MADISON, WI (WSAU) - A controversial deer hunting order issued Wednesday will end up in court, and possibly create confusion for hunters during the hunting season.
The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission issued an Order to allow members of the six Wisconsin Chippewa Tribes comprising the Commission to hunt deer at night – that is, shine deer-- on off-reservation lands in the “Ceded Territory,” which is roughly the northern third of the state. That Order came over the objections of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Justice.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen believes the GLIFWC order is illegal. Van Hollen says he has already filed a motion with the United States District Court to make it clear that night-hunting of deer by these tribal members is not allowed and to ask the Court to make it clear that the Commission Order does not prevent the State from enforcing the laws against night-hunting.
The ruled 18 years ago in Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, et al., v. State of Wisconsin, et al., case no. 74-C-313-C that tribal night-hunting and “shining” of deer is not permitted. Van Hollen is hoping the Court will rule on his motion before Monday, November 26, 2012, which is the first day that the Commission Order allows night-hunting of deer.
The Attorney General says the State of Wisconsin has made it illegal to hunt deer by shining at night because the practice is dangerous and poses an unnecessary danger to the people of this State. Under the prior court orders, the tribes may not engage in this unsafe practice without following certain procedural steps ordered by the Court, which they have not done. Van Hollen says he respects and supports the federal treaty rights enjoyed by the tribes, but those rights do not allow them to violate court orders or to engage in unsafe conduct that puts themselves and others at risk.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp issued the following statement on the GLIFWC issued order allowing night hunting of deer in Ceded Territory:
“We have been informed the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission plans to allow Chippewa Tribal night hunting for deer in the Ceded Territory (roughly the northern third of the state) starting Nov. 26. DNR does not approve of this action and the state will file suit today (Wednesday) seeking a federal court order requiring the Tribes to comply with the court’s prohibition on deer shining and confirming the State’s right to enforce the state shining law against Tribal hunters in the Ceded Territory.“We have concerns about the short amount of time to notify the public, the circumvention of court oversight and past rulings on night hunting for deer, and public safety.“We have also requested that the Tribes refrain from shining deer until this matter can be settled in court. Should Tribal members refuse, it is important for the public to know that night hunting of deer could take place on public lands in the Ceded Territory starting Nov. 26, and proper precautions should be taken if outdoor recreating.”The following editorial has been offered by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to the media on the issue of night hunting and the GLIFWC Order:
Op-Ed: State opposed to Tribal shining
by Cathy Stepp, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Natural ResourcesYou may have heard about potential shining – or night hunting of deer – by Tribal members in the Ceded Territory (roughly the northern third of Wisconsin). I want to give you an overview from the State’s perspective.DNR does not approve of this action and does not believe it is within the authority of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Working in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the State filed suit Wednesday seeking a federal court order requiring the Tribes to comply with the court’s prohibition on deer shining and confirming the State’s right to enforce the State shining law against Tribal hunters in the Ceded Territory, roughly the northern third of the state.Why?We have concerns about the short amount of time to notify the public, the circumvention of court oversight and past rulings on night hunting for deer, and public safety.We understand that the Tribes contend they should be allowed to hunt deer at night because a recently adopted state law permits the night hunting of wolves. We believe that this is essentially the same argument the Tribes unsuccessfully asserted in federal court in the 1989 “deer trial” when they argued that State’s provision for night hunting coyotes should allow them to hunt deer at night. After a week-long trial, the court concluded that deer shining was much more dangerous to public safety than the nighttime hunting of predators like coyotes, and so Judge Barbara Crabb rejected the tribes’ challenge to the State’s deer shining law. We believe that the State’s legalization of night hunting of wolves, another predator species, changes nothing in this respect.Importantly, even if it were legal for the Tribes to hunt deer at night – which we believe it is not – we believe GLIFWC acted with too little notice and too little consultation with the State. We have not been able to discuss many safety aspects. And we need time to be sure that people using public lands with no expectation of night deer hunting are aware of any such changes. The GLIFWC order would have night hunting of deer start Nov. 26.DNR has diligently and in good faith implemented numerous enhanced Tribal resource harvesting opportunities, including updating and increasing harvest limits for Tribal harvest of a host of species; honoring self-regulation for gathering forest products on State lands; agreeing to alternative monitoring of walleye harvest to save creel clerk expenses; youth hunt mentoring; improving mapping of the Ceded Territory in Wisconsin; and responsive and flexible state park hunting opportunities mechanism – all of which have operated almost exclusively for the Tribes’ benefit. I’m proud of that record, and I believe our actions of the past give us strong credibility is addressing this issue.I contacted GLFWC Executive Administrator Jim Zorn and the Tribal Chairs and respectfully asked the Tribes to refrain from implementing night deer hunting. And I asked that Tribal members not go out shining until the federal court rules on our motion.I assured Administrator Zorn of our continuing commitment to the court-approved process for negotiating changes to our past agreements on regulatory matters. I let him know we are hopeful this does not put the Tribes and state with odds with each other.But I also informed him that it is DNR’s job to honor court decisions and directives, and to enforce the laws that are in place at this time, and we will do so. In the meantime, I ask that all of us – Tribal members, governmental agencies, and the public – work together to manage court-affirmed hunting and gathering rights in a safe and legal manner.
The following documents have been made available by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp:
- Nov. 9, 2012 letter from GLIFWC to Secretary Stepp
- Nov. 15, 2012 letter from DNR Secretary Stepp to GLIFWC
- GREAT LAKES INDIAN FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION ORDER No. 2012-05Wisconsin 1837 and 1842 Ceded Territory Tribal Night Hunting Regulations
- Nov. 20, 2012 letter from DNR Secretary Stepp to GLIFC re: Proposed Tribal Night Hunting regulations Order No. 2012-05
- Nov. 21, 2012 Motion to enforce judgement prohibition on shining deer
- Sample of Nov. 21, 2012 letter sent to all Tribal Chairman (Sokaogon Tribe) by Secretary Stepp
The following documents have been made available by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen:
Motion to Enforce Brief in Support Certificate of Service DPFOF DPFOF Exhibit 1 DPFOF Exhibit 2 DPFOF Exhibit 3 Stepp Affidavit Stepp Exhibit A Stepp Exhibit B Stepp Exhibit C Stepp Exhibit D Lawhern Affidavit Lawhern Exhibit A