Attorneys for Wisconsin’s Chippewa bands tried to persuade U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb lto allow tribal hunters go after deer at night this week.
Crabb earlier blocked the tribal night hunt, saying that the state could enforce its current shining laws until this week’s preliminary injunction hearing on the issue.
But Crabb stopped short of making a decision this week, giving attorneys until Monday, Dec. 17 to file a final round of briefs. It wasn’t clear if a decision will be reached at that time.
Attorneys representing the Chippewa argued that the tribal night hunt for deer would be safer than night hunting for wolves. They also noted that tribal night deer hunters would have to pass a marksmanship test.
State attorneys argued that night deer hunting is riskier than going after wolves in the dark, something the state allows beginning the day after gun deer season – Nov. 26 this year.
The DNR said earlier the night hunt is similar to one the tribes tried to have put in place in 1989, when they argued that because the state allows night hunting for animals such as coyotes, tribes should be allowed to hunt deer at night. That hunt was not allowed to proceed.
The tribes have indicated that the state’s wolf hunt is among the changes in circumstances that prompted the tribes to pursue night deer hunting again.
The tribes came out in opposition to the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season, trying in September to halt wolf hunting and trapping in the northern part of the state by laying claim to all wolves in the ceded territory.
The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), the commission that oversees Chippewa Tribes’ hunting and fishing rights, announced Nov. 21 that a commission order authorizing night deer hunting by tribal members in the ceded territory was in place. Night hunting for deer was to start Monday, Nov. 26.
One tribal hunter, from the Mole Lake Band, had received a night hunting permit, but GLIFWC cancelled the permit. More than 70 hunters had become eligible for a permit under tribal guidelines.
In addition to marksmanship testing, tribal hunters had to submit a shooting plan that indicates a safe firing zone.
The tribes have held off on issuing permits until the matter is resolved.
Under treaties signed in the 1837 and 1842, the Chippewa ceded 22,400 square miles across northern Wisconsin to the federal government while retaining off-reservation hunting and fishing privileges. The ceded territory covers roughly the northern one-third of Wisconsin.
Chippewa tribes conduct their own deer hunt, independent of state deer hunts, in the ceded territory. The 2012 tribal deer hunting season ends on Jan. 6, 2013.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org