A Dane County judge today ruled that the Department of Natural Resources violated the Wisconsin constitution and the Department’s own rules in planning a November wolf hunt and ordered that no wolves can be hunted until the Department complies with its obligation to develop a current management plan and complete a rule-making process for the hunting of wolves. Today’s ruling vindicated the rights afforded the public under the Wisconsin Constitution and Wisconsin Statutes.
The outcome was cheered by six Ojibwe tribes who have filed a separate legal challenge. The tribes’ case against the state argues the proposed hunt violates the tribes’ treaty rights,which arise under federal law and predate Wisconsin’s creation as a state. The tribes, represented by Earthjustice, the nonprofit environmental legal organization, are slated to argue their case about the hunt next Friday, Oct. 29, in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin.
“We applaud today’s well-crafted decision, and we also understand that it may not be the last word on this issue in the Wisconsin court system,” said Gussie Lord, Earthjustice attorney. “We intend to pursue every opportunity to protect the Ojibwe tribes and the Wisconsin wolf population.”
The lawsuits follow a disastrous February hunt, in which the Ojibwe tribes asserted a treaty-protected right to half of the wolves in ceded territory in Wisconsin in order to protect those wolves from Wisconsin’s rushed and ill-advised actions. Nevertheless, in just three days, hunters using packs of dogs, snares, and leg-hold traps killed 218 wolves, exceeding both the state and tribal quotas, and killing up to a third of the state’s population.
Earthjustice represents the tribal nations Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.