6 Wisconsin tribes sue to end upcoming wolf hunt
Six tribes in Wisconsin have sued the state in an attempt to end the upcoming wolf hunt.
The lawsuit, filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the six tribes, claims the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) violated their treaty rights and is putting an animal they consider sacred in danger.
The tribes say the Natural Resource Board approved a quota of up to 300 wolves for the wolf hunt that begins on Nov. 6. That is more than double the previously recommended quota of 130 wolves, which the DNR proposed despite some experts saying that figure is too high, a news release says.
"This November proposal follows a disastrous February hunt. 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 hunt," the Earthjustice news release said.
The Wisconsin DNRs held a wolf hunt last winter after a hunting group filed a lawsuit demanding one. That came after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the endangered species list.
The DNR had planned to begin holding wolf hunts again in November 2021. (Wisconsin state law requires a wolf hunt be held every year.)
In just three days of the wolf hunt last winter, hunters killed 218 wolves, exceeding the 119-wolf quota. National Geographic reports hunters killed one-third of the state's wolves during the hunt.
“In our treaty rights, we’re supposed to share with the state 50-50 in our resources and we’re feeling that we’re not getting our due diligence because of the slaughter of wolves in February,” John Johnson, Sr., president of Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indian, said in a statement. “The out-of-state hunters are petitioning the courts just so they can hunt, not to protect the resources. The Ojibwe are accountable for everything when we hunt, fish, and gather any resources."
Earthjustice represents the tribal nations of 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.
Earthjustice also filed a challenge to the Trump Administration's decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Earlier this month, groups representing 200 tribes sent a letter to the Department of the Interior demanding gray wolves get protection nationwide.
The previous administration's decision to delist gray wolves made it legal for states to hold wolf hunts again. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is currently undergoing the process to update its wolf management plan.