(The Center Square) – Hunters in Wisconsin are pleading with the state’s Department of Natural Resources to save this year’s wolf hunt.
A Dane County judge on Friday issued an order that essentially ends this year’s hunt. The judge said Wisconsin’s wolf quota should be zero, not the 130 that DNR regulators approved this fall.
"I'm not overruling the wolf hunt law, I'm not saying it's enjoined from ever being enforced," Judge Jacob Frost wrote in his ruling. "In fact I'm saying that it has to be enforced as it was written and intended."
Frost sided with environmentalists and advocates who’ve been fighting Wisconsin’s wolf hunting law for years. Frost’s ruling, however, singles out the DNR for failing to adopt formal wolf hunting rules since lawmakers approved a wolf hunt back in 2012.
The judge said nine years under an “emergency order” is long enough.
Hunter Nation, a hunting group that sued to force a wolf hunt back in February, now wants the DNR to appeal the judge’s ruling.
“With only three weeks until the wolf hunt is to open, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must acknowledge state law and immediately appeal this case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to get this matter cleared up,” Hunter Nation President and CEO Luke Hilgemann said.
Hilgemann says the DNR needs to end the confusion that the judge has created.
“The Evers administration and Attorney General Kaul must stop following the marching orders of the radical anti-hunting groups that are trampling the rights of Wisconsin hunters, farmers, pet owners, and families,” Hilgemann added. “State law clearly calls for a wolf hunt, and Hunter Nation will not sit by while the opponents of common sense predator management try to violate the constitutional rights of hunters in this state by denying that.”
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation also called on the DNR to appeal the ruling.
“The DNR’s dereliction of duty continues into another wolf harvest season and time will tell what the cost will be for Wisconsin farmers,” President Kevin Krentz said Friday. “Wisconsin Farm Bureau members expect the DNR to work within the constraints of state law but DNR inaction, similar to last year, threatens to derail another wolf harvest season.”
But there is some division inside Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources. The DNR Board, which is in the middle of a political tug-of-war, set this year’s wolf quota at 300 wolves. Staffers at the department subsequently overruled them and set the quota at 130. It’s not clear if the split within the department will impact the move to appeal.