Chippewa bands ask DNR to halt wolf huntChippewa Indian bands in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are asking the state Department of Natural Resources to halt plans for a wolf hunt in northern Wisconsin this fall.
By: By Joe Knight, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Superior Telegram
Chippewa tribes in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan have asked the state Department of Natural Resources to prohibit the killing of wolves in the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin during a planned wolf hunt this fall.
Jim Zorn, executive director of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, said the tribes believe the Wisconsin hunt is biologically reckless and would be culturally harmful to Chippewa Indians, for whom wolves are culturally important. The commission oversees the treaty hunting, fishing and gathering activities of 11 Chippewa bands, including six in Wisconsin.
"Some of the tribal reps have expressed it as, 'How should we sanction the killing of our brother?' " Zorn said. "There's a level of discomfort that makes it difficult to talk about in these terms of legalese and biology that we usually use."
The tribes also oppose the wolf hunt because they believe the state's population goal of 350 is too low and could result in the crash of the state's wolf population, said Zorn, who advocates for a regional approach to wolf management. Officials estimate there are 850 wolves in Wisconsin.
In an Aug. 9 letter to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, the tribes wrote:
"The Voigt Intertribal Task Force of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, at its August 2, 2012, meeting, passed a motion unanimously opposing the killing of (wolves) and claiming all wolves in the Wisconsin ceded territory as a necessary prerequisite to a population that would fully effectuate the Tribes' rights ..."
State DNR spokeswoman Laurel Steffes said the agency is currently drafting a response for the tribes. She said it would be inappropriate to comment until the tribes have received the DNR response.
The Legislature approved the wolf hunt in March, two months after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from the federal endangered species list. The hunt is scheduled to begin Oct. 15 and go through February.
The DNR says more than 10,000 people have applied for a wolf hunt permit so far. Of those, 9,820 are from Wisconsin.
The Legislature's vote came amid complaints from farmers that wolves were killing their livestock.
A group of humane societies has filed a lawsuit in Madison seeking to block the hunt, arguing the DNR failed to prevent hunting dogs from dying in confrontations with wolves. An injunction hearing has been set for Aug. 29.
Federal court rulings state that Chippewa tribes have the right to half the harvest of fish and game in the territories the U.S. government ceded to them in the 1800s.
Knight can be reached at 715-830-5835, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2012 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)
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