Wisconsin Bear Hunters Support Ethical Training, Condemn Recent Videos

January 4th, 2019

January 4, 2019


The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) is proud to be a part of Wisconsin’s long sporting heritage. While hunting and training with hounds, our members exhibit the strong ethical standards that Wisconsin hunters are known for.

It is disappointing to see the recent cases in Florida and Wisconsin where a small group of hound owners did not abide by any reasonable ethical standards, nor have any regard for following state game laws. We were shocked to see the videos showing the misuse of hounds and the abuse of black bears.

These types of incidents are not a representation of hound hunting or hound training but rather an example of non-ethical and illegal acts. Those hound owners are being prosecuted and we agree that they should be held accountable for their illegal and immoral actions. There is no excuse for these actions – this is not hunting nor ethical hound training.

We renew our call that all hunters and dog owners practice ethical hunting and training as outlined by our association’s long standing best practices standards. And of course, hunters should follow all laws regarding hunting and training dogs in any state or country.

Excluding the above referenced events, we also understand, and respectfully request understanding from the public, that not all videos or pictures provide a context or exact representation of the situation and should not automatically incriminate those depicted. But again, we advocate for due process and full prosecution of those found to be guilty of violations.

Bear Hunters Call For Action On Wolf Delisting In Washington

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

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’s Wolf Population Monitoring

September 29th, 2017

WBHA Members,

If any of you are interested in getting more involved with the DNR’s wolf population monitoring program, consider attending one of their track training courses. The link below has been updated with classes occurring in the coming months.

DNR Website Clarification From Rep. Rob Stafsholt

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

New Wolf Bills From Duffy, Johnson-Baldwin

June 20th, 2017

January 19, 2017 – MADISON –

Representative Duffy and Senators Johnson and Baldwin have announced bi-partisan legislation to return the management of gray wolves to state control. The following is a statement from WBHA President, Carl Schoettel:

“We applaud Representative Duffy, Senator Johnson, and Senator Baldwin for the reintroduction of this important legislation. Every day Wisconsinites witness the consequences of an irresponsible decision from an out of touch Federal Judge. Wolves in Wisconsin need to be managed, just like all of our other wildlife. The State of Wisconsin has an excellent track record of managing wolves. Congress needs to act quickly to return to science-based wolf policy.”

Text of the Bill
Rep. Duffy’s Press Release
Sen. Johnson’s Press Release

Wisconsin Bear Hunters Donate To Chetek Tornado Damage Clean-Up Effort

June 6th, 2017

June 6th, 2017

On June 6th, members of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBHA) presented the Chetek area Salvation Army with a $5000 check to help with tornado damage clean-up in the area.

“This is an area of the state that our members are very familiar with. We were extremely saddened to hear of the damage and loss of life caused by last month’s tornado in Barron County,” said WBHA Foundation President Stephanie Hanson.

The funds, raised through WBHA’s Foundation, were presented to the Salvation Army’s Duana Bremer at a small ceremony held at Prairie Lake Estates. “Thank you for the support from the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association,” stated Bremer. “These funds will go directly to help victims of the tornado who were residing in the trailer park. We thank you very very much.”

“We have heard nothing but the best regarding the Salvation Army’s response,” said WBHA Board Member Eric Tuckner. “We are proud to present them with this modest donation to help with efforts in this region.”

In attendance was Representative Romaine Quinn, adding, “Wisconsin Bear Hunters are not only dedicated outdoor enthusiasts, but are also a group of men and women who care deeply for their communities. We are extremely thankful for their generosity during this great time of need.”

Report of a Successful 2017 Convention

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

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

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.