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Judge Crabb says "no" to night hunting


MADISON, WI (WSAU) -  There won’t be any nighttime deer hunting, at least for now. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled yesterday that Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission overstepped their authority when they issued the authorization for hunting deer at night with lights without state approval.

Judge Crabb in her decision said, “To grant plaintiffs’ request, I would have to conclude that plaintiffs are permitted to amend a judgment that is more than 20 years old without a stipulation from defendants or approval from this court. Not only is that view untenable, but the consequences of adopting it could be perilous. One of the primary reasons for the creation of courts is to prevent the dangers that often accompany self-help remedies such as plaintiffs’ November 2012 order. Settling disputes by negotiation without court intervention is ideal for all the parties involved, but when negotiation fails, the parties must come to court (or submit to arbitration) to resolve the matter. The proper response cannot be for each side to decide on its own what the law permits, particularly with an issue like this one that involves public safety concerns. In these circumstances, it is essential that the parties exercise restraint and use the proper channels to resolve their dispute.”

Quinn Williams is the Department of Natural Resources section chief in the Bureau of Legal Services. He is pleased with Crabb’s ruling. “She said that to suggest that a court order may be disregarded by one party because of its interpretation of a private agreement undermines both the judicial process and the rule of law itself.” adding,“We’ve maintained and the Secretary has maintained all along that, you know, we’ve got to follow the process that’s been established by the court and we felt very strongly that the tribes had not done that and we’re happy that Judge Crabb has agreed with us on that.” Tribal attorneys had no comment after the judge’s ruling.

Judge Crabb encourages both parties to negotiate several resource management issues. There is a motion for equitable relief filed by the tribes, and Crabb says she may consider whether the parties have exhausted all good faith efforts before she would step in to resolve any dispute.

Neighboring Minnesota allows night deer hunting by the Chippewa tribes, but under very specific guidelines. They must use a tree stand at a prescribed height over bait to ensure all shooting is at a downward angle.

You can listen to WSAU’s interview with DNR’s Quinn Williams by clicking on the application above.