The anti-hunting group, Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER), filed a complaint with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in an attempt to get them to open an investigation into 22
Wisconsin bear hunters for “Criminally Harassing Gray Wolves.” The hunters in question received payments from Department of Natural Recourses for hunting dogs that were killed by wolves. The group claims that the death of the dogs is proof that they were harassing wolves.
According to Wisconsin Public Radio, depredation payments have been made since 1985 whenever wolves have killed livestock, pets and hunting dogs in Wisconsin. In 2016, a record 41 hunting
dogs were killed and $99,400 in payments went to hunters.
“Wisconsin encourages hunting practices that seem calculated to cause fatal conflicts with wolves,” said PEER staff attorney Adam Carlesco. “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.”
Carlesco said PEER would like to see Wisconsin’s wolf depredation policy regarding hunting dogs revised and more restrictions placed on using dogs for hunting in areas known to have wolves.
Wisconsin DNR big game ecologist Dave MacFarland said wolves have been in Wisconsin for 30 years and bear hunters have been using hounds the whole time, “and the Fish and Wildlife Service has not raised concerns with the state of Wisconsin over that practice, and we’re not aware of them raising concerns with other states either.”
A 1999 DNR wolf management plan set a goal of 350 wolves in the state. Currently the state has well over 900 wolves.
In a statement, Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association Vice President and spokesman Luke Withrow dismissed the complaint filed by PEER.
PEER appears to be yet another out of state fringe organization whose long term goal is to destroy Wisconsin’s hunting heritage.
They clearly have no concept of how bear are hunted in Wisconsin, as their claims of harm to the wolf population are laughable.
Wisconsin bear hunters have been using hounds in our hunts for the entire time since wolves were reintroduced into the state and the recovery of the species has occurred while this activity has gone on. If there were harm being done, the wolf would not have fully recovered to the point where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the state DNR, have concluded that the wolf is eligible to be removed from the endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t commented on PEER’s request to investigate the Wisconsin bear hunters who were paid for dogs killed by wolves other than to say it has received the
Hopefully the wolves will be removed from the endangered species list and returned to state management where they belong.
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