DNR Backs Down, Resumes In-Person Hunter Education

DNR reverses course after WILL lawsuit

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) dismissed a lawsuit filed in June against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after the state agency agreed to make in-person hunter education courses available in Wisconsin. WILL’s lawsuit, on behalf of Hunter Nation and Hunter Nation President and CEO Luke Hilgemann, challenged the DNR’s authority to cancel in-person hunter safety courses as a result of COVID-19.

The DNR reversed course and announced on June 26 the resumption of in-person hunter education courses starting July 13. DNR’s announcement came just 9 days after WILL filed the lawsuit.

Background: As a result of the declared health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DNR had closed all in-person hunter education courses throughout Wisconsin. Once the declared emergency ended, DNR continued to cancel the courses, denying Wisconsinites the opportunity to take hunter education in-person – which is the only option for Wisconsinites under the age of 18.

On June 17, WILL sued DNR in Marathon County Circuit Court challenging DNR’s policy to prohibit all in-person hunter education courses. WILL alleged the policy was unlawfully adopted, violated state law, and was an unconstitutional restriction on the right to hunt. DNR announced the policy would be reversed on June 26.

The Quotes: Lucas Vebber, WILL Deputy Counsel, said: “We are pleased DNR reversed course and quickly backtracked from their unlawful and unconstitutional policy. Wisconsinites can once again access in-person hunter education.”

Luke Hilgemann, plaintiff and President of Hunter Nation, said: “The right to hunt is guaranteed in the Wisconsin Constitution. Hunter Nation is pleased that DNR has rolled this policy back. We will always stand vigilant to protect and defend the right to hunt for all Wisconsinites.”

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