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Despite 'deep misgivings,' federal judge declines to stop Wisconsin wolf hunt

Gray wolves

A federal court hearing Friday focused on whether gray wolves were properly classified under the Endangered Species Act prior to losing their protected status last year.

MILWAUKEE — A federal judge has declined to issue a ruling on a preliminary injunction requested by Ojibwe tribes to stop the 2021 Wisconsin wolf hunt.

But Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson said Friday he had “deep misgivings” about state rules that proved inadequate in February to keep the wolf kill to the intended target.

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The case is part of a lawsuit filed Sept. 21 by six Wisconsin Ojibwe tribes against the Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board.

The tribes argue that the hunt violates their treaty rights and endangers an animal they consider sacred.

The Journal Sentinel reports the Wisconsin wolf hunting and trapping season in February resulted in a kill of 218 wolves, 99 wolves above the state-licensed quota. The shares had been split 119 for the state and 81 for the tribes.

The take by state-licensed hunters and trappers effectively consumed the tribes’ quota.

The tribes are represented by the California-based environmental group Earthjustice.

The case took an unusual turn due to a preliminary injunction on the wolf season handed out Oct. 22 in a similar case by a Dane County judge.

With the season already effectively blocked, Peterson said he wasn’t able to issue relief.

But he heard arguments and testimony over 7 hours Friday.

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