Wildlife groups sue to stop Wisconsin wolf hunt

Updated 1 hour, 10 minutes ago

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A coalition of wildlife groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to stop the Wisconsin wolf hunt this fall and strike down a state law requiring annual hunts, arguing the statutes won’t allow no latitude for wildlife officials to review population estimates.

The lawsuit comes after the hunters exceeded their death limit in a messy, court-ordered spring hunt in February. Environmentalists have inundated the state’s natural resources department with requests to cancel the fall hunt, fearing it could devastate the wolf population.

MNR biologists recommended setting the fall quota at 130 animals. But the agency’s board voted this month to set the slaughter limit at 300 animals. The Chippewa tribes of Wisconsin are entitled to half the quota but refuse to hunt wolves because they consider them sacred, meaning that the work quota for state licensed hunters would likely be 150 wolves. Wildlife advocates say it’s still too much.

“In a travesty of reasoned deliberation, the council dismissed the recommendations of MNR experts, ignored the science and ignored the facts to arrive at a politically artificial conclusion that flouts the council’s constitutional and statutory responsibility to protect and conserve wildlife. the state, ”the lawsuit said. “Without court intervention, the result will be another devastating blow to the wolf population of Wisconsin.”

Hunters, farmers and conservationists have been locked in a standoff over how to deal with wolves in Wisconsin for years. Farmers say wolves are destroying their livestock and hunters are looking for another species to stalk. Environmentalists argue that the animal is too beautiful to be killed and that the population is still too fragile to endure the hunt.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in 2011 requiring the DNR to hold an annual wolf hunt between November and February if the animal is not listed as an endangered species, making Wisconsin the only state to have a wolf hunt. wolf compulsory. The law also makes Wisconsin the only state where hunters can use dogs to hunt wolves.

The state held three wolf hunting seasons before a federal judge put wolves back on the endangered species list. The Trump administration decided to withdraw them again in November. The decision became final in January.

The DNR had planned to hold a hunt in November, but the hunter advocacy group Hunter Nation obtained a court order forcing the agency to allow a hunt in February. The group argued that the Biden administration could put wolves back on the endangered species list at any time, denying hunters the ability to kill wolves.

The DNR set the slaughter quota at 119, but hunters killed 218 wolves in just four days, forcing an untimely end to the season. Environmentalists have called it a massacre. The latest DNR estimates place the wolf population at around 1,000 animals; wildlife advocates say hunters likely killed a quarter of the population if poaching is factored in.

They urged MNR to cancel the fall season. DNR biologists compromised by setting the slaughter quota at 130 animals, assuming the Chippewa would claim their half and leaving a work quota of 65. But the people Walker appoints control the board of directors of the agency and increased that limit to 300, effectively setting the quota at 150.

The lawsuit demands that a judge block fall hunting because the board ignored science and flouted its responsibility to protect Wisconsin’s wildlife. The groups argue that the board vote was illegitimate because President Fred Prehn is occupying his post illegally and mistook the board for a flurry of motions leading to the final quota vote.

Prehn’s term ended in May. Democratic Governor Tony Evers has appointed Sandra Naas to replace him, giving the majority to those appointed by Evers. Prehn refused to resign until the State Senate confirmed Naas; The Republicans control the Senate and have made no move towards a hearing on Naas.

The lawsuit also asks a judge to strike down the 2011 wolf hunting law. The groups argue that the state’s constitution requires the DNR to protect natural resources. The law does not allow this because it deprives the agency of its discretion to decide whether the wolf population is strong enough to survive a hunt, according to the file.

DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye declined to comment on the case.

The plaintiffs include Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance, based in Madison; Project Coyote based in California; and Animal Wellness Action and the Center for Humane Economy, both based in Washington, DC

Patrick Clark, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is also included as a complainant. of them in February. He argues in the lawsuit that canceling the fall hunt could allow the pack to grow again.

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Follow Todd Richmond on https://twitter.com/trichmond1


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