Sunday, August 25, 2019

More off-leash bear-chasing hounds killed by wolves. Hounders get fat WI reimbursements.

[Updated] In Wisconsin, a hunting dog can be the owner's best friend, or a free $2,500 state check if the dog is sent to a violent death while chasing bears through wolf territory.

A state-issued license to run hounds against bears as training for e hunt is no longer required, so the hounders during a two-month summer training period can release their dogs at will.

The Wisconsin DNR has reported the 13th and 14th hound deaths by wolves during the legal, July-August bear hunt training season. This is the period during which owners release hounds off-leash and may apply to the state for a $2,500 reimbursement per dog killed by wolves which den and rendezvous where some hounders insist on running their dogs.

The actual bear-hunting season takes place from September 4-October 8;  something above 3,500 bears will be killed by around 13,000 licensed hunters out of roughly 125,000 license applicants.

It's worth noting that what the DNR's bear plan is regulating - - here is its recently updated plan - - is wildlife which belongs to all the people of the state and not to any group or portion of the population.

Yet hounders are legally permitted to release their packs of dogs to harass and tree bears, along with the wolves which are biologically-equipped to fight back.

One of the hounds in the latest DNR report on dog-wolf encounters Friday was a Redtick, similar to this one:

English Coonhound.jpg

I track this only-in-Wisconsin payment program, and wrote a few days ago - - as I have often over the last few years - - that the number of dogs lost in this state-sanctioned animal cruelty in total exceeds 350, at a cost in public funds sure to pass the $800,000 mark this year.

That’s a lot of money which could be spent on public purposes. Could these northern counties, towns, and villages use these thousands of dollars instead for their local parks, fisheries, roads, schools, law enforcement, home care workers, and so on?

Payments to the hounders may be obtained by scofflaws, repeat claimants and careless handlers who release their dogs in or near known wolf pack territory, or bear baiting deposits which can also attract wolves.

The DNR posts warnings and maps, but some hounders obviously ignore them.

08/14/2019Burnett1 Hunting dog killed (Bluetick/Walker mix, 8-year old male)Burnett depredation siteBurnett depredation location map [PDF]

As I wrote in 2016 - - and regrettably only the numbers change:
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources records show that 28 bear hounds have died in this gruesome fashion this year, and a stunning 25 of these hounds have been killed just this month.
The reimbursement program was created by the Legislature in 1985 and is backed by powerful hunting lobbies, and the relationship between the payments and the dog death toll has been noted over the years
A recent study found that Wisconsin has a higher dog casualty rate than Michigan, which also allows their use in bear hunts. The lead author, a Michigan Tech wildlife ecologist, speculated that Wisconsin’s compensation program creates "an incentive for abuse" — that is, hunters who deliberately put their dogs at great risk.
Note also this 2015 blog post on many of the same issues: 

Enabled by a powerful lobby, the State of Wisconsin has eased some bear hunting rules to facilitate another seasonal "harvest" kill in the thousands.bear
Scroll down to the Wisconsin DNR's explanation:
The past six seasons have ranked as the top six bear harvests in Wisconsin history, and this trend is likely to continue with a record number of permits made available in 2015 (10,690). Wisconsin consistently ranks as one of the top bear harvest states in the country...
Bear hunters should be aware of a few important changes to bear hunting regulations in 2015. State law was recently changed to eliminate the Class B bear license; a Class B license is no longer required to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist hunters with pursuing bears (provided that a person does not shoot, shoot at, capture, take or kill the bear unless acting as a back-up shooter). Any individual may now participate in bear hunting and training activities without a Class B bear license any time those activities are permitted and in compliance with applicable regulations...
In 2014, hunters harvested 4,526 bears - the third highest harvest in state history...
Gun hunters harvested 3,776 bears in 2014, while bow hunters accounted for 695 bears. A majority of bears were harvested using bait (3,395), but the use of both dogs and bait (995) and neither dogs nor bait (69) was also successful. 
Various DNR webpages reference the "thrill" of bear hunting or its "quality experience," and the agency's large carnivore expert told the Wisconsin Bear Hunter's Association in a pre-hunting season missive that the state provides a "high quality bear hunting experience."
Speaking of bear hunting and dogs, another DNR webpage discloses that in the last few weeks, nine dogs training against bears have been killed by wolves... 
For three years earlier in the decade, wolves were removed from federal protection and hundreds were killed in Wisconsin, principally through heads shots delivered to trapped animals in a hunting season which allowed the use of dogs in the seasons' last few days.

That bloodshed was stopped by a federal judge because states like Wisconsin were 'managing' the hunts with lax and ineffective 'regulation,' as I wrote in December, 2014:
Despite the obvious, WI DNR lets hounders kill out-of-quota wolves
The carcasses of eight wolves shot and killed last week in Wisconsin - - six of which were chased down by packs of hunting dogs, records show - - could have been figuratively deposited at the doorstep of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources because the agency treated them as disposable, special-interest trophies.... 
As the 2014 Wisconsin wolf hunting season approached its DNR-established quota of 150 kills last month, it became clear that permissible delays in kill-reporting could push the total above 150 quota - - unless the agency moved pre-emptively to close the season...and data received...from the DNR through an Open Records request lets you plot how that overkill to 154 from 150 took place, with six of the final eight wolf killings occurring with the "aid of dogs" - - an only-in-Wisconsin practice.
Northern WI GOP GOP Rep. Sean Duffy is promoting fresh removal of federal wolf protection.

This is the sparse method through which the DNR reports these hound deaths on a web page:
08/22/2019Marinette1 Hunting dog killed (Plott, 5-year old male)Marinette depredation siteMarinette depredation location map [PDF]
08/23/2019Price1 Hunting dog killed (Red Tick, 6-year old male)Price depredation sitePrice depredation location map [PDF]

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