DNR is required by 2011 state law to hold wolf hunt between November and February
The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of Luke Hilgemann and Hunter Nation, filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court against Wisconsin DNR Secretary Preston Cole, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, for ignoring a state law requirement to schedule a wolf hunt season this winter. The gray wolf was delisted from the Endangered Species Act on January 4, 2021, triggering a 2011 state law that requires Wisconsin’s DNR to schedule a gray wolf hunting season between November and February.
The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Anthony LoCoco, said, “The Wisconsin DNR does not have the discretion to determine whether to follow state law when it comes to scheduling a gray wolf hunt. WILL intends to hold Wisconsin’s administrative agencies accountable until this pattern of ignoring state law ends.”
Hunter Nation President, Luke Hilgemann, said, “Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold a hunting and trapping season if the gray wolf is not under federal protections. Despite this clear mandate, Governor Evers, Secretary Cole and the Department of Natural Resources are playing politics and intentionally delaying the wolf harvest to give radical anti-hunting groups time to block the delisting and stop a hunt altogether.”
Background: The United State Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act in March 2019. On November 3, 2020, US Fish and Wildlife proposed a final rule to delist the gray wolf effective January 4, 2021.
Wisconsin state law is clear that if the gray wolf is not protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Wisconsin DNR “shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves.” The law further states that DNR must “establish a single annual open season for both hunting and trapping wolves that begins on the first Saturday in November of each year and ends on the last day of February of the following year.”
But the Wisconsin DNR, despite years of advance warning and months to prepare for a January 2021 delisting of the gray wolf, has refused to permit the hunting and trapping of wolves in January and February of 2021.
WILL represents Hunter Nation President and CEO, Luke Hilgemann, and Hunter Nation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting America’s hunting heritage and the right to hunt.
WILL’s lawsuit alleges DNR’s decision to forgo a gray wolf hunt until November 2021 violates state law and the Wisconsin state constitution’s guarantee of a right to hunt. Once the gray wolf was delisted on January 4, Wisconsin DNR had an obligation to comply with state law that permits the trapping and hunting of gray wolves for a season between November and February.
- Hunter Nation v. DNR complaint, February 2, 2021