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Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Thinblueline » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:44 pm

On another thread, a gent brought up the use of an e-collar, if for nothing else to break a dog from chasing deer or tangling with something, like a porcupine, that can mess him up good. Like everyone else, I am attached to my four legged friend, and the thought of him getting badly hurt or killed in the woods or fields almost makes me ill. I realize there are some inherent risks anytime you turn a dog loose in our hunting environments, but I hunt in the dense northern forests of Wisconsin, where the wolf population is three times higher than the DNR's original goals, and now dozens of dogs (granted, mostly bear hounds), are getting killed every year. In addition to the wolves, there is the threat of Conibear traps. I checked these out at our local Mills Fleet Farm, and goodness sakes, even after gaining an understanding of how the trap works, I can't imagine being able to free my dog before it's death...if I even get to it in enough time to try. Of course there's those dang porcupines, which it seems everyone up here has had their dog run into, or knows someone who has had their dog run into one of those cursed things. What a horribly painful thing for a dog to go through, especially if he gets a quill in the eye, which would undoubtedly be a lost eye.

I guess I'm struggling with the risk/reward aspect of hunting this dog in the north woods, and whether or not my fears are rational or irrational. I guess I simply don't know what the odds are of these things happening to my dog. If someone could put realistic numbers to the chances of my dog dying by wolf attack or conibear trap, such as they can do concerning my chances at winning the lottery, maybe that would make me a feel a little better. The alternative is to hunt him only on state grounds for the state reared pheasants, outside of wolf country, with an annual trip to the Dakotas, and leave the grouse population alone. What do you folks think? Just being paranoid? Incidentally, I have a friend who has already cut 90 percent of his grouse hunting due to the wolf threat alone.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby art hubbard » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:15 pm

I hunt grouse here in the forests of Idaho. Not to concerned about wolves although they have just about wiped out our elk. The wolves are attracted to hounds because when they tree a bear they bark until their owners can get to them, the wolves are very territorial and will chase out the dogs or kill them if given the chance. Since our bird dogs are silent and nearby not much chance of any wolf problem. Porcupines, I can break a dog of messing around with them. Traps, no problem here during bird season.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby tekoa » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:42 pm

There is another, older, thread on this forum entitled 'Wolves in Forest Grouse Country' with lots of conversation on this topic.

My own experience with Wolves and dogs is that, if you have dogs that hunt close, always in sight, you probably will never see a Wolf, even though they are probably near by. I have Setters which are rarely in sight and cover a lot of ground at fairly high speed. These guys have encountered Wolves ( loners I think) frequently on our Grouse hunts, especially if there are elk herds in the area.

I have gone back a couple of times with guys who use flushing dogs and have not encountered any dangerous critters. Thinking that I was overreacting, I took my Setters back to the same area this year and had three wolves follow my dog back to me after being out about 200 yards in thick cover. I think they were on a deer kill and my dogs went to investigate the scent. I had to fire off a couple of rounds to turn the Wolves back.

My dogs know Cougar and Griz scent and are afraid of both so I don't worry about them. But Wolves are starting to scare me..........

I have trained my dogs to whoa on a tone from their e-collar which only helps if I can see what they're up to. This has worked with snakes and porkies in open country, but this only works if you can see them.

The local hunting guides in this area have their clients avoid hunting areas where the Elk herds are, and have never seen any Wolves. This probably doesn't help you in the Wisconsin woods since you don't have extensive Elk populations. And, since Grouse are frequently found in same habitat as deer, the Wolves are probably widely scattered.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Tooling » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:53 am

Thinblueline wrote:I guess I'm struggling with the risk/reward aspect of hunting this dog


The risks are there but don't let it stop you. The fact that you're recognizing the dangers is a good thing - allow them to be healthy fears instead of ones that immobilize you or interfere with time in the field with your dog.

Educate yourself to the extent that you are prepared should a situation arise. Put the odds in yours and the dogs favor. For example, don't just look at one (Conibear)..buy one and make yourself expert on functionality, they're cheap. Carry some heavy duty zip-ties in your possibles kit that you carry afield to disable them. Study the area's you're planning to hunt and do your best to avoid reckless situations around ice etc. Know your dog, assure a solid recall, whoa is a wonderful command, etc, etc..

Don't stand down and deprive yourself or your dog from hunting together.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby NEhomer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:16 am

I live in MA and as an ardent outdoors man, I used to trap until the libs outlawed it here in '96. So I am anything but anti-trapper BUT all conibear traps should be underwater or elevated above where a dog can reach. Foothold traps are perfectly capable of catching fox, coyote, bobcat, wolf and lynx and dogs may be released from them.

Placing a baited cubby on the ground guarded by a kill trap is simply unethical and ought to be illegal. I cannot imagine my level of rage if my setter was killed in one.

I'm very lucky that my dog ignores porkys and skunks and all we have around here is the rare eastern timber rattler which we never even see.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Tooling » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:39 am

NEhomer wrote:I live in MA and as an ardent outdoors man, I used to trap until the libs outlawed it here in '96. So I am anything but anti-trapper BUT all conibear traps should be underwater or elevated above where a dog can reach. Foothold traps are perfectly capable of catching fox, coyote, bobcat, wolf and lynx and dogs may be released from them.

Placing a baited cubby on the ground guarded by a kill trap is simply unethical and ought to be illegal. I cannot imagine my level of rage if my setter was killed in one.

I'm very lucky that my dog ignores porkys and skunks and all we have around here is the rare eastern timber rattler which we never even see.


Good post and good point..your keyword = "should be" (off the ground).

The lesson? Remain aware of your surroundings at all times and do the best you can to recognize dangers. If you see a bucket laying on its side in a hedgerow, turn the dog away from that direction and keep the dog close for the remainder of the hunt while you keep your eyes peeled.

I had a scare on ice one time - we were on solid ice once and the temps had been down for a good while so I felt secure so long as the dog was relatively close. Dog was only about 30-40 yards ahead of me and picked up scent in some cat-tails. As he slipped out of sight going around the edge of the cattails I heard some crumbling. Ran in as fast as I could, Pheasants went flying and I spotted the party balloon, (the foil type), that had lost its helium and was laying there for my dog to step on as he explored the scent he had picked up. Scared the begeezus out of me!
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby HUNTS » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:01 am

By yourself a conibear and practice release. Use a teddy bear or something. Gain confidence.

I run a flushing dog that works in close. I could never get any of my setters to stay close enough in the thick woods.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby NEhomer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:04 am

A 330 Conibear is nasty....how much time do you have? I can free one with a short length of rope pretty quickly but if it takes any amount of time to discover the dog, I can't see them surviving.

It just shouldn't happen.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Sharon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 3:02 pm

Whenever we let our dog off the leash, a multitude of bad things can happen. That's part of hunting.
Here in SW ON all I have to really worry about are coyotes- or so I thought.
Had a deer attack my dog - must have been a fawn nearby- $1300. later she was fine.
A friend had his dog- fine sire to be- killed on an obsolete country road.
That's just part of hunting.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Mountaineer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:23 pm

To answer the question...yes, moderately irrational re traps.
Porkies can be trained for and wolves during the Fall in most areas are not an issue.....easy to hate tho, eh?
Naturally, anecdotes tend to color the norm as a fit for everyone....too bad that.

However, in no way are traps part of hunting.
As there is a wide difference twixt legal Trapping and hobby trapping by deer hunters in order to kill coyotes impacting their deer, where the legality of the traps, placement or method may be involved.
Not to mention snares costing pennies.
When trapping becomes less than it's best or most professional, it's "part" is simple selfishness or illustrates uncaring for worst case and no-do overs.
I would only slightly brush upon kill baits by deer hunters like sponges and poison.
When all that last and beyond the respected profession of Trapping actually becomes an accepted part of hunting then .....the self-focused individuals have won.

In some areas of this country, like OH, where deer is king and queen......a dog is often a target...any dog...any dog at all.
Traps or wolves or porkies are nothing to fear compared to Man.
OH just had a deer bowhunter who killed a couple of dogs prosecuted under Goddard's Law.
To think he is unique is to not know Ohio.
And, this fella kept dog collars as trophies.....affecting deer hunting claims are really just an excuse for his kind......*(and he said he was bored that day).

Oh, and yes, I had a setter get into a coyote slow-kill bait on Pennsylvania state gamelands.....took 5 incisions in the guts to remove it all.
Tough on an older dog.
Deer hunters are bad juju on many fronts...more and more....more...and...more.
One would think the excusists would be getting tired defending their bad actions...after all, it more than a bit colors the good deer hunters out and about.
Policing one's own......sadly, not a very popular concept with "hunters" (small h).
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby bustingcover » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:46 am

They're real fears but nothing you can really do about it other than keep a first aid kit handy for the field and familiarize yourself with how to realease your dogs from traps. Anything can happen when you let a dog off leash it could just as easily cross a street and get hit by a car can't let that stop you from running your dog that's why they're here.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:09 pm

You are correct to be concerned but you should be proactive not afraid. The wolves are the only real concern and are getting worse by the year. I carry a 45 on my side and I can use it. I hunt my dogs silently with an Astro; no bells or beepers. It's my belief that much like a baying hound, a bell or beeper may actually toll a wolf in. Stay out of denning country and hunt silently.

Connies aren't a real issue. They have to be elevated, in a bucket, or under water. Not really worth worrying about but I would watch films on dog release from them. I DO carry a 6' length in my vest and long electrical ties.

Break them off porkies and deer the same way you do snake breaking a dog.

Trash break the dog, hunt with an Astro, learn about traps. Thats all you can really do.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Grange » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:53 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:
Connies aren't a real issue. They have to be elevated, in a bucket, or under water. Not really worth worrying about but I would watch films on dog release from them. I DO carry a 6' length in my vest and long electrical ties.



That's not true in WI. 160's don't need to be enclosed and can be put on dry land. They are big enough to kill a dog as my father almost found out about 10 years ago with his brittany. His dog was out cold when he found it in a 160 trap. He got the dog out before it died and when the warden checked the trap it was a legal set. I've found legally set and illegally 220's while bird hunting and I bet either one could kill a dog it it were to investigate the trap and it wasn't set off. I know of at least on brittany that died in a conibear trap by our cottage during the hunting season.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Mountaineer » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:12 pm

It must be comforting to believe that all traps, conibear or other, are always set according to legal Hoyle......can't figger out any other reason to make that assumption.
Well, I reckon I can.

Just be careful and understand that our dogs rely on us to make the correct assumptions....made with them first in mind.
Too often, it is a wide and very odd world of loons out there.
And getting more so every day in too many areas. :idea:
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Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Shellottome » Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:14 pm

Hunt more than one dog. Use gps collars. Carry slugs and kill the enemy. Know the enemy comes in many sizes. The local neighborhood raccoon can drown your dog with ease. To quit hunting all together....Ridiculous!!


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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:30 am

Grange wrote:
gonehuntin' wrote:
Connies aren't a real issue. They have to be elevated, in a bucket, or under water. Not really worth worrying about but I would watch films on dog release from them. I DO carry a 6' length in my vest and long electrical ties.



That's not true in WI. 160's don't need to be enclosed and can be put on dry land. They are big enough to kill a dog as my father almost found out about 10 years ago with his brittany. His dog was out cold when he found it in a 160 trap. He got the dog out before it died and when the warden checked the trap it was a legal set. I've found legally set and illegally 220's while bird hunting and I bet either one could kill a dog it it were to investigate the trap and it wasn't set off. I know of at least on brittany that died in a conibear trap by our cottage during the hunting season.


It is POSSIBLE to lose a dog in a 160, just highly unlikely. With most hunting dogs the jaw spread is such that it slams on their nose, not neck, which they can pull out of. Not much you can do about criminal's which is why I CARRY ROPE AND ZIP TIES. I hunt the North and I know you do too. In 30 odd years I have never rub into a Connibear in the north woods. Connibears were designed for the water trapper and with the exception of coon and Fischer, simply are not an effective upland trap. They are cumbersome to carry and set so you will rarely see one far from a road. To catch a fox, coyote or wolf in one is nearly impossible so they simply aren't used for large predator control. For every Connie set in the WOODS there are over 1000 leg holds set. As I said above, you should know how to release a dog but chances of one EVER getting caught are infinitesimal. Where is the greatest chance og encountering a Connie? Around cabins and homes. I don't hunt near any cabins and homes.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby DonF » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:30 am

My wife had a dog caught in a foot hold years ago. She couldn't undo it and had to go to town and get someone that could. When I got home I went out and took it out of the ground, had to cut the chain with bolt cutter's, government trap. No sign's posted anywhere. Call the gov office and they sent the trapper over to get the trap. He told us that foot holds don't hurt, shoot, he said if his three year old was here he'd put her hand in it! Also told me I should be glad it wasn't a poison trap, the dog would be dead. But he doesn't put them out unless snow get's to where it stops the traps from working. No snow and a week later we were going out to run the dog's and found a poison bait sign out of the way on an unused gate. Turned around and went home. Called his boss again and he was going to talk to his trapper. Nothing ever came of it. I don't turn dogs loose on land I know traps are on or if wolves were sighted in the area. I can watch my dog's work birds and even shoot them if I want by taking my own bird's out to a safe area! Imagine if you can, what must be going though the dog's mind while waiting on you.

I like wolves but don't think they should have replanted them where they might intermingle with civilization. There's a reason they were shot out. And I'm also against trapping. One dog caught in one changed my mind completely.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Tooling » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:16 am

Dog ended up in a foothold while hunting PA two seasons back. No damage but for a scared dog who let me know something was wrong and the end of a hunt considering traps were about, thankfully.

Fortunately I haven’t come across any Conibear traps. I am concerned in some of the local areas. We pursue Woodcock in marshy areas near the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. As described in this thread, Conibears are legal in water. I would like to think that the sets would be marked somehow, just a pc of construction tape on a close-by tree or a stake driven into the marsh where the traps are set would work. I don’t believe it is a requirement here in MD (could be wrong) but in other areas of the country, is marking the location of your traps so others can see that they are there a requirement?
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:33 pm

Tooling wrote:Dog ended up in a foothold while hunting PA two seasons back. No damage but for a scared dog who let me know something was wrong and the end of a hunt considering traps were about, thankfully.

Fortunately I haven’t come across any Conibear traps. I am concerned in some of the local areas. We pursue Woodcock in marshy areas near the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. As described in this thread, Conibears are legal in water. I would like to think that the sets would be marked somehow, just a pc of construction tape on a close-by tree or a stake driven into the marsh where the traps are set would work. I don’t believe it is a requirement here in MD (could be wrong) but in other areas of the country, is marking the location of your traps so others can see that they are there a requirement?


Nobody marks them or they'd be stolen. First thing to do if a dog does get in a Connie is to turn the trap sideways, if needed and get it off the dog's wind pipe. Some are set vertically, some horizontally.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Tooling » Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:08 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:
Tooling wrote:Dog ended up in a foothold while hunting PA two seasons back. No damage but for a scared dog who let me know something was wrong and the end of a hunt considering traps were about, thankfully.

Fortunately I haven’t come across any Conibear traps. I am concerned in some of the local areas. We pursue Woodcock in marshy areas near the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. As described in this thread, Conibears are legal in water. I would like to think that the sets would be marked somehow, just a pc of construction tape on a close-by tree or a stake driven into the marsh where the traps are set would work. I don’t believe it is a requirement here in MD (could be wrong) but in other areas of the country, is marking the location of your traps so others can see that they are there a requirement?


Nobody marks them or they'd be stolen. First thing to do if a dog does get in a Connie is to turn the trap sideways, if needed and get it off the dog's wind pipe. Some are set vertically, some horizontally.


Yes, of course. I suppose I was blinded by my own agenda and failed to consider the legitimate trappers circumstances. Guess it's best to just remain diligent and be as prepared as possible at all times.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Grange » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:44 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:
Grange wrote:
gonehuntin' wrote:
Connies aren't a real issue. They have to be elevated, in a bucket, or under water. Not really worth worrying about but I would watch films on dog release from them. I DO carry a 6' length in my vest and long electrical ties.



That's not true in WI. 160's don't need to be enclosed and can be put on dry land. They are big enough to kill a dog as my father almost found out about 10 years ago with his brittany. His dog was out cold when he found it in a 160 trap. He got the dog out before it died and when the warden checked the trap it was a legal set. I've found legally set and illegally 220's while bird hunting and I bet either one could kill a dog it it were to investigate the trap and it wasn't set off. I know of at least on brittany that died in a conibear trap by our cottage during the hunting season.


It is POSSIBLE to lose a dog in a 160, just highly unlikely. With most hunting dogs the jaw spread is such that it slams on their nose, not neck, which they can pull out of. Not much you can do about criminal's which is why I CARRY ROPE AND ZIP TIES. I hunt the North and I know you do too. In 30 odd years I have never rub into a Connibear in the north woods. Connibears were designed for the water trapper and with the exception of coon and Fischer, simply are not an effective upland trap. They are cumbersome to carry and set so you will rarely see one far from a road. To catch a fox, coyote or wolf in one is nearly impossible so they simply aren't used for large predator control. For every Connie set in the WOODS there are over 1000 leg holds set. As I said above, you should know how to release a dog but chances of one EVER getting caught are infinitesimal. Where is the greatest chance og encountering a Connie? Around cabins and homes. I don't hunt near any cabins and homes.


I've found both legal and illegal 220's in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Managagement Area near Dunbar and on public land in Marinette County. I've found multiple leg hold traps in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Management area near Laona so not near cabins. Had someone not set off the group of 220's we found near Dunbar my brother-in-law's GWP would be dead because she went up to the trap and shoved her head up to her shoulders into the bucket I've also found a several snares on Town land in Marinette County. A smaller dog like a brittany can definitely get it's head into a 160. Come December I know of a few places where I avoid because I've found trap lines in the National Forest and at least one line on County land.

I carry zip ties as well, but should my setter get caught in a conibear I doubt it would matter as she runs big and by the time I'd find her it would likely be too late.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Sharon » Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:06 pm

WOw. Lucky here. No wolves where I go and no traps. You can only trap north of the French River in Ontario

https://www.canoestories.com/french_riv ... gmap01.htm
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:27 pm

Grange wrote:
I've found both legal and illegal 220's in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Managagement Area near Dunbar and on public land in Marinette County. I've found multiple leg hold traps in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Management area near Laona so not near cabins. Had someone not set off the group of 220's we found near Dunbar my brother-in-law's GWP would be dead because she went up to the trap and shoved her head up to her shoulders into the bucket I've also found a several snares on Town land in Marinette County. A smaller dog like a brittany can definitely get it's head into a 160. Come December I know of a few places where I avoid because I've found trap lines in the National Forest and at least one line on County land.

I carry zip ties as well, but should my setter get caught in a conibear I doubt it would matter as she runs big and by the time I'd find her it would likely be too late.


You'll find leg hold traps everywhere but rarely near cabins. They are the trap of choice and really don't hurt a dog. Snares won't kill or even hurt a dog unless their illegal killer snares like Ram Lines. In order for any Connibear to kill a dog, the bogs head has to be in past the ears. Usually never happens because a dog can't get into a bucket that far. That's why, last time I checked, there had only been a couple dog's killed in Connibear in 10 years in Wi. and one of those was illegally set. I have never run into a large Connie anywhere in N. Wi. in 30 years of hunting there. We hunt the exact same areas so maybe I'm just lucky.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Mountaineer » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:00 pm

I found a boxed #220 conibear set and bacon-baited on a Kansas WIHA...about 50 yards from the pull off parking area in some pines.
A 14 mo. setter pup was down....I got there before her.
Stuff happens beyond what is expected or in the book.

Legal or not, large enough to kill or not, harmless foot-hold or not, zip ties carried or not...my anecdotes of bad are obviously no more legitimate than anecdotes of "never-seen that---therefore it does not exist" or any hopeful assumption of the well-traveled high road of legal trapping as opposed to just killin' yotes to keep more deer available.

We all strive to prepare for the unexpected afield and we all accept that one can not and would not want to, hunt a birddog in a bubble.
It is a shame then that we all do not reckon that other "hunters" can make selfish and poor decisions that put birddogs at risk.
"Hunters" more and more appear somehow...off-limits....even the clown in Ohio.
My guess is that a portion of the problem is locale and the big business of deer on very small tracts of land is not everyone's reality.

While the likelihood of dog harm is indeed slight, on that I agree, sitting in a vet's office and facing the unknown finds even a "slight likelihood" achieving a degree of personal concern absent that seen on rather distant and so dispassionate message boards.
Those old magazines and hard chairs have a way of sharpening reality.
Been there....and flipped thru the magazines.

I reckon at my age I should not expect more from people and what is chosen to be ignored but.... I do.
THAT, is irrational.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Up North » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:50 pm

I have come across an illegal 220 in a bucket set. It was not recessed at all, and in MN it should be by 7". The trapper had his name on the trap, so I looked him up and lets say we had a little talk.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby fishvik » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:03 pm

Thin blue, of all the things you mention the one you can probably count on is porkies. The one to most worry about is conibears. So always carry hemostats, light cord, and plastic slipties in your vest, learn how to pull quills and release a dog from a trap and you'll be prepared. I've hunted in areas with wolves since they were reintroduced in the 1990's and haven't seen one yet.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Thinblueline » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:38 am

Thanks everyone for your participation in this thread. Funny, on this one website, I start a thread where at least three of us hunt in the same Wisconsin county...Marinette. Small world.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:10 am

Thinblueline wrote:Thanks everyone for your participation in this thread. Funny, on this one website, I start a thread where at least three of us hunt in the same Wisconsin county...Marinette. Small world.

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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Grange » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:21 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:
Grange wrote:
I've found both legal and illegal 220's in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Managagement Area near Dunbar and on public land in Marinette County. I've found multiple leg hold traps in the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Habitat Management area near Laona so not near cabins. Had someone not set off the group of 220's we found near Dunbar my brother-in-law's GWP would be dead because she went up to the trap and shoved her head up to her shoulders into the bucket I've also found a several snares on Town land in Marinette County. A smaller dog like a brittany can definitely get it's head into a 160. Come December I know of a few places where I avoid because I've found trap lines in the National Forest and at least one line on County land.

I carry zip ties as well, but should my setter get caught in a conibear I doubt it would matter as she runs big and by the time I'd find her it would likely be too late.


You'll find leg hold traps everywhere but rarely near cabins. They are the trap of choice and really don't hurt a dog. Snares won't kill or even hurt a dog unless their illegal killer snares like Ram Lines. In order for any Connibear to kill a dog, the bogs head has to be in past the ears. Usually never happens because a dog can't get into a bucket that far. That's why, last time I checked, there had only been a couple dog's killed in Connibear in 10 years in Wi. and one of those was illegally set. I have never run into a large Connie anywhere in N. Wi. in 30 years of hunting there. We hunt the exact same areas so maybe I'm just lucky.


Where are you checking for the number of dogs killed in conibear or other traps? My father and I have looked for that information for years and haven't been able to find anything other than anecdotal comments or non-sourced quotes. We've checked with trappers, the WI Trapping Association, the WI DNR and have talked to multiple wardens. As far as I know there are no official statistics kept unlike wolf attacks.

On a brighter note I was in Marinette and Oconto Counties doing some wetland and trout stream crossing assessments and I saw two grouse with chicks. I also saw a turkey with a very small chick. I was surprised how small it was considering it is late June.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:08 am

First, I am or was, a trapper. Loved it and still do. So I google the information. Last dog I can remember reading or hearing about was a beagle caught in an illegal set around Appleton. It is just very rare because of the unlikelihood of Connobear being set where hunters hunt. Ay tapper has to be efficient to make money. That means sets that are easily visible without walking right up to them. That's why you don't see Connies in grouse coverts; if it can't be approached by boat or vehicle, their probably won't be a set. That's why if you hunt places atv's aren't permitted, you don't see traps. The only place I'm ever even lant is around water. So, if you don't hunt on roads or near cabins, your chance of seeing a Connobear is very, very, remote. They are worthless for fox or coyote. They were designed as a water trap. A dog has to work to get into a legal one and if one does, it's only his nose likely to get smacked. Out West where they're legal as trail sets, it's a different story.

Trapping is a highly controversial sport so when a dog is injured it becomes news like the Appleton dog. For a dog to get killed in a trap in Wi. Is si incredibly unlikely that it's something I'm aware of but NEVER really worry about. Chances are greater of your dog getting caught in a lost fox or coyote trap ad starving to death if not found. Thank you Astro.

I read the grouse are up 17% this year but wondered about chick mortality with the soggy year we've had. I've seen more woodcock this year than any year I can remember.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Thinblueline » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:04 am

If one does a little google searching, you can come up with what seems to be a legitimate article here and there documenting the occasional story of a dog killed in a trap, but I have to admit, such incidents do seem few and far between, so I feel a little better about that threat possibility.

I don't feel good at all about the wolf situation. Apparently, the WI DNR indicated there was a record 40 dogs killed in just one month during the month long bear season in 2016, in which dogs can be used. 40 dogs killed in one month!! WI hunters and trappers think the WI DNR is grossly underestimating the nearly 1000 wolves they admit to, pointing to the widespread attacks on dogs and livestock, along with the sheer number of wolf tracks seen all over the place as evidence of an out of control wolf population. I've also heard more and more wolf pictures are popping up on deer hunters' trail cams.

I find it unbelievable that one man, one federal judge, can make a decision that keeps these animals from being properly managed. One stupid federal activist judge with his own agenda keeping states from doing the right thing.

I had no plans to use an e-collar on my dog, but I believe I will as one said earlier, just to keep your dog from chasing after a deer...which means separation of me and my dog in wolf country. I also will probably wear a pistol on my hip just in case.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:45 am

The DNR says I'm wrong, but I don't believe them. They say running a dog with a bell or beeper is safer than running one on an ASTRO; I don''t by it. The reason so many bear dogs are killed is the wolves know they are in their territory from the baying on trail and they run the bear through denning territory. If you look at the DNR site they show you where perceived denning areas are. I hunt totally quiet. No beepers, no bells, no yelling, few whistles. I get in and out as quietly as possible so the wolves never are aware of my presence. And I carry a 45. The 45 is legal, slugs and buckshot are not. If a wolf is after my dog's I don't want to scare it.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Mountaineer » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:14 am

One reason, in the Yoop, that rabbit dogs and bear dogs are often victims of wolves is that both of those hunting dogs are often being trained during a time when the wolf pups are young....thereby triggering a protective response in the wolves.
As well as that pack nature of rabbit and bear dogs.
I would see little reason to expect that wolf pup dynamic to change in Wisconsin....time of year is one key rather than an area at any time of the year, imo.
I also see little likelihood of birddogs either in packs or giving voice on a trail as being one trigger.

That said, bad stuff happens to good dogs and one must be prepared for bad wolf encounters....the same as with illegal, unethical or simple selfishness regarding various forms of traps and kill baits.

I run a bell and an astro in the Yoop grouse/woodcock woods and once found fresh wolf tracks in the sand of the road near the truck as we returned from making a loop.
One hopefully does the best one believes necessary for our birddogs based upon the region's dangers....critter or Man.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Gertie » Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:39 pm

art hubbard wrote:I hunt grouse here in the forests of Idaho. Not to concerned about wolves although they have just about wiped out our elk. The wolves are attracted to hounds because when they tree a bear they bark until their owners can get to them, the wolves are very territorial and will chase out the dogs or kill them if given the chance. Since our bird dogs are silent and nearby not much chance of any wolf problem. Porcupines, I can break a dog of messing around with them. Traps, no problem here during bird season.


The delusion that elk numbers are down because of wolves is just that. A delusion. Idaho had a series of depredation hunts because there were too many elk eating cattle forage the past few years. Get over it. It's simply just not reality. The only difference is that elk are acting like elk instead of cows and you actually have to get out of the truck and look for them :roll: https://idfg.idaho.gov/2015-deer-elk-outlook
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby gonehuntin' » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:03 am

Gertie wrote:
art hubbard wrote:I hunt grouse here in the forests of Idaho. Not to concerned about wolves although they have just about wiped out our elk. The wolves are attracted to hounds because when they tree a bear they bark until their owners can get to them, the wolves are very territorial and will chase out the dogs or kill them if given the chance. Since our bird dogs are silent and nearby not much chance of any wolf problem. Porcupines, I can break a dog of messing around with them. Traps, no problem here during bird season.


The delusion that elk numbers are down because of wolves is just that. A delusion. Idaho had a series of depredation hunts because there were too many elk eating cattle forage the past few years. Get over it. It's simply just not reality. The only difference is that elk are acting like elk instead of cows and you actually have to get out of the truck and look for them :roll: https://idfg.idaho.gov/2015-deer-elk-outlook


It's no delusion, it's a fact. Elk have recovered in PARTS of Idaho, not their entire range. They have recovered in the sections where wolf harvest was the most successful. That's why you can't hunt multiple areas in Idaho. When I lived there we could hunt wherever we wanted on one tag. Wolves changes that. Now they have to limit the hunters per area. I don't hunt there anymore. Last time I hunted the NE, we never heard or saw an elk and that was in the prime of archery season. Wolves were a disaster for Idaho and for Yellowstone. Another example of man interfering when there was no reason to.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Grange » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:51 am

gonehuntin' wrote: That's why if you hunt places atv's aren't permitted, you don't see traps. The only place I'm ever even lant is around water. So, if you don't hunt on roads or near cabins, your chance of seeing a Connobear is very, very, remote. They are worthless for fox or coyote. They were designed as a water trap. A dog has to work to get into a legal one and if one does, it's only his nose likely to get smacked. Out West where they're legal as trail sets, it's a different story.

Trapping is a highly controversial sport so when a dog is injured it becomes news like the Appleton dog. For a dog to get killed in a trap in Wi. Is si incredibly unlikely that it's something I'm aware of but NEVER really worry about. Chances are greater of your dog getting caught in a lost fox or coyote trap ad starving to death if not found. Thank you Astro.

I read the grouse are up 17% this year but wondered about chick mortality with the soggy year we've had. I've seen more woodcock this year than any year I can remember.


My experience and those of my hunting partners are sure different than yours. When I lived on the west side of the State I'd hunt and run dogs a lot at Muddy Creek Fish and Wildlife Area and come about mid-November walking along riparian habitat, which is good bird habitat, and there was a decent chance I'd come across traps. I've already mentioned a couple place in prime grouse and woodcock habitat where I've encountered traps and there are other areas in the National Forest in Forest County. Most are along riparian corridors like the Rat River or even the Peshtigo River bottoms, but not all. The ones I found in the Grouse and Woodcock Management area by Dunbar were in the middle of mixed forest where there was no waterway.

I'm not surprised you don't hear about more dogs in traps. It's unlikely the trapper will report it especially if the trap set is illegal? They are already facing enough difficulties and reporting a dead or injured dog would only make their enjoyment of trapping more difficult. If the dog's owner can't find the dog the owner can't report it and even if they did then they may not report it. I mentioned that there was a brittany killed in a conibear in Marinette County two seasons go. My brother-in-law's GWP has been caught in a leg trap and a snare. You didn't hear about these in the news and DNR doesn't track trapping incidents so they won't have a report.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby fishvik » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:00 pm

Gertie, I'm with you the decline in some elk herds in Idaho has been far more a function of habitat decline and not a wolf one.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby JONOV » Mon Jul 03, 2017 1:48 pm

Can't say that I've ever really heard of a timber Wolf killing a bird dog.

I read about it once, in Alaska, but it was a Field and Stream or Outdoor Life piece, so rare enough to be newsworthy.

I've never heard of a porkie killing a dog.

Conibears, I have heard about, but given the number of hunters afield across MN and WI where they are used, I can't imagine its a big problem.

Would a small pair of bolt cutters solve the problem?
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby JONOV » Mon Jul 03, 2017 1:57 pm

Thinblueline wrote:If one does a little google searching, you can come up with what seems to be a legitimate article here and there documenting the occasional story of a dog killed in a trap, but I have to admit, such incidents do seem few and far between, so I feel a little better about that threat possibility.

I don't feel good at all about the wolf situation. Apparently, the WI DNR indicated there was a record 40 dogs killed in just one month during the month long bear season in 2016, in which dogs can be used. 40 dogs killed in one month!! WI hunters and trappers think the WI DNR is grossly underestimating the nearly 1000 wolves they admit to, pointing to the widespread attacks on dogs and livestock, along with the sheer number of wolf tracks seen all over the place as evidence of an out of control wolf population. I've also heard more and more wolf pictures are popping up on deer hunters' trail cams.


As was mentioned above, running bear hounds is a little different, as the hounds get a long way from hunters, are very loud, centered on one spot, etc...

There are always risks. At the end of the day, I'm more worried about my moment of inattention where my dog runs and is hit by a car than wolves or conibears.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Grange » Mon Jul 03, 2017 2:48 pm

JONOV wrote:Can't say that I've ever really heard of a timber Wolf killing a bird dog.

I read about it once, in Alaska, but it was a Field and Stream or Outdoor Life piece, so rare enough to be newsworthy.

I've never heard of a porkie killing a dog.

Conibears, I have heard about, but given the number of hunters afield across MN and WI where they are used, I can't imagine its a big problem.

Would a small pair of bolt cutters solve the problem?


I would doubt they would work on a conibear trap as the metal is fairly thick. You'd need a fairly good sized bolt cutter to work, and carrying them around would be a pain. After my father almost lost his brittany in a conibear trap he bought bolt cutter with folding handles that were big enough to work, but they were heavy and cumbersome. Be both carry long heavy duty zip ties.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby art hubbard » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:35 pm

Elk numbers down is a delusion? That's the answer I would expect from Fish & Game, Forestry. Come and check out the Clearwater region for yourself. A herd of 10,000 elk now numbers 1000 according to F&G stats. My goodness you now have to stand in line to get an elk tag whereas not too many years ago you just went in bought one. The only people we hear say there's no shortage is the people that do not live and hunt here. You can read anything, but live with it is another thing.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby mask » Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:03 pm

art hubbard wrote:Elk numbers down is a delusion? That's the answer I would expect from Fish & Game, Forestry. Come and check out the Clearwater region for yourself. A herd of 10,000 elk now numbers 1000 according to F&G stats. My goodness you now have to stand in line to get an elk tag whereas not too many years ago you just went in bought one. The only people we hear say there's no shortage is the people that do not live and hunt here. You can read anything, but live with it is another thing.

Yep the more the wolf numbers increased the more elk numbers went down.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Gertie » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:33 pm

fishvik wrote:Gertie, I'm with you the decline in some elk herds in Idaho has been far more a function of habitat decline and not a wolf one.


Funny how the folks who actually know the numbers and know something about wildlife management are all on the same page, isn't it? :lol:
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby mask » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:38 pm

I am talking specifically about units 15 and 16. I have run cattle and hunted there since 1976 so I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about. I dislike wolves, porcupines, and rattle snakes equally, I would happily kill every one I see.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Gertie » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:29 pm

mask wrote:I am talking specifically about units 15 and 16. I have run cattle and hunted there since 1976 so I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about. I dislike wolves, porcupines, and rattle snakes equally, I would happily kill every one I see.


No disrespect intended toward you. It's more of a general comment derived from dealing with a lot of "bucket biologists" who profess to be experts on issues that it's very evident they know nothing about beyond anecdotal nonsense. Gotta keep a sense of humor about it or you'd lose your marbles.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby art hubbard » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:51 pm

Yea Mask, Our units (10,12,10a,15,16 are in bad shape elk and moose wise. Been hunting these hills for 47 years, like you we know a little about what is going on. The game dept has put a cap on elk tags, first come gets tags. Moose tags are down to 1 or 2. I don't understand why some people are so sarcastic about our problem when they absolutely have no idea what we are dealing with.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby SCT » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:54 am

One thing is for sure, it makes no sense at all to manage the ungulate population and not their predators. We "manage" bear, and lion populations, why shouldn't we "manage" wolf populations? Wolves are very difficult to hunt in elk and moose country though. When there were tags available in ID and WY a few years ago, I knew a couple guys that hunted them in places where they had seen big packs. They found fresh tracks while hunting but never saw a wolf. I told them to look for a recent kill and sit on it. But, no luck. Where I bird hunt in WY there are wolves, but I've never seen them. A cowboy that returned one of my runoff dogs told me he killed one right where we were camping two weeks prior. He asked if we had a rifle and to kill them if we see them because the whole area was on a depredation permit haha.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby mask » Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:47 am

Gertie wrote:
mask wrote:I am talking specifically about units 15 and 16. I have run cattle and hunted there since 1976 so I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about. I dislike wolves, porcupines, and rattle snakes equally, I would happily kill every one I see.


No disrespect intended toward you. It's more of a general comment derived from dealing with a lot of "bucket biologists" who profess to be experts on issues that it's very evident they know nothing about beyond anecdotal nonsense. Gotta keep a sense of humor about it or you'd lose your marbles.

No problem on my end and no offense taken. There is more than one culprit in declining elk numbers. One major thing is the areas that were clear cut in the 60's and 70's are growing up and over. The elk flocked to these and did well as they were reseeded with grass and seedling trees. So the wolves were another straw on the camel. We were warned by the Canadian game biologists as to what would happen and it has. The elk can not stand the challenge of wolf packs in many areas.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby fishvik » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:06 pm

Mask, I totally agree, it is not just one factor. I hunted those units as a student at U of I in the early 1970's and then again as a biological technician for the Clearwater NF the late 80's and early 90's. The 70's were at the tail end of the N. Idaho heyday of elk populations. Those populations were tied directly to the fires in Clearwater during the 1930's and early 40's. The fires provide large shrub dominated ecosystems that provide excellent winter range connected to forested summer range dominated by timber and high meadows. The majority of timber harvest in this area was from the mid 1970's to the 1990's. In some drainages up to 80% of the crown cover was removed which decreased that juxtaposition of timber and open brushfields. In addition roading for timber harvest was as high as 12 miles of roads per square mile. This made access to elk herds in this area for both humans and wolves much easier and added to the decline of the Clearwater elk herds. Liberal bull only hunting seasons had brought down bull to cow ratios to 10 bulls to 100 cows. I remember surveying winter kill during the winter of 1988-89 on the NF of the Clearwater River above Dworshak Reservoir. 90% of the of dead elk were old cows that had starved to death. This was before wolves were reintroduced to Idaho. The wolf population is being strictly managed through sport hunting, trapping and other control measures. At this time there is a proposed rule to allow hunting wolves over bait. No other state has allowed baiting for hunting wolves. By the end of 2015 the wolf population was down to a minimum of 786 wolves statewide after 358 were eliminated various measures including 256 taken through sport hunting and trapping. In my opinion wolves are a very good scapegoat for the decline in elk populations but are not the major one and Idaho Fish & Game policies have been very aggressive in managing this species. After all elk are the bread and butter species.
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Re: Wolves, Conibear Traps, Porcupines...Irrational Fears?

Postby Gertie » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:40 pm

Another very important component that often goes overlooked are the huge rangeland fires occurring on BLM land. Many of these areas are adjacent to forests and provide important winter habitat. The cheatgrass moves in and the subsequent fires destroy the sagebrush and the native bunchgrasses that a lot of wildlife depend on. It's a tough situation and people really don't like hearing the long-term solution.
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