisconsin should be embarrassed that these legal animal fighters have such pull in our system of government and that you and I pay them for their reckless acts. What’s next? Placing an ATM in the middle of the woods for even faster payouts? This scam needs to end and end soon.

Read more here:

As payouts from dog-wolf conflicts reach new record, quicker payouts sought for hunters

Wisconsin WildCare: A Ray of Sunshine in Our Brutal State

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Nursing mother raccoon that the blog author photographed last week.

Being a wildlife advocate is not easy. The day after day losses and exposure to the endless cruelty is heartbreaking, demoralizing, and can often push one to the breaking point. This is why every once in awhile we must be able to cling to rays of sunshine in an increasingly cruel and bleak world for our wild friends. One of those “rays of sunshine” exists in our own state in the form of Wisconsin WildCare.

What is Wisconsin WildCare? This description comes from their website:

Wisconsin WildCare is made up of a network of licensed rehabilitators and volunteers who work together to educate the public about the benefits of and how to live with our native wildlife. Together, we strive to help people not only notice, but appreciate, the wildlife around them.When wildlife comes into conflict with people, we work with both the humans and the animals towards a humane solution. Our goal is to reduce conflict through education and prevention.Wisconsin WildCare also provides rehabilitative care to orphaned and injured wildlife. Our licensed rehabilitators and trained foster volunteers prepare the animals in our care for eventual release back into the wild.

In a state as brutal toward wildlife as Wisconsin is, Wisconsin WildCare provides a lifeline for so many innocent victims so that they get a chance at life. Each year an untold number of wild animals become casualties of Wisconsin’s brazen and endless war on wildlife or from being hit my cars. Wild babies can end up as orphans for a myriad of reasons but more often than not it is due to Wisconsin’s war on wildlife or by misguided property owners who believe that killing is the only solution to perceived “nuisance” animals. If the babies are lucky enough to be discovered following the death of their mother, Wisconsin WildCare and their passionate volunteers step in to provide 24/7 care to these babies.

Not everyone is cut out to be a volunteer foster for orphaned wild animals. For those who are Wisconsin WildCare is always in need of kind and caring individuals to help give these orphaned and injured animals a chance at life. If you can’t physically volunteer there are other ways that you can help.

The easiest way is to set up your Amazon.com account as an AmazonSmile account. AmazonSmile allows a percentage of your purchase to go toward the charity of your choice. You can set up your charity of choice to be Wisconsin WildCare.

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You can also directly donate on the Wisconsin WildCare website. Please also follow Wisconsin WildCare on Facebook.

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These are some truly wonderful people doing amazing things to give a chance at life for so many injured and orphaned wild animals, but they need your support. Please consider volunteering, making a donation, or setting up an AmazonSmile donation from each Amazon purchase. In the world of wildlife advocacy we keep going because people like these exist to help salvage life amidst the rampant and heartless death that this state promotes. Each life that is saved is a victory for our side and we need all of the victories that we can get.

How is Breeding, Raising, and Releasing Non-Native Birds to be Killed, “Conservation?”

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Female and male Chinese ringneck pheasants. These are the type of birds that are raised and released by the Wisconsin DNR for “hunter opportunity.” Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most ridiculously framed arguments that the killing cartels use to justify their wanton bloodlust is that if they don’t kill wildlife, they will die. Yes that is their chief argument along with a myriad of other absurd statements. The modern “great white hunter” would lead you to believe that they are doing you a “favor” by killing millions upon millions of animals each and every year. They will also tell you they “fund conservation” through their meager killing license fees. Another fallacy. The money from those killing licenses go to fund the agencies that exist only to provide more killing opportunity. Why do I say this? Each year in Wisconsin an untold number of hand-raised and fed non-native Asian ring-neck pheasants are bred, raised, and released by the Wisconsin DNR at taxpayer expense with one goal in mind. That goal is to provide living targets to help satiate the bloodlust of the modern “great white hunter.” A question that seems elusive here is, how does raising tens of thousands of NON-NATIVE Asian birds bred only to be shot have anything to do with “conservation?” It doesn’t despite what the Wisconsin DNR and killing cartels will tell you. The state of Wisconsin has made the breeding of this non-native species of pheasant into a money maker for them to “produce” more and more birds only for the purpose of being blown out of the sky or off the ground by “great white hunters” and their shotguns strictly for “recreation.” The Wisconsin DNR, by providing facilities, staff, and taxpayer money is in the canned “hunting” business and has been for a very long time.

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Screenshot from the Wisconsin DNR Facebook page.

The DNR and killing cartels will tell you that this is “conservation” in action. I ask what exactly is being “conserved” other than the money being brought in by the “hunters” waiting at pheasant release sites with dog and shotgun in hand? In my view there is nothing even remotely related to “conservation” with this program and it exists to further exploit the sick and twisted blood cult that “hunting” in Wisconsin has become. There aren’t enough WILD animals to kill in Wisconsin? There aren’t enough “hunter opportunities” when there is one killing “season” or another open for 365 days a year? Apparently not enough to satiate that good old Wisconsin “heritage” of recreational killing. Of course should this surprise anyone? The DNR, like every other state or federal killing agency, likes to pretend that their obsession with killing, killing, and killing some more is all just “wholesome family fun” and “conservation.” If their world animals are not born, they are “produced.” In their world animals do not grow up, they are “recruited.” In their world animals are not killed, they are “harvested,” or in the most recent example of fluffing up the act of killing they are a “target animal reduced to possession.”

Kill, kill, kill some more, and if there isn’t enough to kill, the Wisconsin DNR will just “produce” more non-native animals for you to kill. Excuse me. I meant for you to “reduce to possession. As I have asked before: How is this “conservation?”

 

The NRA Wants “War” Against Animal Advocates….Bring it On

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Image from rationalwiki.org.

When not shilling for money on the backs of ruthlessly murdered grade school children or giving dystopian filled fear mongering speeches about the dangers of the “left wing” to “real” Americans, the gun industry/far right front group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has decided to “declare war” against animal advocates.

From the article:

The gun group is rolling out a new ad campaign geared toward hunters, a segment of firearm owners whose concerns have been eclipsed as the NRA transformed into a political powerhouse and threw its weight behind fights over self-defense and access to weapons. To sway its audience, the NRA is deploying its favorite tactic. It is trying to scare them.

“To save hunting, you must understand the terms of the battle,” a landing page for the campaign reads. “Because the animal rights extremists fighting to destroy hunting have an even more destructive goal: the systematic diminishment of humanity itself.”

The ad campaign consists of 10 videos paired with essays, featuring appearances and bylines by notable hunters and outdoorsmen like David Draper, a well-known writer for Field & Stream magazine. Put together, the package paints a picture of a world where hunting is under threat by animal rights activists.

I find it quite amazing how one minute killing cartels like the NRA and their members label animal advocates as “bunny huggers” or “snowflakes” while in the next breath compare us to terrorists like Al Qaeda.

From the article:

The NRA handed off Weaver’s hunting outreach duties to Josh Powell, now the national spokesman for NRA Hunting, who is not shy about being political.

“We are in the middle of a war,” he says in one of the campaign’s videos, before comparing tangling with organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society to “dealing with Al Qaeda.”

I can’t name any wildlife advocates that affiliate with PETA and even fewer that agree with their belief system. Actually it seems to me that the NRA and the famous chickenhawks that lead them or sit on their board are once again using fear and division to raise money. This kind of inflammatory rhetoric and calls for “war” against animal advocates may very well raise a lot of money but not in the way that they think. Calling millions of people “terrorists” and comparing them to international terror outfits hasn’t worked to well for other far right zealots, has it? In fact, as a veteran, I have a real problem with an organization with cowardly draft dodgers at the helm calling myself and others in the animal advocacy movement “terrorists.”

We are not the ones using FEAR to raise money. We are not the ones using FEAR to pass anti-free speech laws at the behest of “affiliate groups.” We are not the ones using FEAR to push for the eradication of imperiled predator species like wolves and grizzlies in Congress and through the courts. We aren’t the ones using FEAR to make every rube believe that over the last eight years the “scary black man” in the White House was going to knock on your door and take your precious guns. Instilling FEAR is a component of TERROR thus leading to terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic most often used to achieve political gain. Remind me again who look like the REAL “terrorists” here? It sure isn’t the millions of animal advocates. Could it instead be the behemoth gun industry/far right front group that uses FEAR to rake in the dollars?

Pot meet kettle NRA. It’s actually quite pathetic that these big tough, rugged, and “patriotic” Americans are so scared of the little snowflake bunny huggers like myself and the millions of other animal advocates. I guess they better just go buy more guns………

 

Man That Tortured Three Coyotes With a Snowmobile in 2009 Received $5000 in 2016 for “Hound Depredations”

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Coyote photo via Wikimedia Commons

Last week I wrote about a hounder by the name of Michael Wood from Amery, Wisconsin that received $5000 from the Wisconsin DNR in 2016 for two hounds that were allegedly killed by wolves. In the post we pointed out that a subject with the same name out of Amery had a conviction on three counts of intentionally mistreating animals in 2009 out of Bayfield County.

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Screenshot of OPEN RECORD from the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access 

Upon further research we found that the same subject was also under open charges for poaching a bear and resisting a warden in September of 2016, two months after the alleged “depredation” of his hounds.

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Screenshot of OPEN RECORD from the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access 

Through an open records request we were able to obtain the original criminal complaint for the 2009 incident that Wood was convicted of and it is even more horrifying than we imagined.

From the criminal complaint:

Complainant is a Conservation Warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She makes this complaint on information and belief from the records and reports collected and maintained in the ordinary course of business. On Friday, February 20, 2009 at approximately 4:41 p.m. Egstad was at the Bayfield DNR Office when she received a phone call concerning a snowmobiler chasing what the caller thought to be a wolf on the ice of Lake Superior on Bark Bay, west of Cornucopia in the Town of Bell, Bayfield County, Wisconsin. Egstad left the office and proceeded towards the site of the complainant. Egstad spoke by phone with Dan and Sharon Sheldon who stated that they had watched one person on an orange snowmobile chase around what they believed to be a wolf on the ice at Bark Bay and had hit the animal with his snowmobile. They observed the person pick up the animal and drive to the Bark Bay point boat landing. They stated that they had observed the snowmobiler chase the animal for 30 minutes at least and hit the animal a couple of times with the snowmobile. At approximately the same time Egstad was contacted by Mark Hanson, Bayfield Department of Natural Resources Creel Clerk who stated that he had observed a snowmobiler chasing coyotes and hitting them as well as picking them up when they were laying on the ice. Hanson stated that he had taken digital photos of the pick-up truck that the snowmobiler was driving. The plate of the vehicle came back registered to Michael J. Wood of Amery, Wisconsin, the defendant herein. Egstad had previously been advised that the truck in question was at a residence in the area. Egstad went to the location and met with Michael Wood. Egstad was advised by Wood that he had been out fishing on the ice during the day and had gotten three coyotes that were in his trailer. Egstad asked Wood how he had gotten the coyotes and Wood stated that he had shot them with his .22. Egstad observed the coyotes and believed them to be suffering from much more damage than if they had been shot with a .22. Wood denied using his snowmobiles to hit the coyotes but admitted to following them until they were tired and then shot them. Egstad observed Wood’s snowmobile and the track and belly pan had blood under the front end skis and track consistent with the animals having been run over. Egstad seized the three coyotes and subsequently had them skinned. No bullet hole was found in the carcass or skin or coyote number one, however, major trauma was located throughout the body. Coyote number two was also skinned and again evidence of severe trauma was located, however no bullet hole was observed. Coyote number three showed severe trauma throughout the body, however, trauma was also located in a restricted area near the location of one bullet hole.

Download the entire criminal complaint:

Michael Wood Criminal Complaint 2009

This person received $5000 of taxpayer money for two separate hound “depredation” incidents in 2016 despite having this type of history. Then two months after the “depredations,” Wood allegedly poached a bear and is also charged for resisting a warden. Did this stop the DNR from this year paying out the $5000 for 2016 AFTER the new charges were filed? No it did not. Once again we have not only a convicted criminal being rewarded for TWO separate incidents where his hounds were allegedly killed by wolves, but he still receives the payment from the DNR after allegedly poaching a bear and resisting a warden. This guy tortured three coyotes with a snowmobile and was convicted for it. Then he allegedly poaches a bear and resists a warden. Is it any surprise that he is also a hounder that recklessly puts his dogs in danger and gets two of them killed? That sure doesn’s surprise me.

Have we had enough yet Wisconsin? Contact your state legislators and tell them ENOUGH of this scam and ENOUGH of rewarding reckless hounders and convicted criminals for their behavior.

Find your legislators HERE

 

 

Guest Blog: What happens in the woods should not stay in the woods…the secret must be told

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What is the secret?

Baiting bears begins April 15th and continues until bear hunting season ends around mid-October. Baiting is allowed in Wisconsin 145 days before the bear hunting season begins. This means unlimited bait sites, 10 gallons per site, to total six months of junk food to condition bears each and every year. Anyone may bait bears as long as they are not fed for viewing purposes. Baiting is also used to train bear hounds beginning July 1st. Packs of up to six, usually GPS-collared hounds, are used for dog training by releasing them at bait sites. In 2016; 41 hounds were killed; mostly by wolves as hounds were released at bait sites to chase bears. Wolves also bring their three to four month-old pups to bait stations that are often near their rendezvous sites. Protective wolf parents often are forced to attack marauding hounds to protect their pups. Wisconsin is the only state which compensates hounders for hounds killed by wolves. Each hound death amounts to a $2500 payout for the hounder along with any veterinary fees for injured hounds. Wolves are often targeted with very real threats of retaliation from bear hounders for the deaths of their hounds despite the monetary compensation. Hounding bears began in Wisconsin in the 1960’s. No license is needed to hound bears in Wisconsin. No permit is needed to bait bears in Wisconsin. Michigan also hounds and baits, but in 2015 only five hounds were killed in Michigan compared to 23 in Wisconsin. An MTU study was even done to sort this disparity out. The conclusion was the number of hounding days allowed, excessive baiting days, and the generous reimbursement created the difference and likely exacerbated the conflicts between hounds and wolves.

So how does this affect me?

Baiting has already to come to your neck of the woods. You just might not be aware of it. Baiting is allowed throughout most of the state even in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Each baiter averages 437.4 gallons of donuts, frosting, pie filling, jam etc. in a season. Spread that around Wisconsin and you have a lot of bait spread over our public and many private lands. 4.6 MILLION gallons worth.

Do other animals feed at bear baiting sites?

Deer, raccoon and other animals have been documented feeding at these bait sites. Congregating wildlife increases the risk of disease transmission and human scents becomes associated with food causing wild animals to lose their natural wariness. Other concerning factors related to baiting include law enforcement receiving complaints of nuisance bears, trespassing hounds (often miles ahead of the hounders), baying hounds at night, and abandoned hounds. Mother bears often do not bring their cubs to bait sites and bear cubs may be orphaned as their mothers flee packs hounds. The bears are often running miles for several hours in the heat of summer. The mother bear may never be able to return to her cubs potentially causing the orphans to die of starvation.

Is it possible to for wildlife advocates and hunters to agree on a bear baiting resolution limiting days of baiting & number of bait sites?

Yes, there is! A resolution limiting baiters to 3 permitted sites; with baiting 30 days prior to bear hunting season was passed at the Jackson County Spring Conservation Congress hearing. 48 voted for the resolution with nine voting against. Most of the voters were hunters including some bear hunters. Jackson County is rural with a wide array of wildlife including bear, wolves, and elk. If the resolution were to be passed by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) bear committee it would then be placed on the 2018 Spring Conservation Congress ballot to be voted on. The resolution itself is not a victory, but it does serve to draw attention the impact that bear baiting is having on Wisconsin.

Does the Wisconsin Conservation Congress have the ability to make policy changes?

I have attended the Spring WCC meetings for around  20 years. I have vied for the position of a WCC delegate four times and was not elected. I have proposed two resolutions which have passed. I view this as my opportunity to represent the voiceless of Wisconsin-our wildlife. The WCC is a citizen advisory board to the DNR. They are tasked to represent Wisconsin ALL residents regarding matters of wildlife, land, air, and water. Unfortunately, the annual WCC hearings are very poorly attended by citizens other than hunters, trappers, and fisherman. Most questions voted upon are meant to enhance fishing, trapping, and hunting opportunities with WCC delegates most often representing the above listed special interest groups. A resolution voted for in the Spring Hearing will be taken under consideration by two WCC committees, the DNR, the Natural Resources Board, and finally may be subject to legislative action. When a proposal reaches the level of legislative action Wisconsin has a history of allowing undue influence from lobbyists representing but not limited to various hunting groups such as The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, the NRA, and big agriculture entities such as the Farm Bureau Federation among others. Change does not come easy.

How many states allow bear baiting?

Bear baiting is illegal in 40 states. Bears are hunted in 27 states; 17 states allow hounding, and seven states including Wisconsin allow both hounding and baiting. Michigan allows three bait sites per hunter with baiting occurring 11 to 30 days prior to the bear hunting season. Minnesota allows baiting 14 days before the hunting season at three permitted sites per bear hunter and does not allow hounding. In recent studies only 27 percent of Americans approve of hunting over bait. It is also believed baiting increases bear litter size.

So, what can I do about it?

We are at a tipping point in Wisconsin with a greater number of bears, baiters, hounds, and bear hunters on the ground than ever before. People need to tell everyone that they know what is really allowed here in Wisconsin. Talk to your local DNR wardens and legislators. You can also contact Dave MacFarland, the DNR’s carnivore specialist at 715-365-8919 regarding questions about ho Wisconsin “manages” predators.  Many residents and even hunters are unaware of the baiting situation. Perhaps when a comment is made about a bear roaming around a city or backyard let people know bears are baited for six months of the year and may be looking to keep that reliable food source coming. Maybe you will hear someone sickened by the hounds that are killed by wolves. That would be a prime opportunity to let them know the wolves side of the story. Perhaps deer hunters are lamenting over deer baiting bans. Try to make them aware that despite deer bait bans that bear hunters are still allowed to bait despite documentation that deer will appear at bear bait sites. The secret must be told…

Diane Cain is a small business owner, registered nurse, and a strong advocate for our wildlife and wild lands. Diane grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm and currently lives on a small farm of her own. 

 

Wisconsin STILL Rewarding Hounder Criminals and Scofflaws for Hound “Depredations”

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Yes, dog fighting (against wild dogs) is LEGAL in Wisconsin and worth $2500 for each dead hound. Photo used under Fair Use for Educational Purposes 

In January of 2014 Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism writer Bill Lueders published an article called “State pays scofflaws over hound deaths.” The article delved into Wisconsin’s program that pays hounders for dogs that are allegedly killed by wolves and for “vet bills” for hounds allegedly injured by wolves. Since 1987 Wisconsin hounders have been paid a total of $702,051 for hounds allegedly killed by wolves and another $34,453.99 for “vet bills” for hounds allegedly injured by wolves. In Lueders article he pointed out that a significant number of the hounders receiving payments were convicted for poaching or other wildlife and firearms violations. Some of the subjects even had their hunting “privileges” suspended while engaged in the hounding activities and STILL received the payouts.

From the article:

Wisconsin, the only state with a program that compensates the owners of dogs killed by wolves while hunting other animals, has paid tens of thousands of dollars during the past decade to individuals who have violated state hunting or firearms laws.

Seven individuals received a total of $19,000 in payments after they were convicted of crimes or paid forfeitures for hunting or firearms-related offenses, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. An additional $20,000 went to four claimants who were subsequently fined for such offenses, including bear hunting without a license.

This was from prior to the article public date of January 2014. In April of 2017, not a thing has changed. While pouring over the data for the 2016 hound “depredation” payouts some details stood out. Six of the 48 “claims” were paid to hounders from Minnesota. Five of those were to people with the same last name. Some of the names listed are also repeat claimants. The most striking thing that we were able to uncover was one hounder in particular that apparently has quite the criminal history, including open charges for bear poaching and resisting a warden, recieved $5000 from the DNR for 2016 “depredations.”

660879 7/9/2016 Hounds 1 Douglas 44 12 2 16 $0.00 DENIED WOOD MIKE AMERY WI 2016
660879 7/9/2016 Hounds 1 Douglas 44 12 2 16 $2,500.00 PAID WOOD MIKE AMERY WI 2016
660893 7/23/2016 Hounds 1 Douglas 44 12 2 8 $2,500.00 PAID WOOD MIKE AMERY WI 2016

Surprisingly one of the claims that this hounder, Mike Wood of Amery, WI, made was denied. Two others that occurred on two separate days were paid out at $2500 each. Upon digging deeper we were quite alarmed to find that a Mike Wood of Amery, WI has quite a serious criminal history. These are the most recent charges obtained from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system.

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As bad as these charges are, they pale in comparison to the charges that this subject was convicted of in 2009 in Bayfield County.

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Assuming that this is the same Mike Wood from Amery, WI, we find it quite alarming that a person convicted on THREE counts of Intentionally Mistreating Animals in 2009 and that is currently out on bond for charges of poaching a bear and resisting a warden, received $5000 in hound “depredation” payouts from the DNR in 2016. Bill Lueders raised the alarm about this in January of 2014 and over three years later Wisconsin continues to reward convicted criminals and wildlife violators for their reckless behavior. This is on top of the hounders that have received multiple payouts year after year. With the elimination in 2015 of the “Class B” bear hound training licenses Wisconsin no longer has any permit requirement for hounders. Any hounder, from anywhere in the world, can come to Wisconsin and run their hounds against wildlife under the guise of “training” and get paid $2500 for each dog that is allegedly killed by a wolf.

Have we had enough of this scam yet Wisconsin?