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12/18/2012 9:58:00 AM
Tribal night deer hunt blocked
Federal judge rules that tribes 'overstepped their authority'
Judge to revisit lawsuit on the use of dogs for wolf hunting

A Dane County Circuit Court judge is scheduled this week to revisit a lawsuit challenging the use of dogs in the state’s wolf hunt.

On Aug. 31 Judge Peter C. Anderson issued a temporary injunction involving the use of dogs for tracking and trailing of wolves and for the use of dogs for training to track or trail free-ranging wolves.

Anderson scheduled Dec. 20 to hold a hearing on the DNR’s request to lift the injunction on the training and use of dogs to pursue wolves. He is expected to hand down an oral ruling Thursday afternoon.

A group of humane societies filed suit in August alleging that the DNR failed to enact any meaningful restrictions on how hunters can use dogs to track wolves.

The wolf hunt commenced on Oct. 15. Prior to the injunction the use of dogs to track or trail wolves was slated to start Nov. 26, the day after the deer gun season, and continue through the end of the wolf season Feb. 28.

As the hearing nears, Wisconsin wolf hunters and trappers have reached quota in all but one of the state’s six wolf management zones. Only one zone remains open to hunting and trapping.

Craig Turk
Outdoors Writer/Photographer

Tribal hunting of deer at night in the ceded territory, authorized by the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) last month, will not be allowed to go forward for now.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Monday that the tribes do not have the authority to authorize the night hunting without approval from the state.

In her decision, Crabb said, “To grant plaintiffs’ request, I would have to conclude that plaintiffs are permitted to amend a judgment that is more than 20 years old without a stipulation from defendants or approval from this court. Not only is that view untenable, but the consequences of adopting it could be perilous. One of the primary reasons for the creation of courts is to prevent the dangers that often accompany self-help remedies such as plaintiffs’ November 2012 order. Settling disputes by negotiation without court intervention is ideal for all the parties involved, but when negotiation fails, the parties must come to court (or submit to arbitration) to resolve the matter. The proper response cannot be for each side to decide on its own what the law permits, particularly with an issue like this one that involves public safety concerns. In these circumstances, it is essential that the parties exercise restraint and use the proper channels to resolve their dispute.”

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp issued a statement shortly after the decision was handed down indicating that the ruling was what the DNR was hoping for.

“The Department of Natural Resources is pleased with U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision that Wisconsin Chippewa tribes overstepped their authority when they issued the authorization for hunting deer at night with lights without state approval,” the statement said.

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.

Watch for more on this story in the Friday edition of The Lakeland Times.

Craig Turk may be reached at cturk@lakelandtimes.com

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