October 31, 2014

Tribes’ night deer hunt stopped in its tracks

DNR officials are looking toward a preliminary injunction hearing Dec. 12 in federal court over the Chippewa Indians’ proposed night deer hunt. After meeting with both sides Wednesday, Federal Judge Barbara Crabb ruled, for now, the agency can enforce the 22-year-old law against shining deer in a night hunt.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission had moved to authorize tribal members to kill deer at night in the Ceded territory (roughly the northern 1/3 of the state) beginning Monday, although no permits to do so were actually issued.

“The issue is going to come up as to whether or not this is the appropriate mechanism that the tribes are trying to use and also whether or not the basis for their regulation is founded on health, safety, and welfare principles,” says Quinn Williams, section chief for the DNR’s Bureau of Legal Services.

The DNR is concerned about the dangers involved with night-time shooting of deer. The tribes see this no differently than hunting wolves at night which is legal under state statute. They also cite treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather in the territory.

A GLIFWC spokeswoman says the panel has suspended its previous authorization of the night hunt until the hearing, “No permits will be issued during this intervening period,” says Sue Erickson.

Larry Lee-WSAU contributed to this report