Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 3, 2023

Contact:

Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org

Wisconsinites Seek Hounding Ban in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Chasing Down Bears With Dogs Threatens Wolves, Public Safety

MILWAUKEE— More than 800 people from Wisconsin have signed a letter calling on the U.S. Forest Service to ban hounding in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Hounding is the practice of training and using dogs to hunt and chase down black bears and other wildlife.

Today’s letter asks that the Forest Service finally act on a legal petition for a hounding ban filed by more than 20 wildlife conservation and animal protection groups in January. Today is the last day of the season when hunters can use hounds to hunt black bears in Wisconsin.

“Given this huge public outcry against hounding, I’m hopeful that the Forest Service will do the right thing,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only cruel and unsporting, hounding also makes Wisconsin’s forests unsafe for wildlife and people. It needs to end now on our federal public lands.”

Every year hundreds of dogs are unleashed in packs to chase and harass black bears and other wildlife in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. The hounds may trail an animal for hours — sometimes over multiple days — and cover miles of off-trail terrain. Hunters use GPS to track the chase remotely from their trucks or all-terrain vehicles, often unaware of who or what the dogs encounter during their chase.

Wisconsin residents have been surrounded by hounding dogs when hiking or camping in the forest. Numerous attacks on people by hounding dogs have occurred in other national forests and parks, with some resulting in severe injuries.

An estimated 1,200 people used hounds to hunt wolves during Wisconsin’s February 2021 wolf hunt, with hunters killing more than 200 wolves in just three days. Because wolves are now federally protected, they can no longer be lawfully hunted. But violent encounters between hounds and endangered wolves occur even when hunters are targeting other wildlife like bears, bobcats or coyotes.

Until the Forest Service acts, Wisconsin’s lax state rules govern hounding on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Hunters can use hounds to chase down black bears for nearly one month each year, beginning in September. They can also train dogs by chasing wildlife other than bears nearly year-round.

“Never again should hunters be allowed to use dogs to mercilessly chase down bears on Wisconsin’s federal public lands,” said Adkins. “No ethical hunter should use packs of dogs to do their dirty work. This practice is especially unacceptable on national forests that are supposed be havens for wildlife.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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