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12/1/2012 7:30:00 AM
Night deer hunt on hold
Judge Crabb rules state can enforce laws until Dec. 12

Craig Turk
Outdoors Reporter

Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District Federal Court ruled late Wednesday afternoon that the state may enforce the shining laws until Dec. 12 at which time a preliminary injunction hearing on the issue will be held.

"The state is pleased that shining will be prohibited until such time as we can adequately address these issues within the appropriate court setting. We will continue to try to work with the Tribes to resolve this issue," Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said following Crabb's ruling.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), the commission that oversees Chippewa Tribes' hunting and fishing rights, announced Nov. 21 that a commission order authorizing night deer hunting by tribal members in the ceded territory was in place.

Night hunting for deer was to start Monday, Nov. 26.

Sue Erickson, GLIFWC public information director, said there had been applicants for night hunting permits from all of the Great Lakes Chippewa bands, except the Bad River Band.

That means members of the St. Croix, Mole Lake, Red Cliff, Lac Courtes Oreilles and Lac du Flambeau bands had applied successfully. As of Tuesday, a total of 74 Ojibwe hunters had applied and become eligible to participate in night deer hunting.

"They have to do a kind of a proficiency rules course, and that includes the marksmanship testing - which you have to pass," Erickson said. "And then they're also educated on the rules and regulations surrounding the hunt. And then they are required, also, if they're going out, to submit a shooting plan that indicates a safe firing zone."

As of Tuesday, one tribal hunter, from the Mole Lake Band, had received a night hunting permit, but GLIFWC canceled the permit.

Hunts would take place from elevated stands, over bait, with the light to be used at the point of kill.

Stepp, in a Nov. 20 letter to GLIFWC administrator Jim Zorn, urged GLIFWC not to go forward with the order that would allow night hunting for deer.

Prior to the recent moves, the state had been in discussions with GLIFWC regarding the possibility of tribal deer hunting at night. The GLIFWC commission order, coming the day before Thanksgiving left the state with little time to react, Stepp said.

The DNR filed a motion in federal court Nov. 21, hoping to block the night hunting.

The tribes filed a cross-motion Nov. 27.

Erickson said the cross-motion was "requesting the earlier judgment that [didn't allow] night hunting essentially be overturned, because circumstances have changed."

The DNR contends that the new night hunt is the same as one the tribes tried to have put in place in 1989, when they argued that because the state allows night hunting for animals such as coyotes, tribes should be allowed to hunt deer at night. That hunt was not allowed to proceed.

Erickson indicated that the state's wolf hunt is the change in circumstances that prompted the tribes to pursue night deer hunting.

"Licensed wolf hunters are allowed to illuminate at the point of kill," she said.

The tribes maintain that the rules allowing night hunting for deer are similar to those the state has in place for night wolf hunting. Erickson said it's not shining in which tribal hunters are looking to participate.

"I think it's fairly important to differentiate between shining and illumination at the point of kill," she said. "Shining is not allowed."

The tribes came out in opposition to the state's wolf hunting and trapping season, trying in September to halt wolf hunting and trapping in the northern part of the state by laying claim to all wolves in the ceded territory.

That effort was denied.

Under treaties signed in the 1837 and 1842, the Chippewa ceded 22,400 square miles across northern Wisconsin to the government while retaining off-reservation hunting and fishing privileges. In 1991, a federal court ruled that tribes have the right to at least 50 percent of the harvestable surplus for any animal hunted in the territory. The ceded territory covers roughly the northern one-third of Wisconsin.

Chippewa tribes conduct their own deer hunt, independent of state deer hunts, in the ceded territory. The 2012 tribal deer hunting season ends on Jan. 6, 2013.

The state's regular nine-day gun deer hunting season ended Sunday, Nov. 25, with a 10-day muzzleloader season opening Nov. 26.

State law allows night hunting for wolves beginning Nov. 26, but area Wolf Management Zones 2 and 4 were closed Nov. 16 as they neared quota, meaning no wolf hunting or trapping can legally take place in northeastern Wisconsin. The zones include all of Oneida and Vilas counties.

Craig Turk may be reached at

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: James Zwick

Common sense.

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