Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Bear Hunters Call For Action On Wolf Delisting In Washington

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

March 2, 2018

Wisconsin’s premier bear hunting group is calling on our state’s Congressional delegation to support legislative efforts to remove wolves from the endangered species list.

The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) has long been a leading advocate for allowing the state to manage our population of gray wolves. “It is long past time that we allow our state Department of Natural Resources to manage the wolf population,” said WBHA President Carl Schoettel.

WBHA had successfully advocated for the creation of a wolf harvest season to manage the wolf population. That season, after only a few years, was shut down by a court’s action.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided almost a decade ago that wolves had recovered enough to be removed from the endangered species act protection. Shortly thereafter the Humane Society of the United States and others filed a legal action against USFWS, and a judge from the East Coast ordered the wolf back onto the endangered list. But USFWS continues to support delisting today, as the science has not changed.

Fortunately, there is movement in both houses of Congress to overturn the judge’s decision, return wolf management to the state, and to deny any judicial overview of that decision.

Wisconsin’s overwinter minimum population of wolves is in excess of 900, well over the management plan goal of 350. In fact during most of the year, the wolf population is closer to 2000, as wolf pups are born in early spring and wolf mortality is generally the highest in late winter.

“We applaud the efforts of Senators Johnson and Baldwin, and Congressmen Duffy and Gallagher for their efforts to move the proposals forward,” said Schoettel. “But time is running out and we need to let them and all our Wisconsin representatives know it is urgent that they act now, before the current session is adjourned.”



2018 President’s Message

Friday, January 5th, 2018

January 5, 2018

When looking at the past year in the bear and hound hunters world, we have made some progress. We have about doubled harvest tags for Bobcat, which is long overdue. This would not happen without the constant push by the WBHA and the Wisconsin Trappers Association. We got some relief from the Hunter Harassment legislation that was passed by our friends in legislature and some help from our members taking the extra step to help the state’s Department of Justice to finally build a case against these eco-terrorists. Thanks to our members and BOD the WBHA played a large role in getting legislation passed so parents now can decide when their children are ready to hunt.

The WBHA was also involved in the decision of who will replace Dave McFarland the Large Carnivore Specialist for Bear and Wolf. Let’s hope the new person will continue to work and build a good relationship with the WBHA. With the new Bear Management plan just around the corner we need to be able to help the department make good decisions for the future of our bear population so it is sustainable for many years and hunting opportunities into the future. The DNR is an important partner with the WBHA. Even though we might not always agree, we have to work together to continue the best managed bear population in the United States.

I would like to report that we have gained back all the land access that we have lost over the past few years, but I cannot. We are making progress but it has been very slow. It seems that there are a lot of different parties that are not looking at this the way the WBHA and its members do. I feel loss of motorized access to our hunting areas is the biggest threat to bear hunting today, the attitudes of the new landowners are not and never will be the way it was in the past. So we are building the necessary relationships with these landowners, which takes time. Hopefully we can convince them that we are not a financial burden to them.

There is a lot of work ahead for this organization and we cannot do this without our dedicated members and Board of Directors. We truly appreciate your continued support – without it we would not be trailing our hounds in the near future.

Thank you.

Carl Schoettel

DNR Website Clarification From Rep. Rob Stafsholt

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Dear WBHA,

My office has been contacted by several of your members with concerns on some language that appears on the DNR website pertaining to bear hunting. The current language does not state that the use of bait on our opening week of bear season with the use of dogs is permitted. I requested clarification from DNR staff and this is what I received back on this:

Thank you for the email message and the phone call!

I was able to reach Dave MacFarland, DNR Carnivore Specialist with the Bureau of Wildlife Management, to get some clarification on the use of bait and dogs during the upcoming bear season.

There have not been any changes regarding the use of bait to run dogs in the first week of the bear season. It is legal to use bait throughout the season in all zones.

In the northern zones A, B and D: From Sept. 6th – Sept. 12th hunters must use the aid of dogs, and bait may be used to locate bears on which to run dogs. From Sept 12th – Oct. 3rd all methods are legal. From Oct. 4th – Oct. 10th all methods that do not involve the use of dogs are legal. In short, the first week you have to use dogs, the last week you cannot use dogs. You can use bait throughout, but you can only use it to start your dogs the first week.

In zone C, which is the southern 2/3 of the state: The use of dogs is not permitted at any time during the season. Hunters can hunt with any method not using dogs from Sept 6 – Oct 10.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if there is anything else you need.

Thanks again!

Hopefully this information helps to clarify any questions that you may have or will receive. Please feel free to share this with your members and put it on your Facebook posts. Have a great hunting season!

Your Friend,
Representative Rob Stafsholt

Report of a Successful 2017 Convention

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Bear Hunting Magazine | May-June 2017
WBHA Vice President, Lucas Withrow

Greetings Members,

I am happy to report the 53rd annual WBHA convention was another successful event. We started the convention on Friday where our entire board of directors worked very hard to get everything and everyone just where they needed to be for the duration of the weekend. Signs hung, tables set up, puppy room arranged, lots and lots of prizes and auction items logged in and put on display, followed by final details of the convention center.

After a few hours of preview Friday, we were headed to the banquet dinner where we were joined by some very important friends from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the state legislature. I’d like to thank Kurt Thiede, Deputy Department Secretary, Dave McFarland, Large Carnivore Specialist, Todd Schaller, Chief Warden, and also State Representative Kathy Bernier (Chippewa Falls, WI). We had a nice dinner and some great conversation.

Saturday morning came early, especially for those who took full advantage of the after hours entertainment. Before the doors opened we laid out and planned an 81-item auction for the main attraction of the day. As the doors opened we were busy immediately with membership renewals increasing by roughly 26% and new member sign up increasing by 45%. The selling of many different types of raffle tickets and the collection of the annual raffle tickets; we were all very busy doing our part for our members to enjoy.

We started the annual meeting with the very, very important pledge of allegiance to show appreciation and display our love for our free country and all it stands for. We then recognized some great iron clad bear hunters, Bruce Potter and Ronnie Schneider, and presented them an award for there accomplishments. Following that were awards for Jr Big Bear Recognition, Big Bear Recognition, field trial awards, and scholarship achievement awards from the WBHA foundation.

Next we took nominations for next years WBHA leadership. Our current president, Carl Schoettel, was nominated for president next year and several others were nominated for board of director’s positions for 2018.

Around noon, newly hired WI DNR Director of Wildlife Management, Eric Lobner, gave a speech about his perceived direction for the future of the department. We would like to thank him and wish him the best accomplishments in the future. Following that were several guest introductions from our lobbyist, Bob Welch. Our guests were State Representatives Bob Kulp (Stratford, WI), Pat Snyder (Wausau, WI), Adam Jarchow (Balsam Lake, WI), and our newly-elected very own Rob Stafsholt (New Richmond, WI). All gave powerful inspirations for the future and their intentions to support the WBHA for the benefit of the state and its hunting communities.

Then we were very fortunate to be able to give thanks to our veterans in the crowd by honoring them with a couple of offerings of our gratitude for their service to our great country. Thank you veterans!!

From there we talked about the importance of our membership where I stressed:
“If you enjoy hunting and hunting with Hounds then you should be supporting the WBHA. If you care to have a part or voice in the future of hunting in this state, then I would suggest you support a organization, with at the very least a membership, because the fight for hunting land, hunting rights, and hunting with Hounds is very, very real. The WBHA is the strongest hunting affiliated organization in the state of Wisconsin, not only because the number of members we have, but also because of our fierce determination to stay involved and informed on many issues regarding many activities. You may also know that we are one of the very few hunting affiliated organizations that have a state lobbyist to help us to stay involved and informed at the legislative level. We need to strengthen our organization not only with funding but most importantly with members. The more members we have, the larger our voice. The more people that we can reach with our unified voice, the better the outcome. The future of hunting and hound hunting will rely on the people of a unified organization to stand tall, be involved, and represent one another by being committed members of this organization. One by one! Side by side! We will continue to be the driving effort to not only sustain and expand bear hunting and training in Wisconsin but to also advise others abroad to become unified and do the same. Everyone does count! This will ensure that strength of the WBHA will continue to represent our passions for our sport!”

Then followed the annual WBHA auction given by our good friends Wayne Smith and Scott Gunderson. Thank you both so much for your devoted support to the WBHA. I’d also like to once again thank our members for the support they continue to bring to our organization. I would also like to say great job and thank you to all of the dedicated board of directors who continue to not only defend our sport of bear hunting but who also give their time and effort for our organization. I wish all of you good races with your hounds and successful hunts in your future.

WBHA Vice President,
Lucas Withrow

2017 President’s Message

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

February 8, 2017

WBHA Members,

First I would like to thank all the members that made the WBHA annual spring convention a huge success. This would not happen without you and all the hard work helping sell Annual raffle tickets, plus the financial support and all the donations to the Membership and SOS Auction. Again thank you. I would also like to thank the BOD and members from the northwest, Adam Jarchow and The Welch Group and everybody else who helped pass the Hunter Harassment Bill.

The Annual meeting dates for next year will be March 24th and 25th at the Central Wisconsin Convention & Expo Center, we will have blocked a 100 rooms for Friday and Saturday at the Holiday Inn. Do not wait too long to reserve your hotel rooms.

The last thing that I want to mention is the Wolf Summit in early September somewhere in northern Wisconsin. It will consist of experts in wolf management, Legislators and citizens affected by the overpopulation wolves. There will be an expert in wolf management who will be our keynote speaker. After hearing from experts and legislators, we will hear from citizens from around the state who have had pets and livestock killed by wolves. The goal is to raise awareness about the wolf population in the Midwest and encourage the federal government to allow for state-led wolf management programs. And get these varmints delisted!! I will quote our friend Senator Tom Tiffany, “Wisconsin is not a wolf sanctuary and it is irresponsible to allow it to be treated as such”. We will keep you informed with more details as we get closer to the summit date in September.

Have a great and productive training season.

Carl Schoettel

WBHA Applauds Passage of Right-to-Hunt Bill

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

February 16, 2016 – Madison – Today the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) applauded the Wisconsin Legislature for passage of the Right to Hunt Act of 2016.

Last fall, Wisconsin hunters and trappers had run-ins with animal rights extremists which often involved harassment, interference, videotaping, and stalking-like behavior.

Under current law, it is illegal to interfere with lawful hunting, fishing and trapping. However, local law enforcement and DNR officials found enforcing the current law to be extremely difficult.

“When this bill becomes law, it will make the current hunter harassment law easier to enforce and will hopefully cut down on these dangerous encounters,” said WBHA President Al Lobner. “In addition, it will increase penalties to those engaging in this type of anti-social behavior.”

In Wisconsin, hunting is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. By interfering with hunting, fishing, and trapping, opponents are violating the rights of the people lawfully exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right.

“Hunting, fishing, and trapping are traditions in Wisconsin spanning generations,” added Lobner. “WBHA thanks the legislature for understanding the value of these traditions, and their willingness to protect them. We especially want to thank Representative Jarchow and Senator Moulton for authoring the proposal.”

This important piece of legislation now heads to the desk of Governor Walker for his signature.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp: 2014 Gun Deer Season—The rules have changed, but the tradition remains!

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

NOTE: To all of our members that deer hunt, here is a reminder of changes to the upcoming deer season from DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. You can download a PDF of the 2014 Wisconsin Bonus Antlerless Deer Permit Information for new deer zone details.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp

You talked, and we listened. Our goal in the months leading up to deer season was to bring hunters and landowners to the table, and we’ve done just that. As a result of these collaborative efforts, the rules have changed as we work to improve the experience for everyone who takes part in Wisconsin’s great hunting tradition!

With these changes, we hope to continue to grow our relationships with Wisconsin’s hunters and landowners. Below, you’ll find a few examples of how changes to deer management in Wisconsin reinforce our commitment to deer management and reflect the desire to get each of you involved.

  • County Deer Advisory Committees: To give each hunter a chance to participate in the management of Wisconsin’s deer herd, we created committees on a county-by-county basis to create plans for deer management based on your feedback. We think this change will provide a better opportunity for our hunters to play a larger role in key decisions made throughout the state. We’re through the first round of meetings and we’ve already heard some great feedback.
  • Deer Management Assistance Program: DMAP is a great tool that provides landowners with the resources they need to improve both their land and local deer herd through a great partnership with our forestry and wildlife staff.
    Simplified Deer Management Units: The old DMU system is out, and new this year is a county-based system. See the new map in the regulations booklet or on our website keyword “deer.”
  • First Time Hunters: We want to encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the outdoors and the excitement of the hunt. This year, first time hunters can purchase a license for just five dollars. First time hunters should also check out the first deer certificate; a great way to commemorate a hunter’s first successful hunt, complete with picture and details of the outing. Search “first deer” on the DNR website.
  • Public Access Lands Atlas: The PAL Atlas is a great way to find public hunting land around the state. At the PAL Atlas website, you can either download the full version or individual maps for free!

With new changes come new opportunities. I look forward to continuing our partnerships with Wisconsin’s hunters and landowners, ensuring a great experience for all.


DNR Hires New Chief Warden

Monday, November 11th, 2013

In an email sent today on behalf of DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, it was announced that the DNR has hired a new chief warden.

Good morning, DNR Partners,

I am writing to you today to tell you of a very important hiring decision we just made at the Department of Natural Resources. It gives me great pleasure to tell you the next DNR chief warden is Todd Schaller. This decision was not easy as we had excellent candidates. However, I have great confidence in the abilities and talents Todd possesses to take over this important leadership role for the DNR.

Many of you already know firsthand of Todd’s expertise and record of outstanding service to the DNR. I would like to highlight Todd’s impressive history as a conservation warden. A native of Bangor in the La Crosse area, Todd was raised by his parents to enjoy and to appreciate Wisconsin’s natural resources. He treasured hunting and fishing outings with his family. Todd earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He was hired by the DNR in 1989 and spent his first dozen years as a field warden in Racine, Trempealeau and Fond du Lac counties. It was during these years that his people skills and managerial talents became more apparent. He then served 8 years as a team supervisor for the Oshkosh Team. Four years ago, he was promoted to the position he holds today as the chief of the Recreation Enforcement and Education Section.

In the coming weeks, Todd will be working to make his transition into the chief warden position that will become effective December 17. He will be working closely with Chief Warden Randy Stark to make this a seamless transition to the bureau’s staff, to our partners and to the public. Please join me in congratulating Todd. This is a great day for the Bureau of Law Enforcement, the DNR and the state which depends upon the wardens, who truly are the DNR ambassadors in every community.

Lastly, I want to thank representatives from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission Wardens, State Capitol Police, Wisconsin ATV Association, Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bear Hunters and the Hmong American Sportsmen Club for participating in the selection process.

DNR Investigates Possible Wolf Attack In Minnesota

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The WBHA has learned of a possible wolf attack that is being investigated by the DNR. The attack took place near the shore of the West Winnie Campground on Lake Winnibigoshish in north-central Minnesota.

From the article:

The teenager survived what the DNR called an “extremely rare” attack, but a wolf with a jaw deformity was trapped and killed in the area early Monday, said Tom Provost, regional manager for the DNR’s enforcement division in Grand Rapids. Rabies test results on the animal are expected Tuesday or Wednesday, he told reporters.

For more details, please read the article here.

HRC Applauds JFC on Stewardship, Kroll Report Implementation

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

May 17, 2013 – MADISON – Today the Wisconsin’s Hunters Right Coalition (HRC) thanked members of the Joint Finance Committee for their actions regarding stewardship and implementation of the Kroll Report.

“Knowing how concerned the legislature is with state debt, Wednesday’s actions by the Joint Finance Committee will help keep stewardship on solid footing moving forward,” said Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association Vice President Carl Schoettel. “It also ensures that less stewardship money will be spent on projects that are not open for use by all taxpayers.”

The Joint Finance Committee maintained the Governor’s recommended bonding level of $32 million for land acquisitions by both the DNR and NCOs. These lands are almost always open to hunting.

Wednesday’s motion also included the provision that two-thirds of DNR land acquisitions must be done through conservation easements rather than outright purchases. HRC member organizations have long thought it a good idea for the DNR to change its focus to easements and applaud the committee for including this in the motion.

The committee also voted to reduce Governor Walker’s proposed DNR Property Development and Local Assistance Grants budgets. These funds are rarely used to purchase lands open to hunting.

Road access to stewardship lands was also addressed. Too often land has been purchased with stewardship funds without any road access for hunters. HRC is very pleased committee members addressed these concerns.

Also important to Wisconsin’s hunting community, the committee voted to adopt and fund in full the recommendations of the Kroll Report. The HRC was the driving force to bring Dr. Kroll to Wisconsin and has been vocal in its support for the Report’s recommendations.

“Dr. Kroll’s report provided the legislature with a scientific assessment of how to better hunting in Wisconsin,” added Joe Koback, Legislative Chairman for Wisconsin’s Chapters of Safari Club International. “We want to thank members of the Joint Finance Committee for adopting and funding the recommendations of this important report, including changes to deer season management policies and the creation of a DMAP.”