Shooting of antlerless moose by Lac du Flambeau member all over Facebook
Lac du Flambeau, Wis. — A Lac du Flambeau tribal member kicked off a heated social media discussion about whether the shooting of a female moose in Vilas County was an ethically appropriate move, even if that decision was legal since it took place on a reservation with no tribal code in place to make it illegal.
Now, the latter may change over time. According to a Facebook post from the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribe, tribal council members will begin considering such a move.
In the meantime, an investigation into the shooting will likely fizzle, since the shooting took place by a tribal member on the Lac du Flambeau reservation. Wisconsin DNR game wardens have no jurisdiction on the reservation, even though a local game warden was called out initially. Once the DNR game warden confirmed that the man who shot the moose was a tribal member, the case was turned over to the LdF warden team.
According to the LdF Facebook post, the moose was shot at about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, July 6. According to two different reports separate from the tribal posting, a passer-by saw what might have been a campfire some distance off of Hwy. 47 about one-half mile from the reservation border, but the report did not specify north or south. The Lac du Flambeau Police Department and a Vilas County deputy were reportedly the first officers to respond, followed by a DNR game warden.
“The tribal conservation department and the Wisconsin DNR were contacted. The Wisconsin DNR noted that the tribe has jurisdiction in this issue,” said the tribe in its online post.
“Due to the rarity of moose in this area, the tribe does not condone hunting of moose. The Lac du Flambeau Natural Resource Department, Lac du Flambeau Natural Conservation Department and tribal attorney’s office are working on an emergency rule to present to the tribal council that prohibits the hunting of moose within the Lac du Flambeau boundaries,” the tribal statement said.
It’s not fully clear whether the moose was an adult cow, juvenile cow, or a calf from this spring. Based on the photo of a man holding a severed moose head, the animal is clearly an antlerless moose.
Several moose have been seen in the Lac du Flambeau, Springstead, Manitowish Waters and Mercer areas since 2012. Last year, Springstead residents reported seeing two bulls (one large bull and one smaller bull), a cow and a calf in their area of southern Iron County. This summer, a number of residents and visitors have posted photos and video of antlerless moose along Hwy. 47 north of Lac du Flambeau near the Powell Marsh. A video was also recorded in June of a cow moose swimming across Wild Rice Lake in Vilas County north of Lac du Flambeau.
No one knows for sure how many moose might be living in the area, according to DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang.
Other photos of at least one adult cow moose from the area were posted on Facebook after the July 6 shooting.
While there were a wide range of online comments regarding the ethicacy of shooting an animal from such a small herd, many people who posted comments wondered how this incident could not be prosecuted, even that task fell to tribal court. At least two persons had gone to the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) web site from which they copied page 15 of GLIFWC hunting rules. The following comes from page 15 of the GLIFWC hunting rules.
17. Protected Species. It is illegal to hunt any of the following species:
A. Minnesota 1837 Ceded Territory: wolverine, flying squirrel, wolf, cougar, elk, homing pigeon or any wild bird (except where bird hunting is specifically allowed and regulated).
B. Wisconsin 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territories: marten, wolverine, badger, flying squirrel, wolf, lynx, cougar, moose, homing pigeon or any wild bird (except where bird hunting is specifically allowed and regulated).
C. Michigan 1842 Ceded Territory: wolverine, badger, flying squirrel, wolf, lynx, cougar, elk, moose, homing pigeon or any wild bird, except those species whose harvest is specifically regulated pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance.
Here’s the distinction: GLIFWC hunting regulations apply to members of the state’s six Chippewa tribes who are hunting public lands (national forests, state forests, county forests, etc.) in an off-reservation setting. Those same GLIFWC regulations do not apply to tribal members hunting on reservation lands. Since Lac du Flambeau has no tribal code that specifically sets a moose season, or bans moose hunting at any time, there likely will be little the tribe can do to prosecute the individual in this case.