February 11, 2016

Tribes will hunt deer at night

It appears that some Wisconsin tribal members will be shooting deer at night, with lights. “I think this came up following the allowance of night hunting for wolf, and using illumination at the point of kill for wolf,” said Sue Erickson with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commision. “They realized then that the state seemed to deem this practice safe.”

The Department of Natural Resources went to court last week to block the move, but the tribes filed a counter motion Monday, and Erickson said there would be hunters using lights 50 minutes after sunset on Monday. “This is not “shining,” as in going out with your car and shining for deer, or walking through the woods with big lights looking for deer.” she explained. “They can only illuminate deer from a stationary position at the point of kill, or to trail a wounded animal.” 

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the decision to allow lights in hunting wolves was not made by her agency. “Use of lights at the point of kill for the wolf hunting season was implemented by the legislature. That was part of what was actually written into the law, so DNR didn’t have any role as far as developing that,” said Stepp. “We don’t believe that hunting deer at night is the same as hunting wolves at night, so that’s why we’re asking the court for clarity in that.”

Erickson said that for now, only 74 tribal members have passed the proficiency testing the tribes have required for night hunting. “The tribes want the opportunity to go after the deer in the ceded territory, on their treaty hunt . . . and entitlement to hunt under less restrictive regulations,” she said. The tribes filed a counter motion in court, seeking relief from the 1990 judgment that disallows night hunting.

“We’ve had great relations with the tribes in the first couple years of this administration,” said Stepp. “I have every confidence that we’ll be able to move on through this. It’s just in this particular issue we’re going to need some court help to decipher everything.”

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