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Using packs of dogs to chase and hunt black bears and other wildlife is unethical and flat out wrong. Still, every year this barbaric practice allows hunters to turn loose droves of largely unsupervised hounds into northern Wisconsin. This year’s bear hounding season started earlier this month.
Although I don’t hunt myself, I can at least respect hunters who believe in conservation, a fair hunt and respect for wildlife. Hunting with hounds is absolutely none of these things. It forces lumbering bears to run for their lives, chased by packs of hounds, while hunters sit on their tailgate watching a GPS screen. What’s sportsmanlike in this?
But beyond that, hounds put people, bears and Wisconsin’s federally protected wolves in harm’s way. While thankfully it’s now illegal to hunt wolves in Wisconsin, turning hounds loose increases the chances of dangerous encounters between wolves and dogs. It’s also dangerous for the dogs, who can easily become hurt, far from help. And every year Wisconsin campers trying to enjoy the outdoors get surrounded by packs of barking hounds.
Our state is behind the curve here. Only 16 other states continue to allow hounds for black bear hunts. While Wisconsin’s leaders seem resistant to doing the right thing and putting an end to hounding, I expect more from federal officials tasked with protecting our public lands and the wildlife that live there. The U.S. Forest Service should move to end the practice in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Brian Giles, Marshfield