A Note from Our Executive Director
As I opened my computer to work on our latest e-howler, my phone rang with an urgent request for help. Another call from a concerned citizen that bear hounds were running through his property, without permission, upsetting his family, pets and of course the poor exhausted bear. So many people have no idea what is lawful and that there aren’t nearly any regulations for this so-called “sport”. I have to inform them that the DNR usually can’t do anything. Wardens have no enforcement of trespass authority, even in a poaching call! This is also extremely frustrating for our wildlife law enforcement. The people I talk to have to call their local sheriffs, who are not informed of the laws when it comes to animals, and have essentially a prayer meeting with them and go on their way. Because of this, there’s no way to track how many complaints there are, but I can tell you we get over 200 calls EACH MONTH during summer.
Lots of folks I talk to are terrified of the bear hunters, intimidated of these roaming dogs at large trained to attack and kill any wildlife they come across, and afraid of retaliation if they speak out. Wisconsin’s bear hunting season runs from September through October. However, in the months before the season opens, hunters can train their dogs from July 1 to August 31 with no license and no proof of vaccination. Yet another source of frustration for residents and tourists who hear the sounds of baying dogs at all hours of the day, often on their own property. I personally was trapped in my tent with my own dogs for over two hours at a public campground in the Blue Hills last year. Nothing was done. And according to the wardens, nothing was illegal about that.
You can learn more about this issue through a documentary we produced called “Political Predator, Dogs of War” which you can view right here:
For me personally, the idea of killing a bear for sport is stomach turning. I love bears as much as I love wolves. They are intelligent, beautiful animals who actually cause very little conflict with humans. The idea that someone would find it fun to unleash packs of dogs onto a mother bear with cubs in the dead heat of summer while they are trying to learn and navigate a human world is cruelty, and I’ll wager that you probably agree with me.
Wisconsin bear hunting is extremely popular and more people apply each year than the number of licenses available. Last year, over 129,000 hunters applied for a permit or a preference point for 11,530 available permits. About 89% of hunters kill bears over bait and hounds, 98% with the aid of bait alone. That bait — over an estimated 15 million gallons — is dumped all over our public lands endangering all wildlife and changing bears on a molecular level. This bait ranges anywhere from imitation chocolate, to fry grease, to gummy bears, doughnuts and twinkies. Learn more about the bear bait issue here.
Is that sporting? Minnesota doesn’t allow for hounding with dogs and has an equal kill rate for black bears. Michigan allows a very short hound and bait season of only two weeks.
Bear hunters also force us, the taxpayers, to pay for their deadly sport if their dogs are killed by wolves. And these fatalities are used by unscrupulous lawmakers to get the public to think they kill family pets, when in fact, that rarely ever happens. Imagine if I took my dogs for a walk off leash on Interstate 90-94 and they got hit by a truck. Would you think reimbursing me with your money through the Department of Transportation would be appropriate? Why are taxpayers forced to reimburse reckless legal animal fighters while they practice their “sport”? You can read more about this in a guest blog by Paul Collins here:
This is one of many wildlife issues we see in this state where the public voice continues to be ignored, but we can STOP this practice. Currently, we are working on legislation for this fall to help end bear baiting and hounding in Wisconsin. We will be holding a Wildlife Day, where you can voice concerns to your lawmakers that black bears and Wisconsin state wildlife belong to us all.
Your support is vital to funding our mission and helping bears like those you see here. At the time of this post, our Matching Gift Campaign is just $2,433 away from meeting our $5000 goal. Please consider making a gift today to help us stop hounding.
After a recent devastating blow from the Supreme Court, we want to recognize that women make up almost all of our organization’s volunteers, board and staff. The Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance wants to dedicate this issue to you. For many, this is a difficult time. Thank you all for your dedicated hours, passion and voices you have given to the voiceless. We respect you and believe in your reproductive rights. We support the rights of all women and believe you are to be respected, valued and supported. We will always believe in and practice gender equality. And wildlife management sorely needs more women in leadership roles. Environmental justice, which is our primary focus, is also social justice and you are crucial in our work. Thank you!
Volunteer of the Month
I’ve loved animals as long as I can remember. When I was a college student, I became aware of the many challenges faced by charismatic African wildlife (trophy hunting, poaching, and habitat loss) and the need to protect these species and their habitat before it was too late. My aptitude leaned to policy more than to science, so after graduating with a degree in political science, I went on to study forest policy and wrote my thesis on federal public lands and the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, but always had the intention of working more directly on wildlife conservation.
Early in my career, I was thrilled to fill a policy position with the Washington Department of Natural Resources that allowed me to think creatively about how to protect forested habitat for salmon and other wildlife. In my spare time, I served for several years on the board of Wolf Haven International in Tenino, Washington, an organization providing sanctuary for rescued captive-born wolves and advocacy for wolf conservation. This was just as wolves were being reintroduced into Idaho and Montana after a long absence.
Having learned a lot about how wildlife is managed by state wildlife departments and commissions (i.e., generally for hunters and ranchers) I determined that conservationists would always be on the defensive unless they could pressure state and federal governments to put wildlife first. There is now a coordinated national effort to do just that that I am pleased to be a part of.
I also have a deep interest in protecting and connecting large-scale habitat to ensure the long-term resilience of complete predator-prey ecosystems. I became aware of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf through Facebook and greatly admire how this group is working on the front lines of wolf conservation in Wisconsin, which has one of the few remnant wolf populations in the Lower 48 states. The war on wildlife, especially carnivores, is relentless and it falls to groups like Friends to hold the line on conservation gains, to educate, and to lobby for the protection and recovery of wolves.
Without their work, there would be no organized presence to advocate for wolf protection in Wisconsin. Now retired, I’m pleased to donate what I can to support their efforts and wish I could donate more because they deserve all the support they can get. ~ Carole Beverly, Olympia, Washington
Our next Fireside Chat is happening this Thursday, July 7th at 6:00 pm CST!
We hope you can join us for a Special Guest Speaker on Wildlife for All and why state litigation is so important. Please feel free to bring any questions or comments you may want to share!
Also, be sure to SAVE THE DATE for our second monthly Fireside Chat scheduled for July 21st. We will be covering Minnesota and Michigan’s Wolf Management plan review with special guests Nancy Warren and Collette Adkins.
Meeting ID: 966 2471 6122
One tap mobile: +19292056099,,96624716122#,,,,*854398# US (New York)
+13017158592,,96624716122#,,,,*854398# US (Washington DC)
Informational Webinar: Minnesota DNR Draft Wolf Plan
Anyone interested in learning more about the Minnesota DNR’s draft wolf plan update is invited to an informational webinar at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 13. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and comment. The webinar is free but registration is required.
The DNR welcomes comments on the draft plan through 4:30 p.m. Monday, August 8th. The DNR expects to finalize the wolf plan later this year. To learn more about wolves in Minnesota, review the draft plan and register for the webinar, visit the DNR’s wolf page.