Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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WI DNR announces updates to Voigt decision

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Great Lakes
Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) today announced a
number of updates to the court-approved rules that govern Chippewa
Indian hunting, fishing and trapping off-reservation rights in
Wisconsin’s Ceded Territory.

The 1991 court judgment in Lac Courte Oreilles Indians v. State of
Wis., most commonly known as the Voigt decision, required the six
Wisconsin Chippewa bands to establish a conservation code by which
their off reservation treaty rights would be exercised. They did so
by creating the Off Reservation Model Code.

“Changes in hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities since the
original agreement support these modifications both to maintain the
original intent of the agreement and to streamline implementation,”
said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp “These changes will not endanger our
wildlife, fish and forest resources but will make things simpler
and more efficient.”

GLIFWC and DNR representatives worked closely over the past year
and a half to address the areas where changes were needed to the
Off Reservation Model Code and succeeded in producing modifications
without the need for litigation. Both the tribes and the state view
the result as a step forward in the way these issues are handled
for all parties. “It is really significant that we were able to
institutionalize the communication and dialogue between the
parties,” said James Zorn, GLIFWC Executive Administrator.

Many of the modifications mirror changes in state hunting, fishing
and trapping codes, and other changes represent an increase in the
level of shared knowledge and cooperation between the department
and GLIFWC staff.

Updates include changes in walleye spearing harvest monitoring for
small-quota lakes, streamlining of tribal wildlife quota
declarations for antlerless deer, bear, fisher, otter and bobcat
and a pilot project that allows tribal offices to issue gathering
permits for certain forest products.

The changes in walleye harvest reporting procedures apply only to
lakes with a harvestable walleye quota of 75 or fewer fish. All
fish speared in these lakes must still be reported. In the past,
walleye harvest could only be reported at the landing of the lake
just speared. Fish speared in these small-quota lakes can now be
reported at a location other than the landing of the speared lake.
Quotas are not increased, only the reporting procedure has been
modified.

DNR can now also move ahead with season structure setting ahead of
receiving tribal harvest declarations for antlerless deer, bear,
fisher, otter and bobcat if tribal harvests remain below 15% of the
tribal share of these species, thereby simplifying the season
setting process.

The changes were filed with the court as an amendment to the final
judgment entered in 1991.

A summary of the changes:

Meetings of the Agency Leadership. Allows for a
regularized process to coordinate communication by agency leaders
in DNR and GLIFWC, and agrees that both parties will make good
faith efforts to coordinate regarding their respective management
and regulatory authorities.

Biennial Stipulation Review. Allows both
parties to coordinate discussion of proposed management and
regulatory issues and to provide a regular schedule for stipulation
review and possible amendment in that the parties agree to make
good faith efforts to undertake a review of, and propose changes
to, the stipulations no less than biennially.

Technical Updates and Amendments. Establishes a
mechanism that allows for automatic implementation of provisions of
a GLIFWC “Commission Order,” after consultation with the state and
agreement of the parties, for issues that substantially mirror
existing and future state law changes to the management of
resources within the ceded territory. A Tribe may choose to adopt
more restrictive measures, thereby reserving each Tribe’s
authority. This amendment makes the implementation of a Commission
Order less cumbersome by eliminating the need for continuous
ratification of the tribal codes that previously had to be amended
after the issuance of each Commission Order.

Adjacent Spawning Stream Segments. Establishes
designated adjacent spawning stream segments as one “unit” for
spearing purposes where the walleye declaration for a particular
lake applies both to the lake and designated river segment.

Designated River and Stream Segment Regulation – Long
Term Six Year Joint Study. 
Establishes a six year joint
study of existing stream segments which may be amended upon
agreement of the parties, that allows for the harvest of 60 walleye
per segment per day without restrictions on the number of boats or
spearers, and without the five fish daily bag limit, while
maintaining the 120 fish total annual harvest per segment with a
maximum of two days allowed for harvest.

Additional Designated River and Stream Segments – Long
Term Six Year Joint Study. 
Establishes a long term six
year joint study for spearing in eight designated stream segments
that the tribes have had annual recurring access for ongoing
study.

Calculation of Safety Factors. Establishes
defined timeline for the parties to review data, methodology and
calculations for the appropriate “safety factors” used in setting
walleye and muskellunge safe harvest levels every 10 years, unless
both parties agree to meet earlier, or if such review is
unnecessary.

Gillnet Mesh Size – Six Year Joint Study.
Establishes a six year joint study that makes permanent existing
ongoing annual studies which may be amended upon agreement of the
parties, that continues to allow for the use of additional gillnet
mesh sizes on lakes 1,000 acres or larger.

Alternative Monitoring of Tribal Walleye Harvest on
Certain Lakes.
Creates an administrative mechanism that
sets forth the list of certain low quota harvest lakes (maximum
quota of 75 walleye) where on-site monitoring is not required, upon
agreement of the parties. Registration of the harvest is still
required.

Wildlife Quotas/Bag Limits – Thresholds.
Establishes a stipulation change identical to what is currently in
place for turkey to implement the threshold harvest system in
Wisconsin for the following species; antlerless deer, black bears,
fishers, otters and bobcats. The shift from a declared quota prior
to harvest to a system limiting harvest in the following year is
designed to mirror the state’s management system for the species
listed, and is based on the fact that the tribes rarely approach
the 50% harvest limitation for those species. Tribal members would
be regulated by a daily bag limit, registration would still be
required (within 3 working days of harvest), and carcass tags are
still required.

Tribal Gathering on State Lands – Two Year Joint
Assessment.
Establishes management and regulatory
principles pertaining to tribal gathering on select DNR properties
for a two year trial study period. This stipulation change will
provide a means for tribal self regulation while establishing the
necessary assurance that the tribes will ensure that their members’
gathering activities are consistent with the state’s management
objectives.

Tribal Mentored Hunting Regulations. Codifies
the regulatory change established via state law for mentored state
youth less than 12 years in age and GLIFWC Commission Order
#2009-01, that established culturally appropriate regulations to
provide tribal members more treaty harvest opportunities in line
with state harvesters by expanding hunting opportunities for tribal
hunters less than twelve years of age and for tribal hunters that
have not been issued a certificate of accomplishment from a tribal
hunter education and firearm safety course.

Deer Unit Goal Review. Allows the Department
the flexibility to re-evaluate the three (3) year time frame for
deer unit goal review by establishing a deer unit goal review every
five (5) years.

Committee Updates. Updates the list and
mechanism for ongoing updates to the current DNR committees that
routinely address treaty reserved resources covered by the Voigt
decision while continuing to deepen and further the ongoing
GLIFWC‑DNR relationships established to date, and providing for a
framework for continued dialogue.

Tribal State Park Hunting Document Established.
Establishes an administrative mechanism that sets forth the
regulations and state parks available to tribal harvest
entitled.

CITES Export Program. Establishes a stipulation
change pertaining to GLIFWC’s Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) Export Program. CITES tags issued under
this program would be provided to GLIFWC, which would be
responsible for distributing them to the tribes, and which would
report to the U.S. Management Authority as required by the program
delegation.

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