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Judge: DNR Should Not Have Halted Wolf Hunt in February
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/19/2021

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources broke the law when it originally decided not to hold a wolf hunt last winter after the animal was removed from the Endangered Species List during the final days of the Trump Administration. That's according to a ruling on Thursday by Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Bennett Brantmeier, who said the agency's decision to forgo a hunting and trapping season for gray wolves in February 2021 violated state statute and the constitutional right to hunt.

Judge Brantmeier was responding to a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Hunter Nation earlier this year. Those same groups sued the state after it announced that a wolf harvest would not happen; but were forced to reverse that decision through a judge's ruling in February.

Federal protections for wolves were removed on January 4, which is in the middle of the statutorily prescribed 2020-21 wolf hunting season. At its January 2021 board meeting, the DNR voted against holding an immediate hunt in lieu of scheduling one in November--which would be part of the 2021-22 season. But state statutes say that when the wolf isn't on the endangered list, a hunt must be held.

This week's ruling means that if the wolf is ever removed from the federal list in the middle of the season again, the agency must act immediately to establish a hunting period.

Meanwhile, the November 2021 hunting season was being planned until a federal judge in Dane County issued a temporary injunction on October 25 against the harvest at the request of wildlife groups. They claim the season was unconstitutional because the DNR failed to update certain regulations that had not been changed in nearly 10 years.


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