Criminal Harassment

Complaint: Wisconsin Bear Hunters ‘Criminally Harassing’ Wolves

Criminal harassment of WI endangered wolves
Photo: Gary Kramer / USFWS

Environmental Group PEER Claims Wisconsin DNR Subsidizing Activities Outlawed By Endangered Species Act

A complaint has been filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alleging Wisconsin bear hunters are “criminally harassing gray wolves” and that the state Department of Natural Resources is subsidizing the crimes.

Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER) — based in Washington, D.C. — is urging criminal investigations into 22 Wisconsin bear hunters who received payments from the DNR for dogs killed by wolves last year. The group claims the payments, known in Wisconsin as wolf depredation payments, are evidence hunters harassed wolves.

“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.”

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.

“You’re looking at a state that’s paying nearly $100,000 on an annual basis to people that are willfully committing violations of an Endangered Species Act in support for a hobby that many hunters see as unsportsmanlike,” Carlesco said.

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