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6 tribes sue Wisconsin to try to stop November wolf hunt

Associated Press

Six Native American tribes sued Wisconsin on Tuesday to try to stop its planned gray wolf hunt in November, asserting that the hunt violates their treaty rights and endangers an animal they consider sacred.

The Chippewa tribes say treaties give them rights to half of the wolf quota in territory they ceded to the United States in the mid-1800s. But rather than hunt wolves, the tribes want to protect them.

The tribal lawsuit comes three weeks after a coalition of wildlife advocacy groups sued to stop Wisconsin’s wolf hunt this fall and void a state law mandating annual hunts, arguing that the statutes don’t give wildlife managers any leeway to consider population estimates.

Hunters blew past their limit during a court-ordered hunt in February. The state Department of Natural Resources set the quota at 119, but hunters killed 218 wolves in just four days, forcing an early end to the season.

Conservationists then deluged the department with requests to cancel this fall’s hunt out of concerns it could devastate the wolf population. Agency biologists recommended setting the fall quota at 130. But the agency’s board last month set the kill limit at 300. The tribes have claimed their half, but since they won’t hunt wolves, the working quota for state-licensed hunters would be 150. The lawsuit alleges the board’s decision to set the quota at 300 was a deliberate move to nullify the tribes’ share and was not based on science.

The DNR’s latest estimates put Wisconsin’s wolf population at roughly 1,000. Opponents say hunters probably killed at least a quarter of the population if poaching is included.

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