MADISON, Wisconsin (WMTV) – November is two weeks away, and with the new month comes the start of the Wisconsin wolf hunt. But this hunt is a concern for environmentalists and indigenous people after hunters exceeded the wolf hunting quota set last year.
In February, Wisconsin held its first legal wolf hunt in decades after gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list. But in the first hours of the hunt, the hunters killed nearly 100 more wolves than expected. Now the Ojibwa and the conservations are suing the state to stop this year’s hunt together.
Both groups allege that the state’s Department of Natural Resources does not know the exact population of gray wolves, making it impossible to establish a slaughter quota.
“There is too much uncertainty in the wolf population count to continue,” said Michelle Lute, national carnivore conservation officer for Project Coyote, one of the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit.
The Natural Resources Board initially approved a quota of 300 wolves for the November hunt, but MNR has the final say. On October 5, MNR approved a quota of 130 wolves for hunting. But given last year’s runaway killings, tribes and environmentalists want to stop this year’s hunt together.
“We have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction,” said Gussie Lord, general counsel for Earthjustice, who represents the six Ojibwe tribes of Wisconsin. “We are asking the Federal Court to stop the federal wolf hunt.”
Not only is the hunt a violation of tribal off-reserve treaty rights, Lord says Ojibway people also have a cultural and spiritual interest in protecting the state’s wolf population.
“The Ojibway believe what happens to the gray wolf happens to the Ojibway,” Lord said. “What happens to the wolf happens to humanity. It is therefore important that the wolf is in good health and finds its place in the Wisconsin landscape.
NBC15 has contacted the DNR twice for an interview, but they declined to comment on the lawsuits.
According to the Associated Press, the DNR board voted not to hire outside lawyers in a closed-door meeting.
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