Suit filed over DNR's wolf hunt delay

Posted at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Brillion News

JEFFERSON - The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), on behalf of Luke Hilgemann and Hunter Nation, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, February 2, in Jefferson County Circuit Court against Wisconsin DNR Secretary Preston Cole, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, for ignoring a state law requirement to schedule a wolf hunt season this winter.

The gray wolf was dropped from the federal Endangered Species Act list of protected species on January 4, triggering a 2011 state law that requires Wisconsin’s DNR to schedule a gray wolf hunting season between November and February.



“The Wisconsin DNR does not have the discretion to determine whether to follow state law when it comes to scheduling a gray wolf hunt," WILL Deputy Legal Counsel Anthony LoCoco said.


"WILL intends to hold Wisconsin’s administrative agencies accountable until this pattern of ignoring state law ends.”

Hunter Nation President Luke Hilgemann said: "Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold a hunting and trapping season if the gray wolf is not under federal protections. Despite this clear mandate, Governor [Tony] Evers, Secretary Cole and the Department of Natural Resources are playing politics and intentionally delaying the wolf harvest to give radical anti-hunting groups time to block the delisting and stop a hunt altogether.”

The United State Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act in March 2019. On November 3, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a final rule to delist the gray wolf effective January 4, 2021.

LoCoso said that Wisconsin state law is clear and if the gray wolf is not protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Wisconsin DNR “shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves.” The law further states that DNR must “establish a single annual open season for both hunting and trapping wolves that begins on the first Saturday in November of each year and ends on the last day of February of the following year.”

WILL maintains that the Wisconsin DNR, despite years of advance warning and months to prepare for a January 2021 delisting of the gray wolf, has refused to permit the hunting and trapping of wolves in January and February of 2021.

WILL represents Hunter Nation President and CEO, Luke Hilgemann, and Hunter Nation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting America's hunting heritage and the right to hunt.

The lawsuit alleges DNR’s decision to forgo a gray wolf hunt until November 2021 violates state law and the Wisconsin state constitution’s guarantee of a right to hunt.

WILL said that, once the gray wolf was delisted on January 4, Wisconsin DNR had an obligation to comply with state law that permits the trapping and hunting of gray wolves for a season between November and February.

The lawsuit in its entirety may be viewed and downloaded by visiting http://www.will-law.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/hunter-nation-v.-dnr-complaint-2-2-21-redacted-1.pdf