MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – November is two weeks away, and with the new month comes the start of Wisconsin’s wolf hunt. But this hunt comes as a concern to conservationists and indigenous people after hunters exceeded the established wolf hunting quota last year.
In February, Wisconsin hosted its first legal wolf hunt in decades after gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list. But in the first several hours of the hunt, hunters killed nearly 100 more wolves than they were allotted. Now, the Ojibwe and conservations are suing the state to stop this year’s hunt all together.
Both groups allege the state Department of Natural Resources does not know the exact population of gray wolves, making it impossible to set a kill quota.
“There’s too much uncertainty in the wolf population count to be able to proceed,” said Michelle Lute, a National Carnivore Conservation Manager for Project Coyote — one of the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit.
The Natural Resources Board originally approved a quota of 300 wolves for the November hunt, but the DNR has the final say. On Oct. 5, the DNR approved a quota of 130 wolves for the hunt. But given last year’s runaway killings, the tribes and conservationists want to stop thsi year’s hunt all together.
“We have filed a motion for preliminary injunction,” explained Gussie Lord, a managing attorney for Earthjustice — who is representing the six Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin. “We are asking the federal court to stop the federal wolf hunt.”
Not only is the hunt a violation of the tribes’ off-reservation treaty rights, Lord says the Ojibwe also have a cultural and spiritual interest in protecting the state’s wolf population.
“The Ojibwe believe that what happens to the gray wolf happens to the Ojibwe,” Lord said. “What happens to the wolf happens to humanity. And so it’s important for the wolf to be healthy and regain its place in the landscape in Wisconsin.”
NBC15 reached out the DNR twice for an interview, but they declined to comment on the lawsuits.
According to the Associated Press, the DNR policy board voted not to hire outside attorneys during a closed session meeting.