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Native American Tribes Suing Over Wolf Hunt

Six Native American Tribes are suing the state of Wisconsin on the grounds that the state’s planned wolf hunts go against their treaty protected rights. The luisit was filed on Sept. 21, 2021. It was filed in an effort to stop the state’s wolf hunting and trapping season scheduled to begin Nov. 6, 2021. 

Treaties dating back to the 19th-century gave the tribes the rights to half of any wolves killed in territory they ceded to the United States. Instead of wanting to hunt the wolves, they want to protect them. 

Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) policy board approved a quota of 300 wolves for the fall hunt. The Wisconsin DNR wildlife officials wrote a recommended memo with a quota of 130 wolves but the policy board more than doubled the recommended quota. 

“In setting a quota for the upcoming wolf hunt, Defendants purposefully and knowingly discriminated against the Ojibwe Tribes by acting to nullify their share,” the lawsuit stated. 

States law passed in 2011 requires the DNR to hold an annual wolf hunt between November and February wherever the gray wolf is not on the federal endangered species list. In the past, wolf seasons occurred in 2012, 2013, and 2014 before wolves were re-listed on the endangered species list. 

The upcoming wolf hunt in November is in fact not the first wolf hunt that is occurring this year in Wisconsin. A hunter advocacy group won a court order forcing the DNR to launch a rush season in February of 2021. 

The department set a quota for state-licensed hunters at 119 wolves but hunters blew past that mark, killing 218 wolves in four days. In addition, another 33 wolves were killed by vehicles, depredation control or poaching. 

“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 Indians, said in a statement Tuesday according to CBS News.

Keith Warnke, administrator of the DNR’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division, wrote in the memo that the agency must be cautious because they do not have any experience running a second hunt in one calendar year. He also added that the department does not fully understand the impact of the February hunt on the wolf population because it took place during wolves’ breeding season. 

“We’re looking out for the next seven generations of our children…When we know it’s wrong to hunt, we don’t harvest. We step back and assess the damage. We take care of our community in a good way as others should,” said Johnson. 

The wolf population also has an effect on different aspects of Wisconsin’s ecosystems. Wisconsin has an overpopulation of white-tailed deer throughout the state, one which a low population of wolves will only help the ever growing deer population. 

The six tribal nations that brought forth the allegations include 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.

The Wisconsin DNR is reviewing the lawsuit but has not made any further comments. 


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