Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Wildlife advocates sue to stop wolf hunt; complaint alleges 'squatting' DNR board chair tainted decision
0 Comments
topical alert
NATURAL RESOURCES | WOLF MANAGEMENT

Wildlife advocates sue to stop wolf hunt; complaint alleges 'squatting' DNR board chair tainted decision

  • 0
Wolf hunt

Wildlife advocacy groups are suing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over a proposed fall wolf hunt.

Wildlife advocacy groups are suing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over a proposed fall wolf hunt they say was illegally set and will deliver a “devastating blow” to the state’s wolf population.

Filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court, the lawsuit seeks to block plans for a fall wolf hunt and overturn the state law that requires it.

The court action comes weeks after the DNR’s policy board approved a 300-wolf limit for the November hunt, more than double what the agency had recommended.

In their complaint, the groups say the board “spurned the recommendations of DNR’s experts, disregarded science, and ignored the facts to arrive at a politically contrived conclusion that flouts the Board’s constitutional and statutory responsibility to protect and conserve the state’s wildlife.”

The plaintiffs, including Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy and the Coyote Project, are asking the court to block the DNR from issuing any permits for the fall hunt and to invalidate the 2011 law requiring the hunt, which they say violates the separation of powers and the public trust doctrine enshrined in the state Constitution.

Jessica Blome, an attorney with Greenfire Law, said the law strips the agency responsible for administering and protecting wildlife “from their discretion to set a hunt or not set a hunt and to set a quota that is science-based.”

Wildlife officials had proposed a limit of 130, citing uncertainty about the impact of a rushed February season in which hunters killed 218 wolves, nearly twice the state’s allotment.

The DNR estimates another 33 wolves were killed last year by vehicles, depredation control or poaching, although researchers at UW-Madison say people killed up to a third of the state’s population last year, mostly through overharvest and poaching.

DNR scientists say the unusual timing of the winter hunt, which overlapped with breeding season, makes it difficult to understand the long-term effects on the population, which was estimated to be about 1,034 wolves as of spring 2020.

The complaint describes the Aug. 11 meeting as “a parody of reasoned deliberation” led by chair Fred Prehn, the Wausau dentist appointed by Gov. Scott Walker who has refused to relinquish his seat to Gov. Tony Evers’ appointee after his term expired May 1.

Frederick Prehn

Prehn

“The 300-wolf quota was decided by an illegal vote taken by an improper body, both influenced and ultimately decided by a person who was no longer a member of that body, based on political considerations that disregarded facts, science, and the expertise of agency biologists, and under the umbrella of an unconstitutional law,” the complaint states.

“Wolves, science and democracy all need protection in Wisconsin,” said Michelle Lute, national carnivore conservation manager with Project Coyote.

A DNR spokesperson declined to comment on the litigation. Prehn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is the second time this year the DNR has faced legal action over wolf hunting.

Last winter, a Jefferson County judge ordered the DNR to hold a hunt in the final days of February, later than any previous state-sanctioned seasons.

Hunter Nation Inc., a Kansas-based organization run by the former head of Americans For Prosperity, sued the DNR after the agency said there was not time to develop a science-based quota in consultation with tribal governments.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the endangered species list on Jan. 4, returning management authority to the lower 48 states and tribes. State law requires the DNR to allow wolf trapping and hunting from November through February if wolves are not listed as endangered.

Wolf Hunt Wisconsin

Ann Emerson of Madison, far right, holds a sign during a wolf hunt protest outside the state Capitol in October 2013. A coalition of animal rights groups sued Tuesday to stop Wisconsin's fall wolf hunt.

Melissa Smith, executive director of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, said the Natural Resources Board has ignored non-consumptive users of the state’s resources.

“The agencies work for all of us, not just a minority of people who want to run dogs on wildlife. We deserve a voice,” Smith said. “This is the best way to have a voice even though we participated in every public forum we could.”

“Wolves, science and democracy all need protection in Wisconsin."

Michelle Lute, national carnivore conservation manager with Project Coyote

NO TITLE
0 Comments

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News

Crime

Politics