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Lac du Flambeau and Sokaogon Chippewa among six tribes to file lawsuit over November wolf hunt

Wisconsin DNR

Six tribes filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state of Wisconsin for its planned wolf hunt this fall.

The lawsuit claims the hunt violates the tribe’s treaty rights.

Earthjustice is representing the tribes.

“The Ojibwe understand that a healthy wolf population is critical to a healthy ecosystem. The bands have asserted their treaty-protected rights to their share of the wolves to ensure that a healthy wolf population is protected in Wisconsin.” said Gussie Lord, Earthjustice Managing Attorney of Tribal Partnerships in a statement. “The state trampled the tribes’ rights, and we are in court today to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The tribal nations in the lawsuit are Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

The DNR’s policy board recently approved a 300-wolf quota for the November hunt. The hunt is required by state law. The quota is more than double the recommendation of the DNR. Wisconsin’s Ojibwe tribes are allowed to claim up to half the quota. Historically, the tribes have claimed that amount, but allowed their allotment to go unharvested.

Despite doing so during February’s hunt, hunters ended up killing more than 200 wolves. More than 100 over the state-quota after the tribe took its share.

Before the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, WXPR spoke with Lac du Flambeau Tribal President John Johnson Sr. about why they oppose the wolf hunt.

Johnson said the U.S. guaranteed Ojibwe tribes’ rights in exchange for taking their land, but those rights aren’t being honored in this instance.

“We want some answers,” he says. “Why they’re not listening to the tribes. We have federal treaty rights and they’re not adhering to them.”

This new lawsuit accompanies an existing challenge by Earthjustice to the Trump administration’s decision to remove wolves from the Endangered Species Act.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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