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President's Message - Sept. 2023

The Wisconsin bear season has wrapped up, and of course there are issues that will need a lot of attention from the WBHA. The DNR is trying to sell the idea that wolves should not be managed to the agreed number of 350 wolves. 350 was the goalpost set by the Wisconsin DNR and now they want to increase it again. Just remember that the original number when wolves were introduced to Wisconsin was 85. Part of the problem is the habitat has expanded south to a range that has increased by one third, which brings us to two thirds of the state. The DNR’s wolf range numbers were put out without discussion with the WBHA. I can only assume that there were other stake holders or individuals that the range was discussed with but WBHA was conveniently kept out. The WBHA sits on two committees: the “Wolf Harvest Committee” and the “Wolf Policy Committee”. You would think that we would have been asked for our input? As a result, we are not supporting the DNR’s planned range. We will keep you posted as this moves forward.

The next issue is a big one. We were emailed the DNR’s harvest totals as of September 26th and they are reporting that the harvest at this time is at a 10+ year low, with the worst being Zone D which has a quota of 1800 bears and have only killed 480 as of September 26th. That is 27% of the quota with just 2 weeks to go. We know that they are not going to meet their goal. What this means is they are selling more tags for bears that do not exist. To set the record, the WBHA has been consistent. The harvest has been too high since the current bear plan was released around 3 years ago. There has been a steady decline in bear harvest for 3 years, but the DNR has been persistent to appease a handful of farmers in Rusk and Sawyer County to kill more bears and the constant call to hunters that want to have more kill tags issued. Kinda sounds like deer management in the northeastern part of the state. You will hear the usual excuse that there was an abundance of natural food this year that would impact baits being hit. Don’t be fooled!

The last thing we need to cover is the Center for Biological Diversity has come up with 416 Wisconsin signatures to ban training and hunting with hounds for bear in the Nicolet-Chequamegon National Forest. Of course, all other forms of hunting and use are okay for now until they decide to get rid of deer hunting, bird hunting, camping, berry picking, and riding electric bikes! What these people don’t realize is after they are done with bear hunting, they will come after them. We need to unite all hunters as one force and build a bigger army, and that will start now. We are working on the solutions to these 3 issues as I write this letter and will keep you posted and how WBHA members can help.

Thank you.
Carl Schoettel
WBHA President