Fighting over wolf and deer shining

Dean BortzAll parties return to Judge Barbara Crabb's court this morning to continue an injunction hearing on the tribes' assertion that they can issue an order – without the state's blessing – that would allow tribal members to hunt deer at night while shining from a stationary position. The hearing was scheduled for one day, but the state and the tribes still had witnesses left at 5 p.m. yesterday.

The tribal off-reservation deer season in the ceded territory runs through Jan. 6, 2013. The tribes want to allow tribal members to shine deer yet this season. Testimony yesterday indicates that the tribes have 74 members who completed a safety training program drafted primarily by Mole Lake tribal chairman-elect Chris McGeshick, who also worked as a DNR game warden for several years. Tribal attorneys argued that the state shouldn't object to 74 tribal members hunting deer at night because approximately 700 state hunters could be hunting wolves at night right now. Tribal lawyers also pointed out that since most of the wolf zones are closed to harvest, those 700 hunters would be funneled into one or two zones.

State witnesses said that of the 108 wolves harvested through yesterday, none had been shot at night, an indication that night hunting of wolves is of low interest to hunters, even though the technique is allowed by the season framework. They also noted that more than half of the wolves that have been killed so far have been caught by trappers, not hunters. The state also tried to show that wolf hunting at night is no different than the night hunting of coyotes and foxes, practices that have been legal for some time. They said that shining deer is a far different practice than calling wild canines at night.

There will be some pressure on Judge Crabb to rule quickly, perhaps as early as today, so that tribal members may begin shining deer if Crabb lifts the injunction. However, there seems to be a good possibility that she will ask for more briefings from both sides before making her ruling. At the start of the hearing yesterday, Crabb noted that tribes had not responded to filings by the state – she asked if the tribes would like to reply and the team of seven lawyers replied in the affirmative. That leaves the door open for Crabb to set a briefing schedule before making a ruling on this injunction.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Whitetail Deer, Wisconsin – Dean Bortz

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